Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

21 Quotes on Calling, Vocation and Leadership from One Thousand Wells: How an Audacious Goal Taught Me to Love the World Instead of Save It by Jena Lee Nardella

Jena Lee Nardella quoteJena Lee Nardella’s new book about her work as co-founder of Blood: Water Mission is my top book of the year. You can read my review of the book here.

We can learn much about calling, vocation and leadership from this inspiring book from a young leader. Here are 21 of my favorite quotes from the book:

  • The vision included serving African villages where women and children walk several miles a day to find water to keep them alive. It included providing clean water for one thousand of those African communities.
  • I see that the only way to reach an audacious goal is slowly by slowly.
  • Most important, I learned that to take on immovable mountains, the first thing you have to do is move. Before you try to conquer something as big as a mountain, you have to change.
  • I was unaware at the time that connecting an overlooked community to a community of resource would become the vocational pattern of my life.
  • Vocation is surprising like that. Sometimes we try to make it much more difficult than it is. We assume that we have to be martyrs, monks, or missionaries in order to be doing what God wants us to do. I hold fast to the words of novelist and theologian Frederick Buechner, who writes, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
  • How to inspire very compassionate but very busy people to care about what you believe is one of the most important things in the world.
  • Even today, my talents are not in being the most capable person in the room but in knowing when I need others and remaining teachable.
  • Dan responded. “A thousand is a number that we shouldn’t be comfortable with. If we get there, we know it wasn’t because of us. It’s audacious; it’s not possible. But it has to be done.”
  • But I had learned that the alignment of passion, skill set, and opportunity—those three pulses at the heart of vocation—is hard to find.
  • I began to ask questions that continue to shape me, and Blood: Water, today: How can we place anything—commerce, opinion, semantics—before caring for those in need? How can we paint “secular” and “sacred” labels while missing the vision that all things God touches are sacred, even if they are broken? And most of all: When do we overlook opportunities to love others because we’re so concerned with keeping ourselves safe?
  • Each of us was just beginning to learn that making an impact with your life is risky. Missional vocation will break you, taunt you, do whatever it can to test whether you mean it when you say you want to serve the poor or provide clean water in Africa or conquer a mountain.
  • “We are implicated in the lives of others, even those we have never met,” Steve Garber had often reminded me.
  • But sometimes best practices are less important than mercy.
  • And I felt the joy of it all, the alignment of calling, the thrill of connecting resources with a corner of the world’s need.
  • Looking around the room at Brooke’s loved ones, I understood in a new way that when you choose a calling, you don’t do so in isolation. The people you love are a part of your choice, too. They are the ones who rejoice the most with you when life goes well, and they are the ones who will bear the heaviest burdens should the world’s brokenness overtake you.
  • A vision for change is thrilling when you stand behind a soup kitchen counter or in a classroom buzzing with ideas or in the back room of a tour bus that overflows with dollar bills. But when you’re face-to-face with human depravity—sometimes others’ and oftentimes your own—it is extremely difficult to keep pressing forward with any conviction that it is worth it. I couldn’t decide if fighting the long defeat was a devastating way to look at vocation, or if it was simply the more honest and, therefore, more sustainable way.
  • This way of looking at the world means admitting that at some point along our vocational journey, we will not feel the rush of serving as we did once, but we will stay with it anyway. It means admitting that the world is indeed a hard place to live, and it will likely break our heart if we keep engaging with it, but we will choose to hope anyway.
  • When you choose to keep walking in a proximate direction, you define success differently than before.
  • The challenge is to wake up each day and live out your vocation in the same way true change happens in Africa: slowly by slowly, brick by brick. Faithfully entering the world does not require an advanced degree, a fancy job title, or endless resources. Vocation is a calling, an action, to be expressed wherever your feet are today.
  • Partnering directly with local people who are capable, compassionate, and hardworking and applying the values of dignity, relationship, and excellence—now that’s where you’ll see true success.
  • My calling is to do the one more thing in front of me. And then the next. If I can step into that, I want to be there. If stepping into this calling means stepping into hard times, I still want to be there.