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The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life Paperback – October 7, 2003
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About the Author
Os Guinness is an author and speaker living in the Washington, D.C., area. Born in China during World War II, Guinness left in 1951, after the Chinese Revolution. A graduate of the University of London and Oxford, Guinness is a former visiting fellow of the Brookings Institution. He has written or edited more than twenty books, including The Call, Invitation to the Classics, and Long Journey Home. A frequent speaker and seminar leader at political and business conferences in the United States, Europe, and Asia, Guinness has lectured at many universities, including Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, and Stanford, and has often spoken on Capitol Hill.
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This was a life changing book for me. At the time I first read it, I was needing a new way of thinking about my life. Reading it caused me to take an inventory of my talents, dreams, skills, knowledge and attitudes. Having done that, I lined those beside my vocation and favorite pastimes. That review. mixed with the revelation that Guinness provides brought myself into focus in a way I had never seen myself.I began to appreciate my work as a outgrowth of who I am rather than as just what I did to make money. I began to see my interests and talents away from work in a similar way. Guinness's ideas gave a kind of legitimacy to what I am and like to do because I was permitted to see it all from the point of view of calling.
There are certainly those with special gifts, whether they are writers, musicians, mathemeticians, scientists, or politicians. Because I am not one of those, I never thought of myself as special or unique or particularly important in the affairs of men. Yet, calling is that which brings purpose and direction for life and Guinness helped me see that. Even one with the meager talents and gifts that I have can make a difference in the world when what I have is married to the call that God places on every life, no matter who and where they are.
Guinness starts with the premise that "there is no calling without a caller". Being that I am a Christian, I am happy to start with that beginning and already have a relationship with the Caller. But what Guinness adds to this is all that goes with that call. The call legitimizes your gifts and efforts when they are married to his purpose. Here is a tiny example. As a teenager when I was learning to play guitar and sing a bit, I had the dream that many do of playing in a rock back, having the curtain drawn back, a packed house cheering for the show to begin and playing the first notes of the music. That dream eventually came to be, but in a different form. Instead of playing in a rock band for a thousand screaming teenagers, I played in a 20-piece banjo band for a thousand blue haired ladies and gentlemen. It was no less exciting for me and represented the fulfillment of a dream. I could see how God had planted in me a desire to perform and bring pleasure to people at a certain time of life. That happened to me when I was 25 years old. At the age of 61, I am doing it still today. It is one of the ways that God gifted me and called me into his service. I am not a professional and make no money from it. I do it because it is in me to do. That is what calling is. I will always be grateful to Os Guinness and "The Call" for opening this door of purpose and understanding for me.
I am a 26 year old millennial guy seeking to live a meaningful and dedicated life for the glory of God. The Call was commended to me as a great book uncovering the true nature of calling and rescuing it from the captivity of specificity and exactitude. The commendation was abundantly fulfilled.
The Call has proven to be a rich encouragement and exhortation relevant for all believers. Os Guinness relentlessly and exhaustively exhorts the believer to honor his or her call to live as a child of the King in every way possible. Having never read any works by Os Guinness I was not sure what to expect. I was very pleasantly surprised but not only extremely high readability but also a comprehensive enrichment fueled by his obviously deep cultural and historical knowledge. I would venture to say a good quarter (if not third) of this book is quotation from such greats of the faith as GK Chesterson, Dorothy Sayers, Luther, Calvin, Bonhoeffer, and a very wide range of cultural and historical figures.
Having finished the last fifth of the book in one sitting I find myself both emboldened and empowered by the broad context for fulfilling our call that Guinness puts forth. And by holding up so many examples from the halls of faith, Guinness encourages us that the type of calling he his suggesting has been lived over and over again in history, and many others have seen calling in much the same way he does. This is certainly no new or novel idea, but a rich and fulfilling distillation of Christian thought and life.
Do not expect an exposition so much as a journey through the halls of calling's house. If you're expecting a "how to" on perceiving and fulfilling your specific occupational calling or job you will be disappointed, but this book is all the more for you. That is what I came to it for, but I have walked away with a far greater appreciation for the true calling of our God beyond specific occupational endeavors.
The Call is almost certainly going to become an annual staple for me. I highly recommend it for believers in any stage of life.