24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Gordon MacDonald, a sixty-something pastor, offers a lifetime of wisdom in "A Resilient Life." Freely admitting that he was born with a "quitters gene," he credits the influence of his high school cross-country and track coach with helping him onto the road of resilience. MacDonald defines "resilience" as the "toughened condition of both the body and the mind" and goes on to describe many characteristics of a resilient person.
Perhaps most importantly, MacDonald offers hope. He is a firm believer that the second half of life is when God often has people make their greatest contributions, and that we are called to serve well into our senior years. Even if one's life to date has been less than ideal, "the Christian worships a God who can (and does) take the life of any person, turn it inside out, and use it to build a piece of His kingdom."
MacDonald emphasizes that building resilience is a daily pursuit. It requires a regular self-assessment, the discipline of spiritual pursuits, and making the most of one's talents. It also takes place within whatever stage of life we find ourselves in at the moment. One of the most valuable sections of "A Resilient Life" is Chapter Seven: "Resilient People Foresee the Great Questions of Life's Passage." MacDonald interviewed several senior citizens (including people older than himself) to get a full picture of the big questions of life at each age. He comes up with a fairly comprehensive list. These questions shape our lives and the answers we come up with help make us who we are at every stage.
Another important chapter is Chapter 9: "Resilient People Listen for a Call from God." A call "is an acknowledgment that one is accountable to God for the discharge of his life's duties." God calls each of us to fulfill our role in His plan. He gives us the tools we need to make our own particular contribution to the world. It can be difficult to know what God is asking of us, but when we are on that right road, it will generally be confirmed by others. There are also the results. When we answer the call, we help to make the world a better place. MacDonald also emphasizes that not everyone is called to do something that will attract attention. "Men and women have obeyed God's call and become martyrs. Others have undertaken unspeakably difficult and discouraging tasks and barely survived. Many more have lived the relatively common life between home and job. They hammer nails, sell widgets, create software or fix things. But in the process they make a difference in the existence of the people around them. And they, too, are called."
"A Resilient Life" offers an in-depth look at the characteristics that make up a resilient person, a person ready to be faithful for the long haul. While we are all works in progress and very few will possess all of these characteristics, this book gives us something to strive for.
Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur is editor of The Spiritual Woman Newsletter [...]
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2005
Gordon MacDonald does it again with his latest "A Resilient Life". The heart of the book is the powerful chapter on practicing repentance followed by many practical insights on staying in the faith race over the long haul. MacDonald writes as a guy who has been there -- a pastor once fallen - now restored. The power of his words is intensified by the witness of MacDonald's life. God used this book to speak powerfully to me -- what more can I say? Highly recommended.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2005
When I first read this book, I was exhausted and decipated. No matter how important my goals were, I simply wanted to drop everything and jump on a boat to a nomad island.
But this book taught me an important word. RESILIENCE! How foolish I was to think that these times of difficulty are reasons for me to give up~!
Now I know that difficulty is an opportunity for me to reach a new height~! I will now run forward, instead of walking, to make sure that I am resilient enough to be all that I am made to be in Christ our Lord.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2011
There is no debate that Gordon MacDonald is an accomplished writer of Christian books, and his acclaim is well-deserved. His writing is extremely readable, his ideas are accessible, and his stories are engaging. This book was well over 200 pages, but it flowed quickly and seamlessly. And having really appreciated some of his other stuff that I've read, I had high hopes for this book. Unfortunately, I was rather disappointed.
The main problem with "A Resilient Life" is that MacDonald tries to pack far too much content into one book. It's as if he tried to smash everything he's ever learned about Christian living into the book, whether or not it really had anything to do with "resilience," the supposed theme of the book. There are literally 28 chapters, each with a different thing that I need to do to live a resilient life. Yes, 28 different things that I need to do! The old axiom, "less is more," has never been more true. I wish that MacDonald had sliced and diced most of those chapters, settled on a few of the absolute keys, and spent more time with each of them. Instead, we have a collection of a million perfectly legitimate and potentially helpful suggestions and ideas, but they're just lost in the chaos of information overload.
To be sure, "A Resilient Life" is typical MacDonald fare, very interesting and easy to read. The through-line for the entire book is the discipline that he learned from his high school track coach. He weaves those running lessons from point to point, to provide a reference point for his many ideas. But, again, I found the book to lack focus and specificity that would have made it decidedly more memorable and impacting. Overall, it's a decent book, but it just wasn't what it could have been if he hadn't tried to cover so much ground and instead targeted his reflections on fewer topics.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2007
The writing is rich and deep yet very simple to read and digest. I wish I would have read this years ago. There are gems on every page and I cant wait to get back into the book. I will be buying this book for both my kids and their spouses and using what I learn in my mentoring.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2010
I first discovered Gordon MacDonald when I read his excellent book, Ordering Your Private World (which I highly recommend) and have since had the pleasure of meeting him professionally.
A Resilient Life (You Can Move Ahead No Matter What) is a wise and orderly treatment of resilience, which MacDonald describes as "getting stronger as I get older."
