Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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4 Recommended Books on Calling

During a message I gave last year on living on mission for God, some in attendance indicated that they were not familiar with the subject of calling. That doesn’t surprise me. We don’t often hear terms such as calling and vocation used today. If we were to admit it, many of those we work with, and perhaps some of us, view work as a necessary evil. Most don’t look at their work as a vocation, a calling, or even a career. No, it’s just a job. They embrace Loverboy’s “Working for the Weekend” philosophy, celebrate reaching “Hump Day”, ask “Is it Friday yet?” and get the “Sunday Night Blues” as they think about going to work on Monday morning.

The dictionary has two definitions of calling that are relevant here:

  • A strong inner impulse toward a particular course of action especially when accompanied by conviction of divine influence.
  • The vocation or profession in which one customarily engages.

In The Call, the most helpful book I’ve read on our calling as believers, author Os Guinness tells us that our calling is deeper than our jobs, our career, and all of our benchmarks of success.  We should not let our jobs define us and give us our identities. However, we spend so much of our waking time doing our work, this can certainly happen. Think of when you meet someone. You ask them what they “do”. We can become what we do. Guinness tells us that calling reverses such thinking, and a sense of calling should precede a choice of job and career. The main way to discover our calling is along the line of what we are each created and gifted to be. So, instead of thinking that you are what you do, calling says to do what you are. Continue reading

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Should Religious Belief Inform Public Policy? Russell Moore writes “My calling as citizen is different from my calling as church member (I don’t care if my pastor understands how to deal with regime change in Syria). But, as a Christian, though I don’t confuse any of these spheres, I am accountable for whether I acted justly or wickedly in any of them. And so are you.”
  • What If Work Isn’t My Passion? Missy Wallace writes “Of all the books I’ve read about career discernment, I find a section of Os Guinness’s The Call, to be incredibly clarifying and encouraging.
  • Where Does God Want Me to Work? David Mathis writes “How should you go about discerning God’s direction after graduation? Or how do you find God’s will for your work-life?”


  • Biblical Womanhood Deconstructed. Anna Arnold writes “Proverbs 31 shows us all that we cando and be as women—all the work God has for us to do.”
  • Motherhood as a Vocation. Kate Harris writes “As I think about what it means to faithfully pursue my work as a mom, I hope myself and others can commit to this larger vision of our role as “culture shapers” who can hold our own beside PhDs and playwrights, lest we be tempted to think our daily occupation as nose-wipers and shuttle drivers is anything less than a grand enterprise.”
  • The Common Calling of All Women. Abigail Dodds writes “The pertinent question for women entering the workforce or motherhood or setting up their home or any sphere of work is this: Am I faithfully obeying God as his child by meeting the genuine needs of others, or am I pursuing self-actualization, self-fulfillment, or selfish ambition apart from him?”

  • Defining Vocation. In this talk, Kate Harris helps us understand calling and identity through the old and rich concept of “vocation.”
  • Six Practices of the Church: Vocation. In this talk, Greg Thompson tells us that we are all involved in some sort of vocation. No matter where or what it is, we know that God calls us to be faithful in those places. We have the opportunity to practice vocation in a way that makes the world a better place.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More links to interesting article
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Dare to Serve: How to Drive Superior Results by Serving Others by Cheryl Bachelder
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life.

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith by David Goetsch
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life.

Continue reading

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Here are several new or upcoming books, in a variety of genres, that I’m looking forward to (descriptions are courtesy of Amazon):

Believe It: My Journey of Success, Failure, and Overcoming the Odds by Nick Foles

To be published June 26.

“When the Philadelphia Eagles’ starting quarterback went down with a torn ACL in week 14 of the 2017 NFL season, many fans—and commentators—assumed the Eagles’ season was over.
Instead, Nick Foles came off the bench and, against all odds, led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl victory in history.
How did Nick get it done—winning MVP honors, silencing the critics, and shocking the world? How did the man who was on the verge of retiring just two seasons earlier stay optimistic and rally the team to an astounding win? How did he stay ready despite numerous trades and discouraging injuries, able to step up in the moment and perform at the top of his game?
Believe It offers a behind-the-scenes look at Nick’s unlikely path to the Super Bowl, the obstacles that threatened to hold him back, his rediscovery of his love for the game, and the faith that grounded him through it all. Learn from the way Nick handled the trials and tribulations that made him into the man he is today—and discover a path to your own success.” Continue reading

