In world where people are tending to withdraw from hope and generosity into shrunken worlds of fear and safety, I sometimes think that most important thing any of us can do is invest our hours, days, and years in activities that are aligned with who we’re created to be. I say this because lives lived that proactively and intentionally have become rare enough that they shine as light, inspiring hope in world increasingly defined by pessimism and fear.
If finding our destiny is one of the best things we can do, then reading, “The Art of Work” by Jeff Goins is one of the best books we can read. Jeff’s taken the subject that people of faith typically name “calling” and written a book about it; how to find it, and what it takes to develop it so that it moves from latent talent to an actual life purpose that blesses other people.
I love the chronological and linear “preparation”, “action”, and “completion” structure of the book because I can tell you, as a guy pushing sixty, that he has things in just the right order. I can also say that because his book covers all three sections of our life work, it’s a good read no matter where you are on the spectrum.
Especially valuable though, and supremely important, is the early chapter about listening to your life. This is where the author challenges the reader to listen to the longings of your own heart, finding both what gives you joy and what is affirmed by other people, and investing heavily in whatever it is that rises to the surface.
As one who studied both architecture and music composition before finding my calling as a pastor, Bible teacher and writer, I can tell you that learning how to listen to your life is foundational wisdom. Without it, you’re at risk of wandering aimlessly your entire life, never finding the calling, vocation, and work that is both life giving for you and for those blessed by your gifts.
Knowing what you’re meant to be and do isn’t enough however. There must be intentionality in developing your gifts and the wisdom offered to help achieve this is immensely practical in this book, covering subjects such as practice, apprenticeship, and how your continued commitment to the development of your craft and skills will, over time, open doors of opportunity. The book is highly readable, offering real life stories all along the way to illustrate the principles being taught.
Paul, the great Apostle of the Bible, tells his protege Timothy to not neglect the “gift which was bestowed on you” and goes on to say that he should “persevere in these things”. Jeff is saying the same thing in differently language, and far from being restrictive, the exhortation is liberating, because by saying yes to our calling, we’re liberated to say no to the continual temptation of distractions and diversions that offer temporary excitement, but little meaning.
Countless people spend their entire lives looking for the perfect context and work situation, all the while neglecting to develop the gifts that are lying latent within. The treadmill of dissatisfaction that is experienced by those who live this way is exhausting and demoralizing. Far better to find your one true thing, and get on with it.
If that’s your interest, then Jeff’s your man, and “The Art of Work” is your book.
(I was given a free copy for review, with total freedom to endorse or critique the book as I have seen fit)