Today I had two fascinating, long, good conversations about what many call, these days, a “purpose-driven life” or a “search for significance.” The first was with a gang of high school business students at Central York High School, where I was asked to speak about why we started Hearts & Minds 25 years ago, what the benefits and liabilities of owning your own business might be, and how to integrate personal convictions and vision with a business plan. While I mentioned our business goals and advertising plans and money management, I felt strongly to invite these future entrepreneurs to think big, seek out their passions and gifts, and ask big questions about life, times, vocations and community service.
I got to share some of our early dreams (how young we were) to cook up this thing, our passion to run our own business, our love for books and love for people, our hope to forge a way of life that harmonized various sides of life—family, work, church, community, politics…
Shortly thereafter, I talked with a friend I admire, a guy who has great vision for relating faith and business, right livlihood and corporate ethics, and who happens to be involved in helping plan others’ financial futures. Righteous dude that he is, he knows that his clients may have money to manage, but the real issue is that they have lives to life. He wants to help them get a vision for what they feel called to, and help them think about their personal goals and assets in a way that is consistent with their values and best hopes. Come to think of it, maybe he should have done the High School talk.
Anyway, here are a few books that might be of interst to anybody who is thinking about purpose, meaning, vocation and such. Instead of listing serious theological books on this as I am sometimes wont to do, I’ve listed some pretty easy reads. My new high school friends might even get a kick out of some (even though a few swore that they don’t read.) And my professional guy could use these with nearly any of this clients.
You should know (if you read this blog or my book reviews over at the website) that I have been deeply moved and greatly influenced by the excellent and wonderfully-penned classic The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life (Word; $17.99) by Os Guinness. I won’t even mention that one here. And I won’t make one of those computer facey things with a semi-colon that looks like a wink.
Living on Purpose: Finding GodÃ•s Best for Your Life Christine & Tom Sine (Baker) $14.99 Tom is the only guy I know who is more energetic and visionary than Tony Campolo; he brings a broad social vision and offers very practical advise about creating a personal mission statement, so that families can form communities with others to make a difference over their life-time. Focused on GodÃ•s call to transforming culture and whole-life discipleshipÃ‘around the theme of purposeÃ‘before Purpose Driven Life. IÃ•ve promoted it as a perfect follow-up. My kind of folksÃ‰
What Now: Making Sense of Who You Are and Where YouÃ•re Going Marc Estes (Relevant) $19.99 This brand new one is one of the first hardcovers that Relevant released; handsome, young, vibrant. Ed Young (who is really popular these days) wrote the forward. All about finding a fulfilled and passionate life, through focus and resolve to pursue the bestÃ‰nice. It really is rooted in very traditional Christian doctrine and has several appendices with inventories about spiritual gifts and such.
Made To Count: Discovering What to Do With Your Life Bob Record & Randy Singer (Word) $13.99 This includes acess to a free online personality profile and gifts analysis. This starts off asking not what are you best at, but “What is your greatest fear?” Fascinating, for anybody that wants practical advise about how to leave a positive imprint on the world…and yet struggles with fear of failure. Both visionary and quite practical.
Whose Life Is It, Anyway? Neil Hood (Authentic Books) $9.99 I love the depth and clarity of these, thoughtful, British evangelicalsÃ‰this goes along with a nice companion handbook about work, called Whose Work Is It Anyway? The subtitle of this reads: “A Lifeline in a Stress-Soaked WorldÃ“ and has chapters on various sides of life, showing practical ways to develop a uniquely Christian perspective. There is some good, brief teaching on resources, money, stewardship; stuff on work, citizenship, ethics, etc. Applied worldview thinking.
Don’t Waste Your Life John Piper (Crossway) $15.99 Radical Baptist preacher man John Piper doesn’t mince words. He insists that the Bible teaches that we are made for joy. And joy comes from finding pleasure in God. So everything we do—everything!—must be done for God’s glory. What freedom, purpose, danger. What a life. This edition comes with a DVD of him preaching up a storm at the Passion conference. Kids: you can watch the video, and then read the book.
Visioneering: God’s Blueprint for Developing and Maintaining Personal Vision Andy Stanley (Multnomah) $12.99 Some people really love this book, a practical guide to develop GodÃ•s blueprint for your life, and for maintaining personal vision. Powerful, but basic. Very good for emerging leaders.
Life-Mapping John Trent (Waterbrook) $14.95 This is a workbook on getting oneÃ•s life going in a healthy direction. Invites evaluation of various sides of life, bringing the journey together, knowing where your going, overcoming roadblocks and detours (get the driving metaphor!) I think this fresh look at the map could be very helpful for many folks.
Relevant Nation: 50 Activists, Artists and Innovators Who Are Changing the World Through Faith Heather Zydek (Relevant) $14.99 This is it, kids: hipster magazine formate with short biographies of, well, activists, artists and innovators. Who are changing the world. Through faith. Very, very cool. That H&M friends like Shane Claiborne and Lauren Winner are in here makes it even better. Check it out!
Forgetting Ourselves on Purpose: Vocation and the Ethics of Ambition Brian Mahan (Jossey-Bass) $19.99 Now this is of an entirely different calibre and tone than the others I’ve noted before. It is beautifully written, deep and rich, thoughtful and exceptional. That Harvard prof Robert Coles wrote the lovely forward speaks volumes. For those who have read, say Listen to Your Life by Parker Palmer or who want to pursue this question of how to be called to a vocation of service, and still want to exhibit healthy ambition. Highly recommended.
Ethical Ambition: Living a Life of Meaning and Worth Derrick Bell (Bloomsbury) $13.95 I have written about this before. Bell is a renowned civil rights activist, legal scholar, and African-American lawyer who gave up several prestigious jobs in order to take a stand for what he thought was right. Gotta love a guy that get’s fired for doing the right thing. He has stood on the right side of things often, and at personal cost, so he is able to tell moving stories about this question of ambition, social change and the call to work for justice. Great!