MacDonald returns often throughout the book to a central metaphor--the strategies for stamina bequeathed to him by his high school track coach--to show readers how to "finish what you start, persevere in adversity, push yourself to your potential." The book is divided into five sections:
Resilient People Are Committed to Finishing Strong
Resilient People Run Inspired by a Big-Picture View of Life
Resilient People Run Free of the Weight of the Past
Resilient PeopleTrain to Go the Distance
Resilient People Run in the Company of a "Happy Few"
Each section is divided further into short chapters.
One of my favorite parts of the book was this, from the chapter entitled, "Resilient People Open Their Hearts to the Presence of God": "A haunting memory sticks from years and years ago, when news came of a young husband in our congregation who was dead by an errant shot during a hunting trip. It was my lot as the family's pastor to rush to the home and sit with the family. As I drove away from my home, I found myself asking, "And what shall I give this family? My spiritual resources are dry. All I have is words, but my spirit seems empty." It was a most miserable moment, a scary one for a youthful pastor. And one of those times when I determined I would never again be caught with an empty soul when others needed spiritual resource.
"I came to see that I owed my congregation a filled-up soul. They needed this far more from me than all the church programs and visions I could put before them. Whether they encountered me in the pulpit or on the streets of our community during the week, they needed to know that if (perish the thought) there was only one human being in their world who had some experience in the presence of God, I would be that man."
A Resilient Life is more than the sum of its parts. It is a training program for men and women who want to get stronger as they get older.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2010
We all face trials and troubles. The most successful, happiest people in the world are therefore not ones who escape trouble but know how to bounce back from a traumatic event ... death in the family, loss of a job, sickness, disappointment. Gordon's book is a permanent addition to my library and on my Top 10 list.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2010
I bought and read this book four years ago and it's one I go back to frequently. As one who isn't all that resilient by nature, I find great motivation and encouragement from Gordon MacDonald's writings. Each chapter is full of wisdom. Resilience isn't something you are necessarily born with. It's more of a discipline which is diligently built with intentional determination and work. His own experiences add to the great truths within these pages. Buy it!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
"Keeps a licking but keeps on ticking" is the iconic advertising tag line of Timex watches. It can also reflect the virtue of resiliency. As a blueprint for building spiritual resiliency in your life, we have Gordon MacDonald's book, A Resilient Life. A new book it isn't, but rather one I "discovered" after reading his earlier work, Ordering Your Private World and joining a small group study focused on the book at my church.
In preparing for that class, I tracked down the author in New Hampshire, phoned him and asked if any small group study guides, DVD's or resources were available for Ordering Your Private World. He replied that there weren't but then, almost as an afterthought, recommended A Resilient Life, depicting it as a bit of a sequel to Ordering Your Private World. That proved to be a good tip.
In profiling the habits of resilient people, MacDonald spotlights five qualities:
* A Commitment to Finishing Strong
* Being Inspired by a Big Picture View of Life
* Running Free of the Weight of the Past
* Training to Go the Distance
* Running in the Company of "A Happy Few"
As a high schooler, MacDonald ran distance rack and cross-country. Pivotal in his athletic - and character - formation was his Coach, Marvin W. Goldberg. MacDonald uses distance running as a metaphor for running the race of life and reflects on life lessons imparted by his demanding yet principled mentor. MacDonald needed resilience not only as a distance runner in his youth. In his adult life, his world was rocked by a self-inflicted "sinkhole experience" which left him foundering. Forged in that personal and spiritual crisis,
MacDonald has distilled life lessons in a style that does not "preach" to the reader but speaks to us from the perspective of one who has drunk deeply from the bitter cup of brokenness.
In martial arts there is a proverb, "Fall down seven times -- get up eight." As life unfolds, "Stuff Happens," to paraphrase a popular bumper sticker. Like the proverbial Timex watch, we "take a licking." To help us keep on ticking when life's inevitable curveballs close in, Gordon MacDonald's Resilient Life offers us tips on how to live one.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2015
From the pen of Gordon MacDonald comes another important book which is essential reading for anyone who wants to finish well and strong. Because the race of life is a race of distance, resilience is vital and needful. From his study of Christ-followers, including biblical ones, and what he learnt from his running coach Marvin W. Goldberg, MacDonald observes that Christians who are resilient possess these five spiritual qualities: (a) they are committed to finishing strong, (b) they run inspired by a big-picture view of life, (c) they run free of the weight of the past, (d) they run confidently, trained to go the distance, and, (e) they run in the company of a “happy few.” These qualities, which form the book’s five main sections, are explained and illustrated over 28 chapters. Every chapter contains gems of insights and principles to help the reader cultivate these resilience-qualities. Noteworthy is the chapter where MacDonald talks about how resilient people practice repentance, with particular reference to his own moral failure and how he repented and bounced back. Equally helpful is the final chapter in which MacDonald argues that we need a few people who will coach us, stretch our minds, listen to and encourage our dreams, protect us, share our tears, rebuke us, play with us, and seek after God with us. Resilient people are not perfect people; they may and do fall and fail. But because they possess the five resilience-qualities, they get up and move ahead for the finishing line of life’s race. Buy this book, read it and cultivate the qualities which characterize resilient people.