Business Leaders – Discussing The Meaning of Work Based
on a Biblical Foundation
On September 16th, 7 MEDIA held a Yong Professionals event called “Work Matters: Work and It’s Meaning” on the 3rd floor of the Shiodome Building in Tokyo’s Minato Ward Kaigan, asking businesspeople to explore the meaning of work from a Biblical perspective. The event featured guest speakers Takahide Akiyama (Redbridge Group Partner, Kyocei Consulting Partners representative), So-Young Kang (Awaken Group Catalyst, Creator and CEO), and Akira Endo (Vice President of Human Resources at DHL Japan). 80 people took part in spite of the arrival of “Typhoon 18” on the day of the event.
7MEDIA launched 2 years ago as the brainchild of Andy Game, who was responsible for introducing and promoting the Alpha Course evangelism program in Japan. Conceived as a ministry without a limited area of focus, it encompasses 7 spheres: (1) the arts / entertainment, (2) business and the workplace, (3) communications, (4) the disadvantaged (programs for those who are hurting), (5) education, (6) the family, (7) government and leadership. Young Professionals was an event targeting business people in the second sphere.
Akiyama spoke about how his life divided into “BC” and “AD” periods around the pivotal point of when he came to faith :
“During my BC period, my focus was on ‘what’ I was going to achieve. When I was making a decision about something my thought patterns would change depending on the circumstances and I was susceptible to what other people were thinking. However when I entered my AD period, my focus shifted to the ‘why’, and the foundation for my work became my motivations and the Golden Rule.”
He also talked about his experience of divorce, and how he was touched by Christianity and came to believe through his second wife.
“When I didn’t know God, my life revolved around work. Then, when I discovered the Bible, I found out the true meaning of marriage. This was my second chance.”
Four years ago, Kang started a business focusing on self-reinvention and transformation for executives. However, previously she had received an invitation to join a famous IT company. She decided to leave the company she had been with up to that point thinking, “Now I’ll be able to have a cool car and a rich lifestyle.” But when she prayed she felt that “God was saying, ‘Start a company for my sake.’” Trusting in God’s purposes, she turned down the offer at the IT company but had no idea what she was supposed to do next. However, it was the words of pastor at her church who said to her, “Why don’t you do something with involves raising up people?” that gave her the spark to start her company. Kang references Matthew 6:33, “Self-serving ambition is no good, but ambition rooted in God’s kingdom and His righteousness is a good thing.”
Endo, whose resume includes key human resources positions in top corporations Swiss Union Bank, GE Consumer Finance and Lehman Brothers, emphasized: “It’s important to get your life priorities straight.” For Endo, this means God is number one, followed by family, with friends and interests at number three, and work in fourth place. He encouraged participants, “It’s difficult to make that correction and change your priorities, but it pleases God. Please make sure you give yourself adequate time with God.”
During the question and answer session, the panel were asked about the nature of true prosperity. Akiyama responded, “Don’t think of it in terms of your ways and means; you must ask yourself whether you are seeking prosperity as seen from God’s eyes.” Kang stated, “I don’t see it in terms of prosperity or success. For me these last four years have rather been about making a lot of mistakes and learning a lot of things.” Endo answered, “Even if you make a mistake and lose your job, money is not the concern; it’s enough to know that someone understands you. What is important is to figure out what it is that you fear.”
Young Professionals is holding a continuing program of breakfast meetings. To find out more, please visit http://youngprofessionals.jp
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