Stepping Off The Treadmill

This is a personal testimony by Glennis Shih, Epic NYC staff, from February 2010.  She shares about stepping off the success “treadmill”, despite parental pressures, to discover the vocation she truly desired.



I grew up in a very success-driven family.

My parents always stressed the importance of getting good grades, going to good schools and getting very good jobs (Of course, this meant becoming a doctor or lawyer!). Growing up I always felt like I was on a “success-treadmill.”

I had to work hard and get into the supposedly best-high-school-in-NY and an Ivy-league university. I had to graduate with honors to get into a prestigious graduate school or get a good job. I did whatever was necessary to do well: sometimes to the point of not eating or socializing with anyone. So, yes.  My studies often prevented me from developing deeper friendships with others. Plus, I cheated a lot…and this got me in a lot of trouble.  As you can imagine, running on this success treadmill left me always feeling exhausted, anxious and constantly fearful of failure.

It wasn’t until I went to a conference my junior year of college that I even considered stepping off this treadmill.  At the conference, the speaker talked about how people “stockpiled their resumes.” In other words, many people filled up their resumes to make themselves look good, not because they truly cared about those things but because it would get them a safe job. I realized I had been doing that my whole life!

But the speaker went on to share from a verse in the Bible which said: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” I realized that all my life I had been conforming myself to the patterns that my family set for me, and the patterns the world set up. I had been conforming myself to what they determined was good or successful. I realized I had been too afraid to consider other alternatives.  I didn’t know what I was truly passionate about.

Then I read Psalm 139, which reminded me that there was someone who DID know! It was my Creator, and this brilliant God had written an instruction manual for my life called the Bible.  Yet I wrestled a lot with God. I questioned whether His plans for me were really, as He said: “good, pleasing and perfect.”  I knew that if I actually pursued what I was really excited about, my parents would possibly disown me, people in general would think I was strange, and I would most likely live a financially difficult life.

But in my heart I knew that while I’d possibly be okay serving in a profession such as social work, I wouldn’t be doing what I was truly passionate about.  That is, to share with people where they can find ultimate hope and healing, through having a personal relationship with God.  5 years after I graduated, I joined the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ. Now, I’m doing what I love every day: talking to people about God and answering their questions about faith.

Initially, my family was very upset with me, to the point of practically disowning me. When I first served overseas, my parents told me to “go and never come home.” My mom cried a lot and stamped her feet. My brother said to me, “You’re going to regret this for the rest of your life.”

And at first I had some financial difficulties, since as staff we have to fundraise our entire salary. But over time, God really provided: I’ve never received a short paycheck and my mom has grown so much in her faith through my decision. The most amazing thing is that my brothers, who have prestigious careers, have actually shared with me how much they admire and envy me…that I was able to do what I really wanted.  I found it really poignant that my Heavenly Father knew better than anyone what kind of life would give me true purpose and security.

That’s why I love my job, and I will continue sharing with people that they too don’t have to settle for a mediocre, safe life. They can live an exciting life of purpose and meaning through a relationship of knowing their Creator. And my hope for you all is that you would experience that as well!

Discussion Questions:

1.  Glennis talks a lot about her family. What is your family like? Do their opinions matter greatly to you in major decisions?

2. Describe a time you experienced being on a “success-treadmill.”

3. What motivates you or makes you feel complete?

4. What would you lean towards: living a life that is “safe” but possibly mediocre or living a life that is “exciting” but possibly dangerous? Why?