How Busy People Can Serve India Well

Busyness can reduce patriotism to mere good intentions and nice words, with very little action. Here are some practical ways to serve India well.

Let’s admit it. Everyone in modern India is busy, busy, busy. Exciting, but demanding careers, young families, and long and tiring work commutes are all very real. With high inflation levels, EMIs to pay, and future goals to save for, the hustle probably will not end for many years.  

In modern India, even the most well-intentioned patriot is likely to struggle to serve our country consistently.

As we celebrate our 77th Independence Day, India needs and deserves more than mere platitudes.

Here are some practical ways in which we can roll up our sleeves and get down to serving India well.

1. India is More Than an Idea, We are a People

In recent times, leaders from both ends of the political spectrum have been talking about India as an idea. Of course, this idea of India looks very different on both ends of the spectrum. There is some goodness and value on some aspects of this idea of India at both ends. But India is not just an idea. We are a people.

It is far more helpful to see India as a people, rather than as just an idea. Ideas are discussed, debated, and propagated. But people are to be loved, served, and nurtured.

Ideas are at their powerful best in the realm of the intellect. There is a place for this. But busy people need to be discerning.

Busy people can mistakenly feel very heavily invested if they passionately believe in, and defend an idea of India, even if they do not actually do anything on the ground. Yes, India needs healthy discussions and debates. But many of India’s poor, under-privileged, and sometimes exploited and oppressed people need us to get on the ground and serve them.

Busy people need to find a healthy balance between head and hands if they are to serve India well. Perhaps, we are in a season where we all need to do more and debate less.

2. Connect Your Career to Your Country

We are living in times where selfish ambition has distorted the doctrine of vocation and diluted the creation calling of work.

In God’s original creation design (Gen. 1:28, Gen. 2:15), work was given to us as a way to steward and cultivate God’s creation. God made us in his image, and gave each of us unique gifts and talents. We are also called to use these gifts to serve one another and to live in a state of flourishing inter-dependence.

But the harsh realities of modern India have individualised work to an extreme. We have lost sight of how God designed each of our work for greater common good. 

We need to rediscover God’s original and beautiful calling of work. We need to learn to connect our careers to our country. We need to rekindle our imaginations to see how our work and our vocation contributes to the welfare of fellow-citizens of India.

A software engineer does not just write code. She designs solutions that makes businesses run smarter and people live better.

Connecting the dots to visualise how we can serve our countrymen through our careers will also make our daily work more purposeful and less selfish.

This way, while our work may remain unchanged, both our motivation for work, and our fulfilment from it undergo a radical transformation.

In one sense, busy people remain busy. But we now work joyfully with renewed motivations inspired by the self-sacrifice of Christ.

As the apostle Paul puts it beautifully, but in another context, “…I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” ( 1 Cor. 15:10).

3. Pay Your Taxes Joyfully and Prayerfully

This is a no-brainer. Busy people pay taxes. A lot of it. But we do so grudgingly. We see it as a burden. On the contrary, it is a joyful duty, a privilege, and also an invitation to pray.

In theory at least, the objective of taxation is social welfare and a more equitable society. This is something every follower of Christ must applaud and participate in whole-heartedly.

However, present reality may not reflect the original purpose of taxation. World over, governments are not the most efficient stewards in using the tax collected. 

But this is where we can make a difference. What if we paid our taxes prayerfully? What if every Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) intimation in our pay cheque prompts us to pray for efficient use of the tax for the welfare of those less privileged than us? What if we file our annual income tax returns with fasting and prayer?

Our prayers can indeed help bridge the gap between the noble goal of taxation and the actual less-than-ideal use of tax money.

4. Mobilise and Work Together with Like-Minded People in Your Local Church and Neighbourhood

When it comes to spiritual growth, we all know that we do better together than how we do on our own. A gospel community can help encourage us, coach us, and even rebuke us to help us turn our fuzzy good intentions into hard and tangible action.

Growing in committed and practical patriotism can also be a local church project. Find like-minded people in your local church, identify one or two social needs that you are all passionate about and swing into action. A gospel community helps keep us accountable and growing. Busy people need this.

We need not limit such collaboration to only the local church. This becomes even more beautiful when we also partner with other churches, and also with fellow-citizens in our neighbourhood.

One church in Mumbai has been faithful catalysing annual blood donation drives both among members and friends in the neighbourhood. More and more people are participating in it every year.

A quick word before we go to the last practical suggestion. All of the above four suggestions could also be winsome pathways in which we bear witness to the love of Christ to our countrymen, in word and in deed.

5. Help Preserve India’s Diverse Culture for Eternity

Living this life with an eternal perspective is the best antidote to busyness. 

Our citizenship is indeed in heaven (Phil.3:20). But heaven is a place where a diverse multitude of people will worship the lamb of God with their national and cultural identities intact (Rev. 7:9).

Biblically, our patriotism does have eternal implications.

India is home to an incredible diversity of cultures, peoples, tribes and tongues. More than 19,500 languages or dialects are spoken in India as mother tongues, according to estimates from the 2018 India census.

Such rich diversity should shape good and godly patriotism in two ways.

First, we must celebrate this cultural diversity and labour to preserve it. It will be to God’s glory if truth, goodness and beauty in every culture is preserved and represented in eternity. Our patriotism must include preserving the good aspects in every culture.

Second, while India has so many peoples, cultures, languages and cuisines, we are one great nation. In some ways, the imperfect unity in diversity we see here and now could be a feeble pointer to how all nations will one day love, serve and worship one lord and king—Christ Jesus, with all the richness of each unique culture.