My cousin recently graduated from college and I wanted to get her a good book for the transition to her career and working life. Something that addresses the subject of calling, both vocational and life-ward (if that’s a word!). I’ve been reading a lot about vocational calling and how God can make our work meaningful, fulfilling, joyful, and difference-making. But none of the books I had discovered spoke to the spiritual seeker and the Christian who want to find the central purpose of their life in particular. I got to the point where I thought such a book hadn’t been written—at least for today’s audience. It was two days before her graduation ceremony when I stumbled across a book that I had placed on my to-read-soon shelf about a year ago. After studying the back cover I thought this could be it!
For centuries, finding purpose in life has been at the heart of the human quest. Yet, for many, the path to purpose remains urgent but unclear. In this best-selling modern classic, Os Guinness invites you to explore the ultimate answer to identity, meaning, and purpose. The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life, speaks to the longing in every human heart and answers—You were created with a purpose. The Call further enriches your search for purpose with a practical study guide to accompany you through your own journey or to facilitate group exploration. This book is for all, seekers and believers, who long to find and fulfill the purpose of their lives. Have you found “the ultimate why” for your life? Will you respond to the call?
Os Guinness has written the book I was looking for. In its 26 chapters, the author examines the many facets of “calling” as if he is studying a precious jewel. Turning the subject of calling just so, the light refracts in a surprising way revealing one unique truth of calling after another. Each chapter begins with an intriguing historical narrative that illustrates the particular aspect of calling that is the focus of the chapter. The author writes in an intelligent, compelling, readable, and accessible manner that both educates and stimulates the reader, making us hungry again for the purpose and meaning we gave up on long ago when the burdens of the world crushed our spirit. Nearly every chapter includes a summary of a certain truth of calling. Here are his summaries:
1. Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service.
2. When something more than human seeking is needed if seeking is to be satisfied, then calling means that seekers themselves are sought.
3. The notion of calling, or vocation, is vital to each of us because it touches on the modern search for a basis for individual identity and an understanding of humanness itself.
4. Our primary calling as followers of Christ is by him, to him, and for him. Our secondary calling, considering who God is as sovereign, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him.
5. God normally calls us along the line of our giftedness, but the purpose of giftedness is stewardship and service, not selfishness.
6. Words are the deepest, fullest expression in which God now discloses himself to us, beginning with his calling us. So it is in listening to him, trusting him, and obeying him when he calls that we “let God be God” in all of his awe and majesty.
7. A life lived listening to the decisive call of God is a life lived before one audience that trumps all others—the Audience of One.
8. God’s calling is the key to igniting a passion for the deepest growth and highest heroism in life.
9. The notion of calling is vital to the modern search for a basis for moral responsibility and to an understanding of ethics itself.
10. The call of Jesus is personal but not purely individual; Jesus summons his followers not only to an individual calling but also to a corporate calling.
11. Calling reminds Christians ceaselessly that, far from having arrived, a Christian is someone who in this life is always on the road as “a follower of Christ” and a follower of “the Way.”
12. The reverse side of calling is the temptation of conceit.
13. The truth of calling touches closely on the link between giftedness and desire and the almost inescapable temptation of envy.
14. Calling, which played a key role in the rise of modern capitalism, is one of the few truths capable of guiding and restraining it now.
15. Calling is the best antidote to the deadly sin of sloth.
16. Calling directly counters the great modern pressure toward secularization because the call of Jesus includes a summons to the exercise of the spiritual disciplines and the experience of supernatural realities.
17. Calling directly counters the great modern pressure toward privatization because of its insistence that Jesus Christ is Lord of every sphere of life.
18. Calling directly counters the great modern pressure toward pluralization because the call of Jesus provides the priorities and perspectives that are essential for a focused life in an overloaded age.
19. Calling, by breaking through with an outside perspective on the present, is a prime source of Christian vision and Christian visionaries.
20. Calling transforms life so that even the commonplace and menial are invested with the splendor of the ordinary.
21. Calling is a reminder for followers of Christ that nothing in life should be taken for granted; everything in life must be received with gratitude.
22. Calling entails the cost of discipleship. The deepest challenge is to renounce self and identify with Jesus in his sufferings and rejection.
23. Calling is an essential part of the sense of timing that characterizes a successful life.
24. Calling is central to the challenge and privilege of finishing well in life.
I couldn’t help read the rest of the book after I gave it to my cousin for her grad gift. I found another copy in the church library and took it with me on the drive to the graduation ceremony. Passengers in the car were drawn to the book as it rested on the back seat, and read it for hours! It’s that good. Trust me, you need to get this book. Read it slowly, perhaps one chapter a day. Digest it, meditate on it, put its suggestions into practice, pray through it, and above all—answer The Call.