Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling The Central Purpose of Your Life

Os Guinness, The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life. W Publishing Group, 2003. Originally published 1998. 292 pages. ISBN: 0849944376

What is our purpose here on earth? Os Guinness seeks to answer that question in this book. The Call is made up of twenty-six chapters. The author's goal is that a chapter be read each day. This is how I read it and thought it worked well reading it this way. It works well with morning devotion. This edition of the book includes a study guide at the back of the book.

Os Guinness is the author of many books including Long Journey Home and Time for Truth. In addition, he co-edited Invitation to the Classics. He is a popular speaker. He was born in China and graduated from Oxford University.

The Call describes the call in many different ways. Each chapter includes a story of someone who demonstrated the particular attribute of that chapter. Chapter one seeks to answer the questions: "Who am I? What is the meaning of life (1)?" Chapter two tells how to be a true seeker. In chapter three, Guinness asserts, "The notion of calling, or vocation, is vital to each of us because it touches on the modern search for a basis for individual identity and an understanding of humanness itself" (20). In chapter four Guinness states, "Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion, dynamism, and direction lived out as a response to his summons and service" (29). The author says our primary call is to Jesus Christ. Our secondary calling is to use our gifts to serve God and our neighbor.

Other chapters encourage to strive for excellence, be who we are, live for God's glory, be responsible, cautions against vices like pride, envy, love of money, sloth, secularization, relativism, and to be focused on God's plan for our life. In addition, there are chapters on careers, ministry versus secular occupation, and how calling is related to all the spheres of our life. The last chapter discusses finishing well. Guinness asserts, "Calling is central to the challenge and privilege of finishing well in life" (227). He uses the example of Wilberforce on finishing well.

Guinness thinks the terms calling and vocation should be synonymous. This is a problem since modern use of the word vocation is for some type of trade. The author claims that we are truly only who we are when we follow God's call. God gives us gifts to serve others. We find true fulfillment in serving others. The author thinks giftedness must be combined with stewardship.

Guinness asserts that there is both corporate and individual calling. Stewardship accepts both callings. This will keep us from the danger of excessive individualism. William Perkins, Puritan thinker, thought "every calling must be fitted to the man and every man fitted to the calling" (48). Guinness believes that to "find work that fits perfectly our calling is not a right, but a blessing" (50). The author thinks the reason for this is the fall: "If there had been no fall, all our work would naturally and fully expressed who we are and exercised the gifts we have been given" (50). If we have the opportunity we should seek employment that will express who we are and exercise the gifts we have been given. If we have these things we should be truly thankful.

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