Have you discovered your ‘Christian ikigai’? ‘Your what?’, I hear you ask.
When I discovered the Japanese concept of ikigai, it blew me away. Ikigai is a way of discovering the delicate balance between pursuing your own passion, serving others and earning a living.
What I’ve discovered about the ikigai concept is that it also works wonderfully from a Christian viewpoint, and to my knowledge has never been explored in a Christian context before.
What you see here are four rules I’ve put together to discovering your Christian ikigai.
There is nothing spiritual or ‘eastern’ about ikigai. It just means one simple thing; your ‘reason for being’.
Just like the French raison d’être. (If you parlez vous francais).
Your Christian ikigai is your reason for being.
Now, who doesn’t ever want to have a reason for being?
How many times have you felt like you’ve gotten stuck in your daily routine or feel like you’ve ended up in a role that isn’t fulfilling?
It could be that you feel like you’re not living the true calling God has placed on your heart. That’s certainly been the case for me and I know for many, many others.
When we truly understand who we are, with our different gifts, talents, personal skills and who we could become then we get closer to living our reason for being.
Or, if you like, your ikigai.
And I’ve renamed this your ‘life calling’.
I really believe this is something God would like us to discover with Him.
Our higher life calling.
As Christians, we all share the same (I call higher) Christian calling. That’s to know, grow and serve the Lord. That’s truly the highest calling we could ever live.
But what does that practically look like, Monday to Sunday? I have a diagram here to show:
What is our life calling?
This is something we all ponder and pray over at some point in our lives. And at certain times, we dwell on this question more intently.
For some, following Christ fits nicely into their career choice. I’ve met many people who serve as doctors, nurses or carers who believe this is the natural outworking of their faith. And there are many other occupations where people feel the same.
This is truly brilliant. They have found their ‘reason for being’, in Christ. They feel a nice match with living out their gifts, skills and training and serving Him.
Many are still seeking their life calling.
But you might be among the many people who are still working out how to live their Monday to Sunday faith in a way that could bring more fulfilment for themselves, and as important, for others.
You may feel like you’re still finding your place in the world. But you’re just not sure how to ‘make it happen’. You have a steady job, but you’re working to live rather than living to work.
I’m going to present an overview of the ikigai approach that is completely consistent with what the Bible teaches and our call to follow Him. Here it is in outline.
But you can also download the whole 49-page guide here.
And for those who feel settled in their Monday to Sunday life, this is still helpful to check that you’re really living the calling you could be.
Life is too short for any complacency.
Discovering your Christian ikigai rule 1: do what you love.
What is it you really love to do? Is there some activity you come back to time and again? Has it always been a passion, or is it something new that has inspired you?
One very important part of finding your life calling and a reason for being is to do what you love.
This is more than just a hobby, though hobbies can become lifelong passions. This is something that if you had the chance to, you’d do more often.
It’s also something that you find yourself returning to time and again because it’s stimulated your interest and imagination in some way.
Passion is a terribly overused word these days but to find your life calling, having it is essential.
But this is only part of the picture. A passion won’t necessarily pay the bills.
There’s much more to consider.
Discovering your Christian ikigai rule 2: do what you’re good at.
Ok, so this may look like stating the obvious but it needs to be said because in the big scheme of things this is crucial. If you truly love something and are passionately committed to it, you will seek to get better at it.
Much of developing your passion is doing just this. It will be done by instinct (or training) at first, and it’ll be a joy to get better at. But at some point, if you want to live your passion and calling, you will need to reach a standard that everyone else will recognise as being professional.
You’ll never live (or earn) from your passion if this isn’t the case.
For example, if writing is my passion and I want to earn from it, I should be of a standard that other blogs, websites, magazines would consider publishing.
For our purposes, this is what it means to be good at your passion. You’ve reached a recognised standard to be at least semi-professional.
Discovering your Christian ikigai rule 3: do what the world needs.
Now we need to look beyond your personal interest to what the world actually needs.
In order to live your calling, you need to fulfil an existing need or demand. This is where researching the opportunities where you can practice your passion for others is essential.
But it will always be grounded in a need that others have for whatever you do.
You’ll be pleased to know that it’s never been easier to carve out your own niche and serve a willing audience of other like-minded individuals who need the passion that you practice.
Social media and the huge online communities globally, have opened the door for making untold connections between people that were never before possible.
Now is your time to find a ‘tribe’ who love what you do!
Discovering your Christian ikigai rule 4: do what you can be paid for.
Lastly, and no means least, you’ll need to be paid for what you do. This is harder than it first appears because you’re putting a monetary value on your passion.
But this is the last and most important step.
I’ve seen up close how effective this is with the businesses I’ve worked with in my own career. If you get this right, you can unlock a monetary value for what you do because you’re creating value by solving a problem, fulfilling an unmet need or saving money or time for someone.
If you can put this last step in place, you will be well on the way to beginning to earn from your passion.
Connecting the ‘life-calling’ dots!
I believe God has called us to live life to the fullest, for Him. It’s all a part of using the talents He’s provided for us.
‘I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly’. John 10:10.
My hope and prayer are that what I’ve written will encourage and even inspire you to live the fullest life in service to Him and to others. And that could mean for you to have the opportunity to earn from what you love to do.
‘Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters’. Colossians 3:23.
God bless you in whatever calling He has for you!
Jeremy – Not Only Sundays.
© Not Only Sundays, March 2018. Images CC0 Public Domain – Sourced on pixabay.com under a creative commons licence CC