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My Favorite Books on Faith and Work, Calling and Productivity

I have a passion for integrating my faith and my work and talking to others about how to do it. Over the past few years, I’ve read a number of helpful books in the faith and work, calling and productivity genres. Below are my favorites:

Five Books on Integrating Faith and Work

  • Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Tim Keller with Katherine Leary. Keller helps to illuminate the transformative and revolutionary connection between the Christian faith and the workplace. He encourages believers to think about their work through the lens of a Christian worldview. He structures the book around three questions: Why do we want to work? Why is it so hard to work? How can we overcome the difficulties and find satisfaction in our work through the gospel? This book introduced me to Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s Center for Faith and Work, something I would like to model in my community.
  • Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work by Tom Nelson. Nelson looks at Os Guinness’ discussion of our primary and secondary callings in his excellent book The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life and focuses on our secondary calling (to do a specific work) in this book. He looks at work through a biblical lens in the first section of the book and focuses on how God shapes our lives in and through our work in the second section.  The author, who is a pastor, includes helpful “Questions for Reflection and Discussion” and a “Prayer for Our Work” at the end of each chapter. He mentions that the Center for Faith and Work at Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church (mentioned above) has been a catalyst for his church to think more intentionally about equipping their congregation in vocational mission.
  • God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Edward Veith. This book is an exposition of the doctrine of vocation and an attempt to apply that doctrine in a practical way to our life in the twenty-first century. He first looks at the nature of vocation: the purpose of vocation, how to find our vocation, how God calls us to different tasks and how He is present in what we do in our lives. Then he looks at specific vocations (as a worker, in the family, as a citizen, and in the church), and specific problems common to them all.
  • Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good by Amy L. Sherman. This is a book about vocational stewardship that is primarily written for pastors and ministry leaders, particularly those already committed to leading missional churches (those that seek to follow King Jesus on the mission of making all things new). It would be an excellent book for these leaders to recommend to those they lead to help them integrate their faith and work.
  • Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good by Steven Garber. The author invites the reader to “come and see” that the vision of vocation he writes about is being lived out by men and women who are committed to a faith that shapes a vocation that in turn shapes culture. He writes that there is not a more difficult task that human beings face than to know the world and still love it. A recurring question that he asks throughout the book is “Knowing what I know, what will I do?” This book is best read slowly as he weaves in stories to illustrate his points.

Two Books on Calling

  • The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness. The author writes that there is no deeper meaning than to discover and live out your calling. He states that there is no calling without a Caller, and if there is no Caller, there are no callings, only work. He states that it is never too late to discover your calling, which is deeper than our jobs, our career, and all of our benchmarks of success. He discusses our primary and secondary callings and the two distortions (Catholic and Protestant) that have crippled the truth of calling. An excellent abridged version of this book is available entitled Rising to the Call.
  • The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do by Jeff Goins. This book is an excellent introduction to the subject of calling. It’s easy to read, interesting and practical. The book is organized into three major sections – Preparation, Action and Completion. In those sections he covers seven overlapping stages of calling – Awareness, Apprenticeship, Practice, Discovery, Profession, Mastery and Legacy. In each stages he uses interesting stories to illustrate the stage. In the Appendix, he includes a summary of the seven stages, seven signs you’ve found your calling and seven exercises to complete. He also includes questions for discussion that will be helpful if you’re reading and discussing the book with others.

Two Books on Productivity

  • Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity by Tim Challies. This new book is an extremely efficient, well-organized, easy to read and practical book. The author’s aim is to help the reader do more of what matters most and do it better. He writes that our productivity depends to a good degree on identifying and using the best tools (management, scheduling and information), for the job and then growing in your proficiency with them. He also discusses concepts such as a “Weekly Review” and includes helpful “Action Steps” at the end of each section.
  • What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman. The author states that the book is about getting things done and making ideas happen with less friction and frustration from a biblical perspective. He helps the reader think about productivity as Christians. He aims to help us live the life that God has called us to live and live it with maximum effectiveness and meaning. He introduces us to the concept of Gospel Driven Productivity, which looks at not only what the Bible has to say about getting things done, but also learns from the best secular thinking. He uses the DARE Model – Define, Architect, Reduce, and Execute.

