Beyond WORK with Alvin Ung


What is my purpose in life?


On Saturday, November 25, 2017, the Beyond WORK event saw 78 young adults and adults gathered to glean insights from Alvin Ung, an oft-sought speaker on the timeless topic of leadership. It was organized by Graduates’ Christian Fellowship (GCF) Malaysia in collaboration with Sungai Way-Subang Methodist Church (SSMC).



Twice named as Fellow at Khazanah Nasional, the sovereign wealth fund of Malaysia; and co-founder of Leaderonomics, an award-winning social enterprise in leadership development, the bestselling author of Barefoot Leadership aims to grow leaders who embrace their calling in life.



The interactive session challenged participants to think about how to be led by purpose, and how to lead others along the path of purpose. Alvin presented three questions on purpose-led leadership:

  1. Why do we lose our way?
  2. How did Jesus live with purpose?
  3. In what ways are we being led to go beyond?


How do we lose our way?

The session began with a fun icebreaker. Participants rated themselves on a scale of 1 to 10, on the degree to which they feel a sense of purpose in life. About half were found near the midpoint, between 4 to 6 – an indication that many were at a crossroads; perhaps feeling torn between what they want and what others expect of them.

Alvin noted that this tendency is often observed in a collectivist Asian society, where many of us live with expectations from those around us, which leads to the individual feeling ‘lost’ – The WE overwhelms the ME. In the West however, the focus tends to weigh heavily on the ME, which largely overshadows the WE. It is this dynamic between the WE and ME that we continually wrestle with in life.

At the intersection of the ME + WE is where we find our purpose. Who we are is a reflection of where we belong; in turn, the people around us often impact who we become.



How did Jesus live with purpose?

In the near future, artificial intelligence will make obsolete many jobs in the world today – even works of art like abstract paintings and paragraphs of creative writing stories can be created by AI. It is inevitable that we will soon be replaced by machines.

If we define ourselves by the things that we do, we would easily lose our sense of significance.

At the beginning of His public ministry, Jesus found it necessary to declare His purpose, through Scripture:


Luke 4:18-19

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,

   because he has anointed me

   to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives

   and recovering of sight to the blind,

   to set at liberty those who are oppressed,

   to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”


It did not stop there. Jesus continued to discern His purpose: from the time of His baptism filled with glory and love seen by all, to struggling with God’s will in the desert, to ministering to crowds in Capernaum and retreating to the mountains for solitude, to the journey to Jerusalem, to the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, and finally to the cross and His resurrection.

Just as Jesus found His purpose in Scripture, it is necessary for us to find ours in Him. And just as it took time for Jesus to discern His purpose of what God wanted of Him, it would take time for us. The process of discerning our purpose can be likened to experiencing a sense of unfolding of greater clarity.

So, do not feel bad if you have yet to see a clear vision of your calling!



In what ways are we being led to go beyond?

What motivates you to go beyond your 9-to-6 job?

Perhaps a new definition of ‘work’ is required, in order for us to create meaning and impact others, and benefit our communities.

Determined to find the good way for life’s important questions, Alvin had traveled to 10 countries in Asia to learn from 100 purpose-led leaders, individuals who live their lives with a clear sense of purpose.

One of them is Dylan Wilk, who in the year 2000 was named by The Guardian as the 9th richest person in the United Kingdom under the age of 30. Today, he is CEO and co-founder of Human Nature, a social enterprise in the Philippines. He has found his purpose in work – to love others. In a video, he shares, “When you set out with the right heart and mindset, God will fill in the gaps for you. Whenever you are faced with a decision, just do the right thing. Just choose to do good. And even if it doesn’t seem like the best decision at the time, it will prove to be the right thing.”

Another person is Dr Devi Shetty, founding chairman of Narayana Health, the world’s largest heart hospital. When asked how he was awakened to his purpose, he replied, “We grossly underestimate the power of purpose. When we are sure, when we are convinced about the purpose of our actions, everything else becomes a minor detail.” He attributes his perception of life to Mother Teresa, whom he had looked after as a cardiologist in the final years of her life.

We, too are called to discern our purpose and live it out where we are – in our workplace, family and community.



Final takeaways

Towards the end of the session, participants were divided into small groups to discuss their core values, core strengths, life-giving goals, and calling. It concluded with a short Q&A and a timely reminder to be driven by God’s love, instead of fear – for perfect love casts out fear.

To learn more about Alvin Ung’s latest book, Together: Finding Purpose at the Crossroads of ME+WE, log on to



GCF & SSMC are organising a series of talks and fellowship sessions for graduates to learn and engage with experienced speakers on various issues that working adults are facing. Do join us for Beyond Headstart: Beyond MALAYSIA in January 2018.

Register now at


|Share The Good News|

Anna Teoh

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.