Courage and calling
Courage & Calling: Embracing your God-given potential could have been designed with this website in mind. But of course it wasn’t. The author, Gordon T. Smith, wrote the first edition back in 1999 during a sabbatical in the midst of a personal transition. The edition I picked up had been revised in 2011, about the time this online resource began to take shape.
Search and you will find that all sorts of people have been reflecting and talking and writing about these issues for a long period of time. And this, I suspect, will never change. Or at least not any time soon. And each person brings something unique to the discussion.
Gordon grew up in Ecuador and worked in the Philippines before arriving in Canada, and most recently Calgary, where he now serves as the president of Ambrose University. He is ordained with the Christian & Missionary Alliance in Canada, has a Ph.D. from Ateneo de Manila University, and has been working as an academic and administrator in theological colleges for most of his life.
But fear not, this isn’t a dry or dull academic document. It is written, rather, in a straightforward and accessible style and is quite easy to read. As an aside, I found that focusing on this book was more refreshing and enjoyable – and likely beneficial – than staring at a computer screen for the same period of time.
What is this book essentially about? And who will benefit from taking the time to read it?
As the title suggests, the focus is on the courage that each of us will require in order to live out our unique vocation or calling. Courage & Calling is roughly divided in half. The first half is dedicated to a theological vision (for lack of a better phrase) for work and practical insight about the career selection process. The next half begins with a closer look at four specific types of work: business, the arts, education, and religious leadership. What follows is a discussions surrounding five “points of leverage” or rather ways in which we can each increase our effectiveness. This includes: developing courage, continuous learning, emotional resilience, working well with others, and establishing structure and order in our lives.
Of all the points of leverage discussed, Gordon feels that developing emotional resilience is likely the most important one. With this in mind, on page 221, you will read this: “Lack of emotional maturity and resilience will sabotage our lives and vocations.” Strong words perhaps, but nonetheless words that need to be taken to heart.
Unlike other books I have read, and briefly reviewed, this one has a strong emphasis on the organizational side of life. In other words, you will find practical advice here specifically in terms of how to be more effective within a particular organization. At the same time, Gordon emphasizes the importance of carefully selecting where you work. This may sound like a luxury to some. But it makes sense to find a place to work that is a fit with who you are as a person if at all possible. There is also practical advice here related to deciding when it might be a good idea to resign and move on.
One more point to ponder related to content.
Throughout his book, Gordon addresses a number of misunderstandings related to the career selection progress, particularly within the various Christian communities he has been a part of. For example, he feels that personal desire has been misunderstood and often regrettably downplayed. At the same time, he thinks that there has been too much emphasis on meeting immediate needs and not enough instruction on how to determine which needs to meet. For a sense of personal vision and direction is required in order to live a more effective life.
Trying to figure out what do to next? Longing for more of a sense of person direction and focus in your life? Interested in discovering what a “theological vision” for your career might look like? Hoping to move beyond a merely secular take on life? Well then, reading this book would likely be well worth your time.
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