These are my favorite faith and work, calling and productivity books. Do you have others to add to the list?

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4 Ways to Find Work That You Love

Marcus Buckingham QuoteHave you ever talked to someone who absolutely loves the work that they do? They actually don’t see it as “work”, and enjoy doing it each day. If so, and if you are not in that type of a situation right now – and chances are you are not – you might have been a bit envious of them. In fact, in his book The Truth About You: Your Secret to Success, Marcus Buckingham states that fewer than two out of ten of us get to play to our strengths at work most of the time.

So what can we do about this? Here’s a few ways that I have thought of to help you find the work you love:

  1. Consider Your Calling. The concept of a calling is not something you hear a lot of people talk about these days, but I can point you to a few excellent resources to get started. The best book on the subject that I’ve found is The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness, a book that I read in Dr. Philip Douglass’s excellent Spiritual and Ministry Formation class at Covenant Seminary two years ago. An abridged and more accessible version of the book is Guinness’s Rising to the Call.

a.  Guinness tells us that for Christians, our primary calling is by Him, to Him, and for Him. The first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it this way: “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”

b.  Guinness states that our secondary calling, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him. Our secondary callings can be our jobs or vocations. Guinness states that these and other things are always the secondary, never the primary calling. They are “callings” rather than the “calling.”

A new, and more secular approach to the subject of calling is The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. Goins tells us that finding your calling is a path, rather than a plan. He refers to our secondary calling as the reason you were born. I wouldn’t quite go that far, believing for example that the reason I was born was to worship God and tell others about Him. However, I would apply what Goins writes as to say that our secondary calling is the work that we were born to do. He also refers to this calling as that thing you just cannot not do. It is not a destination, but a journey that doesn’t end until you die.

A third resource I would recommend is Matt Perman’s excellent book What’s Best Next, which I’m reading and discussing with some friends at work. Matt writes about calling and challenges his readers to develop a personal mission statement, core principles (those things that we would do even if it was to your disadvantage), and a life goal. Here’s a link to my article about personal mission statements.

Have you ever given much thought to your calling or callings? Or do you just see your work as something you need to do until that day you can retire?

2.  Use Assessment Tools. I’m a big proponent of assessment tools such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), or Marcus Buckingham’s Strengthsfinder and new Stand Out 2.0 to help myself and others better understand ourselves to help find work we love. These assessments provide you reports that help you to better understand your strengths, and decide whether you are an introvert or extrovert. For example, I am an introvert. I’ve also greatly been helped in understanding being an introvert by Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. See my review here.

Have you used one of these assessments, or perhaps another one? Did it add value to you, and help you to better understand yourself, leading to helping you to find work that you love?

3.  Use the concepts from Marcus Buckingham’s strengths teaching to determine work activities that strengthen and weaken you. I’m a big proponent of Buckingham’s teaching on strengths (see a list of all of his books here). Buckingham writes that “Strengths are not activities you’re good at, they’re activities that strengthen you. A strength is an activity that before you’re doing it you look forward to doing it; while you’re doing it time goes by quickly and you can concentrate; after you’ve done it, it seems to fulfill a need of yours.” He states that focusing on strengths is the surest way to greater job satisfaction, team performance and organizational excellence. I was particularly helped with his work in Go Put Your Strengths to Work, where he helps you identify those activities that strengthen you, and those that weaken or drain you. I’m passionate about this, so if you would like to talk more about it, please let me know.

4.  Work with your mentors. Lastly, work with your mentors to help find work that matches your skills, experiences, personality and strengths profile. The emerging leaders that I work with – on my team and mentees – all have multiple mentors, rather than just one. That is something I advocate to get a diversity of opinions, experiences and coaching. If you are not working with mentors, start today by reading my article about the benefits.

I have seen the difference in people when they find work that they truly love. It can be powerful as the light comes on for them. They look forward to coming to work and making a difference. Is that the case with you? If not, consider these four thoughts and start your journey to finding work that you love. And let me know how your journey is going. I’d love to hear from you – just click ‘Leave a comment’ on the left side of the home page.