The Number One Reason Why I Almost Failed at Pursuing my Calling in Life

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I’m about to embark on one of the defining milestones in life. After four years of working in Corporate America, I’m back as a student to pursue my Masters of Science in Organization Development (MSOD) degree at Pepperdine University.

In less than a week, I’m about to connect with 33 professionals who aspire to make a difference in this world – a meaningful impact – through the field of organization development.

With the exciting announcement in the stage of my life, I was overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from family and friends.

However, most of them were clueless when it came to how this decision was made. Most people would be surprised to hear a litany of barriers I had to overcome which seemed rather insurmountable. But, in the end, I mustered courage and a leap faith to respond to God’s call my life.

Yes, the number one reason why I almost failed at pursuing my calling in life was fear– fear that was so real and palpable, almost convincing me that I’m making a mistake by pursuing a narrow field like OD. That I was being too risky and specialized.

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Here’s a sample of some of the texts I’ll be covering for my Masters program.

Haven’t you faced something similar?

All my life, I knew I “wanted” to pursue a top-tier MBA program. My parents had high expectations of me. After all, my dad graduated from the reputable MIT Sloan School of Management. His hard work, sharp business acumen and, most importantly, his faith in God enabled him to rise through the corporate ladder, becoming the CEO and President of the largest company in Korea. I failed to appreciate the meaning behind his title until I visited his office.

Moreover, growing up in a Korean culture as the first grandson and son of my “Sohn” family burdened me with a heavy expectation that I needed to become a role model. That, I needed to succeed.

I knew I had to follow my dad’s footsteps. I knew I needed to earn his respect and love by performing and being known by the world. I was turning into a performance-driven addict.

Yet in the midst of these “noble” pursuits, I felt a deep, yawing chasm of emptiness within me. What is all this for? Is this what I really want? Or rather, is this what God wants in my life? Am I just trying to replicate what my dad has done for our family? Am I heading in the right direction?

All these questions haunted me for a few years. I prayed to God to reveal His truth in my life. I knew I was about to meet a fork in the road and had to make a life-changing decision.

God started to work in my life first by being brutally honest with my own heart. I started rejecting activities that was out of harmony with who I truly am, and be courageous enough to patiently pursue what I see to be God’s design for me. The result of this is freedom.

Gordon Smith, in his book “Courage and Calling,” writes:

“Freedom from ambition, freedom from the pressures and expectations of others, freedom to be who we are before God. It is a freedom to embrace the call of God upon our lives with joy and hope.” (p.76)

Smith says it is fear and anxiety that keeps us from pursuing God’s calling in our lives.

“Courage begins with honest about our fears. The wise know that fears haunt us from within and cripple us if we do not face them honestly.“

The fact of the matter is God designed me differently than my dad. I was more of an equipper, coach, and encourager who had a passion for leadership development. I don’t necessarily envision myself running an entire business, but rather I see myself as a coach and consultant who help leaders on how to lead more effectively. Being comfortable with this fact ultimately gave me a renewed sense of confidence and healthy identity of who I am. I no longer needed to compare myself against others who are following a different call.

Question: What fear is preventing you to from living out your calling?