Find Your Calling: Ikigai
Updated: Jan 8, 2019
I recently mentioned to some friends that just before God called us into long-term missions in Japan I spent a few weeks “reverse engineering” my life. One of them followed up with me afterwards and wanted to know more, so in these next three posts I’m writing down a little of my story and the 3 processes that God used to change and set the direction of my life. I hope these will be helpful for you. Part 1 describes the Five Fundamentals process, part 2 explores the concept of Ikigai, and part 3 will walk through the process of Reverse Engineering life. Christina has also created a helpful printable page if you want to grab a pen and get to it. A notebook also works.
Ikigai is a Japanese concept related to daily life. Roughly it means “life purpose,” but maybe in a less grand, more everyday sense. Think: reason to get out of bed everyday. Here is a fairly common Venn diagram used to explain it.I found Ikigai to be a helpful concept for balancing a good dose of practicality with what the world constantly screams nowadays: do what you love! I started out by listing things in each of the 4 categories, then thinking through the different paths they opened up or closed off.
I think the diagram is pretty self-explanatory, so grab a pen and start your own lists, then begin thinking through how they connect! I’ll copy my lists below.
Note: I think it’s helpful to think through the Ikigai diagram at different levels. For instance, “what the world needs” is a huge category. But “what Japan needs” or “what my neighborhood needs” or “what my church needs” could be helpful ways to narrow things down. For instance, I would say I had all of these things somewhat nailed down but for the longest time I couldn’t square how I was going to get paid following my mission, passion, and skill set, while living in America. When God suddenly made it clear that Japan was the place he was calling us to, and that one thing the Japanese church specifically needed was its own worship music, everything else made sense together. So when you find things aren’t settling in and unifying, start fiddling with the variables and see what happens.
What You Love: Jesus, Music, Family, Beauty, the Gospel, Producing/Recording, Enabling people
What You Are Good At: Music, Performance, Leading, Getting things done, Producing/Recording, Minor film/photography/design skills
What You Can Be Paid For: Performing Music, Speaking/Teaching?, Production, Recording, Creating.
What the World (Japan) Needs: Jesus, Beauty, the Gospel, Worship Music
Passion: I am passionate about creating and helping others create beautiful music, and art generally, both secular and sacred. I believe that all beauty is God’s beauty, so that every beautiful thing gives a tiny keyhole view of his glory. I’m also passionate about enabling and discipling artists in the Christian faith.
Profession: I am a flutist and audio engineer.
Vocation: Creating and enabling beauty and Kingdom flourishing
Mission: To apply the Gospel of Jesus to life and culture through beauty.
My Ikigai: Bringing the Gospel of Jesus to bear in the lives of artists, and art to bear in the lives of Christians, through performing and producing music/art that is beautiful and through showing how beauty itself is a reflection of the character of God. Globally, nationally in Japan, and locally in our Tokyo community.
Be sure to check out also the Five Fundamentals and Reverse Engineering, as it is these concepts working together that I've found to be truly helpful.