Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Courage and Calling: Embracing Your God-given Potential

Gordon T. Smith, Courage & Calling: Embracing your God-given Potential, IVP Books, 2011, Revised and expanded, 269 pages. ISBN 978-0-8308-3554-6

Gordon T. Smith mentions three types of calling in his book, Courage & Calling: Embracing your Potential. First, there is the general call to be a Christian. Second, there is a specific call--"a defining purpose or mission . . . . Every individual is called of God to respond through service in the world" (10). Third, is the call to respond to daily duties and responsibilities. Courage and Calling focuses on the second of these calls. What I like about this book is how it shows that our call(s) may change during different transitions in our life. Another focus that was helpful is the author asserting, "we are called to be stewards of the gifts and abilities and opportunities that God gives us" (28). A third point the author makes is the distinction between sacred and secular calling is false. All callings are "inherently and potentially sacred" (44). In addition, he distinguishes between vocation and career. He notes, "We may be called to a particular work that is reflected in a career," but they are not the same thing. "The language of vocation is a reminder that our work is given to us by another, by the God who is our creator" (47). The purpose of the book is to help the reader to achieve his potential in God's service. I have become convinced that our giftedness shows where our calling lies.

Gordon T. Smith has been an academic administrator and missionary in Canada and the Philippines. He is now the president of reSource Leadership International, an agency that fosters excellence in theological education in the developing world. He also teaches part time at Regent College in Canada.

The book includes twelve chapters that can be divided into two parts. The first part focuses on the characteristics of calling. The second focus on elements needed to fulfill our calling. Chapter two provides a theological understanding of work. The authors states that good work is work that agrees with God's purposes for our lives. He shows how work is a means of service which is a religious act. The author assumes that our work "is done in response to the calling of God. God calls us to the work we do, and thus our work becomes something that we do as an offering to God" (43). Chapter two shows how our call should match us with our personality, gifts, and opportunities. He shows how our calling could be either payed or volunteer work. In addition, he provides help to the reader to discover her calling. Our calling will have something to do with how God has made us. Smith believes that our calling is discerned and lived out in community.

I particularly enjoyed chapter four which discussed the different stages of adult life. He dives these stages: From adolescence into early adulthood, early to midadulthood, Midadulthood to our senior years. He shows how our calling might change in different stages. He believes as young adults the major challenge is to take responsibility for their lives. Midlife adults' task is to accept themselves. Senior adults need to let go and bless and offer wisdom.

Courage & Calling is recommended for any reader who is interested in discerning God's will for his/her life. The author has a lot of experience and provides much wisdom on how to achieve our "God-given potential."

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