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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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Top Customer Reviews
Admittingly, the book is profound. However, when read devotionally ( a chapter a day like "My Utmost For His Highest"), the reader is encouraged to think about what was read and how to apply the chapter to everyday living.
I personally thought some of Guinness' better points were:
1. Be devoted to Jesus instead of your service to Jesus.
2. Be inner-directed by God than other-directed by the
opinions of others (what God thinks matters most!).
3. God calls us to a life of faith.
4. Deliberate spend time in solitude with God.
5. Glorify God in the ordinary things of life.
6. A sense of calling keeps us focused when modern-day
life threatens to tear us apart.
7. Taking God's call seriously means we will pay the
price of being abused and treated as fools by those
who do not understand.
All in all, an excellent read! To use the old saying: "be ready to put on your thinking cap" when reading this one!
Guinness states his purpose in writing with these words:
“This book is for all who long to find and fulfill the purpose of their lives.” (4)
Interestingly, even before setting out this mission statement, Guinness argues that life’s purposes are summarized in three perspectives: (1) the Eastern answer—forget it and forget yourself; (2) the secular answer—life has no meaning so invent one yourself; and (3) the biblical answer—we are created in the image of God and he calls us to himself. (viii-ix). While Guinness displays an encyclopedic understanding of all three of these perspectives, the center of the onion that he peels in this book is God’s call.
Guinness’ encyclopedic understanding is possibly an inherited trait. Guinness recounts the story of one eighteen year-old Jane Lucretia D’Esterre, Guinness’ great-great-grandmother, who distraught over the death of her husband in 1815 in a duel, gave up the thought of suicide through drowning as she stood on a riverbank because she noticed the son of a neighbor plowing a field. “Meticulous, absorbed, skilled, he displayed such as pride in his work that the newly turned furrows looked as finely execute as the paint strokes on an artist’s canvas.” (184) Mind you, this young man plowed with a team of horses that have a mind of their own!
While I might attribute this distraction as a divine intervention, Guinness describes the incident as demonstrating how: “calling transforms life so that even the commonplace and menial are invested with the splendor of the ordinary.” (185) Soon after this incident, his eagle-eyed, great-great-grandmother came to faith, suggesting that she also saw God’s in this incident. Much like God drew the Prophet Jeremiah to the work of a potter (Jer 18:1-6), this young woman saw God’s hand in a plowman’s furrows.
The onion peeling characteristic of Guinness’ prose arise because he examines aspects of God’s call through narratives of famous people. One example that, as a recovering economist, I will not soon forget begins with story of Arthur Burns, a former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve. Burns began attending an informal White House prayer group, where he was routinely passed over in leading prayer because he was known to be Jewish. When finally asked to pray, he prayed:
“Lord, I pray that you would bring Jews to know Jesus Christ. I pray that you would bring Muslims to know Jesus Christ. Finally, Lord, I pray that you would bring Christians to know Jesus Christ, Amen.” (101)
Guinness sees at least three lessons to be learned from this incident:
1. “…calling by its very nature reminds us that we are only followers of Christ when in fact we follow Jesus…
2. calling reminds us that to be ‘a follower of the Way’ is to see life as a journey, which, while we are still alive on the earth, is an incomplete journey that cannot be finally assessed…
3. calling reminds us that, recognizing all the different stages people are at, there are many more who are followers of Jesus and on the Way than we realize.” (105-108)
These are, in fact, tough lessons that, in my experience, need to be learned over and over again, and that, reflecting back on Guinness, bear the markings of both patient scholarship and personal travel.
As someone working on the third edit of a memoir devoted that task, I found myself spending more time in refreshing my memory of this book than I would spend reading other texts. For me, Guinness’ tying of the call to finishing well was especially meaningful.(227) He makes three points:
1. “…calling is the spur that keeps us journeying purposefully…
2. calling helps us to finish well because it prevents us from confusing the termination of our occupations with the termination of our vocation…
3. calling helps us finish well because it encourages us to leave the entire outcome of our lives to God.” (228-231)
Os Guinness’ book, The Call, is a fine read for any Christian, but especially those struggling with the meaning of their own call. Be prepared to be enthralled.
There are 26 chapters in this book, and the author recommends reading a chapter a day. Of course, if you choose to read more than a chapter a day, you can get a little overload on the thinking process. And this is a Thinking Book. The second half of each chapter then applies the truths to which Mr. Guinness is referring to the Christian's walk with Christ. He refers to those who follow Christ not as "Christian," but "Followers of the Way," which I found to be incredibly refreshing.
Again, this is not easy reading, but overall, he credits many people with his premise, which is also biblical, and his references to Oswald Chambers' work is also refreshing. There is a study guide in the back to follow each chapter, and of special interest is the "Entrepreneurs of Life" at the very end of the book.
A splendid read, indeed, and well worth recommending at the highest level!!