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The White Shirt: Find Your Peaceful and Life-giving Career At Any Stage of Life Paperback – September 18, 2018
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Michael Tate has taken the classic analogy story approach to non-fiction to new heights with a book that is a fun, fast read while delivering practical, hands on insights into who we are.
I'm a "purpose junkie" and read everything I can get my hands on about finding one's calling or discovering one's purpose. The White Shirt delivers.
Get it. Read it. Study it. Apply it.
You won't be disappointed.
In this book, we meet four young men about to step over into adulthood as they await the announcement of the vocations chosen for them by their parents. Although they have very different personalities, this group of best friends, Cyrus, Aaron, Gage, and Bahram, obediently begin their training as astronomers, one of the most sought-after positions in the kingdom. In spite of the riches and prestige that his new career offers, Cyrus is unhappy and feels like he is a misfit for the assignment.
Several months later, even though he is pressured by his friends to stay with them and to follow tradition and parental direction, Cyrus runs away. Knowing he has embarrassed his family and angered the political powers in the kingdom, Cyrus stays hidden far away in a cave in the forest.
After a time, a series of three visitors come upon the cave. Cyrus is hospitable to each of them and eventually confides in each that he has run away because he was unhappy in his appointed position. Each visitor helps Cyrus to recognize the influences on his career choice and how to refocus his decision along three key questions: Who am I? Where is my place in the world? and How do I find it? Finding these answers will lead him to find the career he was meant to pursue.
The third visitor, Darrius, guides Cyrus into an understanding of the last question, How do I find it? At Darrius's invitation, Cyrus leaves the cave and journeys with him to Jerusalem, where, armed not with a resume but with his new self-understanding, he will look for meaningful work. As Darrius tells him, "When you are guided by your reason for being, you make better decisions that lead to a peaceful career." But this search is not an easy one. There are temptations for shady shortcuts to fast riches or shirking his task altogether and letting someone else find him a job.
The book is not a quick 1-2-3, This Is What You Do. It is a compelling narrative that challenges the reader to evaluate his own life choices and the mission he has chosen. As our workplace has evolved from the landscape of agriculture and big factories to a high-tech one of outsourcing and freelance, our approach to finding meaningful work also has to change. The author suggests that we need to circle back to our ancient roots where, instead of building a resume for a particular position, the job seeker focuses on his desires and skills and "letting his advisors create the title or job name that fits what he did."
Following Cyrus's journey, we understand how this approach works and allows for more meaningful work. When we consider the hours and years we devote to the workplace, a search for meaning there should be a priority. The author offers a complementary website, whiteshirtbook.com, where he explains the approach in his book trailer and provides resources to assist the reader's journey.
As we follow Cyrus on his journey, the author shows us step-by-step how to search deep inside ourselves to find out what kind of life will give us peace. He suggests finding a search partner who also wants to find his self-fulfilling path and work together, encouraging each other and serving as a soundboard for each other's ideas. The last section of the book prescribes a format for doing that. But, if a partner is not available, the book is sufficient to guide the read on his own path to discovery.
This book would make a wonderful gift for a college student; I would suggest the Christmas of his sophomore year when he has begun seriously to narrow down his major, or at graduation when he is suddenly facing the "real" world. But it would also be helpful for any adult unhappy with his present vocation and wishing a change. That includes retirees who finally have the time to pursue their own dreams. With its Biblical references, the book would also make a good topic for a church's small-group study, especially for the college and young adult age.
"The White Shirt" also makes for a delightful short read that could make for some long, deep, and invigorating conversations with your friends.
Like Cyrus, we could find the answer to "What would it be like to know that you're right where you need to be, pursuing the career that you're meant to pursue?"