Seeking a new perspective
It would have been better to read Os Guinness’s book the way he intended: only one chapter per day. Blazing through The Call: Finding and Fulfilling The Central Purpose of Your Life in a couple days was too much. Reflecting on ten pages each day over twenty-six days would have worked much better. My brain is overloaded and I’m feeling a bit numb.
An illustration perhaps that discovering something as substantial as your core life purpose doesn’t usually happen overnight. No, these things take time – a whole lot of precious time.
Not that I came away with nothing of value. There was, of course, the initial reminded that a deep sense of personal value and worth – not to mention a clear sense of calling – isn’t emphasized in every culture, philosophy or religion. While many people assume that this conviction is common everywhere, sadly, it just isn’t.
Unfortunately, large groups of people are taught to deny their true individuality, and talk about personal dignity and unique potential is routinely brushed aside. At the same time, many individuals carry on as if their lives matter although when pressed to give a reason are unsure exactly why; they live, coasting along, without compelling answers to critical life questions.
For the record, Dr. Guinness writes passionately about personal purpose as a committed Christian. And this is not a coincidence. Could it be that Christ’s arrival on the earth did more to affirm the value of each human being than anything else? For that matter, how much positive energy on this planet could finally be traced back to this source? Pausing to gaze east out of a western window, I wonder.
What else stood out during this supersonic survey?
Well, even a quick glance at the title of this book suggests that each person is called in some sense. It isn’t The Call: Becoming a Pastor or a Priest or The Call: Leaving your Family and Friends to Serve in Another Country or Culture Forever and Ever. Not at all. Who knows? It might even be perfectly normal to feel “called” to read a specific book and then write about it, or to do whatever you were doing before you decided to visit this website.
There is a word of caution here for all who desire to feel profoundly called and deeply inspired each and every moment of their lives. But at the same time, this book is written for all who aspire to have a greater sense of calling. And all of life is in view here – not just a small part of it.
Each chapter begins with a story, usually about somebody famous: William Wilberforce, Vaclav Havel, Andrew Carnegie, Pablo Picasso, Wolfgang Mozart, Ferdinand Magellan, and many others come up in the conversation. But Dr. Guinness also takes the time to tell about his family history and talk about his own story to introduce an aspect of calling. And yes, if “Guinness” sounds like the name of a famous Irish brew, you might be on to something.
Dr. Guinness has studied at Oxford, worked at L’Abri, reported for the BBC, and written or edited over 30 books. He has also served as a Senior Fellow at the Trinity Forum in the USA for many years. And yet, after reading his book, I am reminded that while calling certainly involves what we each do for a living, it also includes much more than just that. Calling is complicated, mysterious, all-encompassing and very much connected to the Caller.
One final observation: Discovering a greater sense of purpose often involves learning to view your life from a whole new perspective.
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