Caregiving May Be Preparing You for Your Ikigai

by Apr 19, 2023Encouragement, Special Needs Parenting0 comments

Guest blogger Mark Arnold explains how caregiving might be preparing you for your ikigai—your passion and your calling.

Caregiving may be preparing you for your ‘ikigai’ says guest blogger Mark Arnold. It was for him. Today he explains what ikigai is and how it led him to the calling and work he’s engaged in now.

I heard a new word the other day—‘ikgai’. It describes a way of life that I have found myself living for several years. The word is a Japanese concept that means your ‘reason for being’. ‘Iki’ means ‘life’, and ‘gai’ describes ‘value’ or ‘worth’.

Your ikigai is your life purpose or bliss. It’s what brings you joy and inspires you to get out of bed every day. It is at the center of what you love, what you are good at, and what the world needs.

Another way to describe ‘ikigai’ is ‘calling.’

A few years ago, I had two work roles. One was as Chief Operating Officer for a national children’s and youth organization. The other was a part-time, add-on position that grew into almost a full-time role: heading up the special needs work for the same organization.

The first was an essential role that I performed quite well. That was what got me excitedly out of bed every morning. Performing both of them nearly broke me. In the end, the call to the role that was growing its reach and feeding my soul became irresistible. I put down my operations role to focus full time on the special needs work.

It was my calling. My ikigai.

It was the hard, but right decision to make. As a Christian, I experienced God’s guidance as I made the choice. I have seen the fruit of my decision grow over the last few years.

What is your calling? Your ikigai?

Have you found it?
Are you following it?
Do you know what it is, but it hasn’t all come together yet?
Or do you not yet know your calling?

I encourage you to take time to think through what your calling might be. If, like me, you have a faith, pray about it.

This template can help you think about it.

Finding your ikigai—your calling

Write down what you love, what you are good at, what the world needs, and what you could be paid or rewarded for. Notice where these things overlap. This exercise can reveal your passion, your profession, your vocation, and your mission. Together these four things will help you discover your ikigai. Your calling.

When I look at this, I see the answers and how God has been preparing me for many years to follow my calling now. Maybe you are still being prepared. Pray that you will be shown a glimpse of what the exciting future that God has planned for you will look like if you follow it.

It could be that present-day caregiving may be preparing you for your ikigai.

Whether you are reading this as a professional who works with children, youth, or families, a church leader, a special needs parent and/or caregiver, finding your ikigai and operating within your calling is important.

I don’t think of my job as ‘work’ anymore. I think of it as what I’m ‘meant’ to do. It’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. If someone gave me a million dollars, I would still do what I do.

I can’t not do it. It’s my calling. My ikigai.

What’s yours?

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Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

By Mark Arnold

Mark Arnold is the Additional Needs Ministry Director at Urban Saints, a leading national Christian children’s and youth organization. He is co-founder of the Additional Needs Alliance, a national and international advocate for children and young people with additional needs or disabilities. Mark is a Churches for All and Living Fully Network partner, a member of the Council for Disabled Children and the European Disability Network. He writes an additional needs column for Premier Youth and Children’s Work (YCW) magazine and blogs at The Additional Needs Blogfather. He is father to James, who has autism spectrum condition, associated learning disability, and epilepsy. To find out more about how Mark’s work can help you, contact him at: or @Mark_J_Arnold


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Meet Jolene

Jolene Philo is a published author, speaker, wife, and mother of a son with special needs.



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