Master of One: Find and Focus on the Work You Were Created to Do by Jordan Raynor. WaterBrook. 240 pages. 2020
This is an excellent book about our calling, or as Jordan Raynor, author of Called to Create, refers to as our “one thing”. Raynor tells us that we tend to be good at a lot of different things, but we aren’t excellent, masterful, or exceptional at any one of them. He encourages us not to be satisfied to say that we are a “jack of all trades, but master of none”. Instead, in order to best glorify God and love others through our vocations, he writes that we must do our work with excellence. And we can’t do our most excellent work until we actually discern the work God has created us to do most exceptionally well, and then, once we’ve found it, focus on becoming a master of that craft. How to find that work and master it is what this book is all about.
In the book the author builds a case around this core idea, leaning heavily on God’s Word, extensive research of the world’s best business and scientific literature, his own personal experiences, and the stories of more than twenty Christians (Eric Liddell, C. S. Lewis, Tony Dungy, Fred Rogers, and Chip and Joanna Gaines, as well as people you may not be familiar with), who are undeniable masters of one vocational thing.
The book is divided the book into three parts – The Purpose of Mastery, The Path to Mastery and The Promise of Mastery. The author has developed a free “Master of One Notebook,” filled with practical prompts, additional resources, and plenty of space for the reader to download and work out how the ideas in the book apply to your own work. Each chapter ends with a helpful Chapter Summary, Key Scripture and Next Action.
The author tells us that if we want to make our greatest contribution to the world for the glory of God and the good of others, we are going to have to adopt the mind-set of a craftsperson and get “really focused and insanely good” at the thing God has put us on this earth to do. He states that the truth is that we can’t “do it all” so long as you accept that God has called you to excellence in all things. Instead, the wiser path is the one he explores throughout the book, making every effort to discern the one vocational thing God has called us to in this season of life and working at it with all our hearts.
Below are my favorite quotes from the book:
- We feel God’s pleasure when we know we are doing the work he created us to do.
- The path to making the greatest impact through our work is the path of less but better, of continually pruning our careers in order to focus on the work we were created to do most exceptionally well for the glory of God and the good of others.
- You achieve true mastery when you identify the few things God has created you to do most exceptionally well and work at them “with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23).
- Passion follows mastery, not the other way around.
- Masterful work requires tremendous focus.
- The most fundamental reason why we Christians ought to pursue excellence in our work is to bring glory to God and love our neighbors as ourselves.
- Our work can only be a calling if someone calls us to it, and we work for their agenda rather than our own. For the Christian, this means working for the sake of our Savior. What is his agenda? To glorify God and love our neighbors as ourselves.
- Our one thing ought to be where our passions and gifts collide with the greatest opportunity to love and serve others through masterful work.
- Choosing your vocation is not about choosing between good and bad or right and wrong. It is about choosing between better and best.
- If we are unwilling to say no to the nonessential in order to focus on the work we feel called to master, we are selfishly holding back the contribution God has called us to make in the world.
- There is no end to the path of mastery. Mastery is not a destination but a lifelong journey of continually honing our crafts in order to more effectively declare the excellencies of our Creator and serve those around us, always believing that “better is possible.”
- We were not created for mediocrity. We were created for mastery.