The Japanese use the word Ikigai to describe one’s purpose for living.
It intersects one’s passion, skills, a world need, and income stream – at the center, where all 4 intersect is one’s Ikigai, or purpose. It could also be described as one’s life calling.
This concept also illustrates why “retirement” is not a word in Japan, for one doesn’t retire from one’s Ikigai, because one is living in one’s purpose.
I love this idea, for how often have I felt like I don’t know my “calling”. I sometimes wonder why there isn’t one job, one hobby, and/or one destination that fuels, fulfills and drives my life. Rather, my interests vary.
It seems others though have found a clear singular calling – they are on fire for it, passionate about it, and completely absorbed in what they do.
Am I missing mine?
Jimmy Buffett sings about such a thing in his Pirate Looks at 40 song when he says, “my occupational hazard being my occupation’s just not around”. Though clearly Buffett himself seems to know clearly what his personal occupation and passion is.
Interestingly, I’m not alone in this “calling” question, for there are countless books, philosophies, and religions available to help people find and know their life purpose and calling.
I’m reminded to the truth Christianity speaks to about this topic, and obviously the answer is Jesus. But I’m realizing there is much more to that “correct” Sunday school answer than meets the eye.
As an example, how many may know Jesus and are Christian, but clearly do not live with a burning sense of calling and passion? In fact, many can seem bitter, bored, judgmental, and downright miserable.
Obviously, we all want this “sweet spot” in life. We imagine this overwhelming and confident life of peace, passion, and purpose; and so, we do all we can to grind it out, make it happen and push down and deny any emotion that may interfere with our fantasy.
But then again, what about those who genuinely know their calling? Is this a gift reserved only for a select few?
This is where the myth of calling taunts and teases us. For there is no perfect life here on earth – far from it.
Even for those that love what they do. The honest ones admit to the burdens their passions often bare – the hardships, the sacrifices, the high costs. It’s all there too. For there are always weeds growing in any garden that must be dealt with.
But this isn’t bad news. It’s actually liberating truth, and why the honesty of the Bible and of authentic people is so refreshing. For “In this world, you will have trouble…” (John 16:33).
Also, one of the greatest and most helpful catechisms, or Christian principles I know claims the chief end of man is to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever”.
Why? Because God holds the key to our true identity. He created us, knows us, and when we seek and get to know Him better by having a healthy relationship with Him, He heals us, and as He does, He reveals us. The real us. Freeing us from lies, and deceptions, and instead, refreshing us with unconditional love, and truth.
His love is life, and this empowers us to enjoy Him which brings Him glory. It warms His heart to love us, and to have us receive His love, and enjoy His love. Reciprocating His love is how we learn to better love ourselves and others. This overflowing journey of love is indeed purposeful living.
This journey is hard though – which only makes it sweeter – it requires fighting, for we always have to fight for true love – against all the lies, the harm, the distortion, and the lusts.
Yet, what greater calling and life purpose is there? For learning, and growing to live this way is perpetual, passionate, and empowering.
Jesus is the giver of life, and yes, some clearly know what they want their “occupation” to be, but that’s not all there is.
Ones purpose is not as neat as simply having one hobby, and/or one job. For some, there may be many interests, and various pursuits, but regardless, there is no need for comparisons, for those following Christ, knowing Christ, trusting Christ, and enjoying Christ, we are also glorifying Christ in all we choose to do whether at work, or play when at the center of our heart is love for Him – and not our “tasks”, whatever they may be.