I recently wrote about themes of calling and vocation in Chaim Potok’s My Name Is Asher Lev. This got me to thinking:
What are the best books on calling and vocation?
Here are a few that occur to me. What books would you add to the list? These below are all Christian nonfiction books, but novels, secular guides, poetry, anything, is welcome as suggestions.
Os Guinness, The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life One of the classics on calling and vocation, this book is made up of many short, reflective chapters that make for good meditative reading. It also features a passage that I’ve quoted more than probably anything else I’ve read:
Our primary calling as followers of Christ is by him, to him, and for him. First and foremost we are called to Someone (God), not to something (such as motherhood, politics, or teaching) or to somewhere (such as the inner city or Outer Mongolia).
Our secondary calling, considering who God is as sovereign, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him. We can therefore properly say as a matter of secondary calling that we are called to homemaking or to the practice of law or to art history. But these and other things are always the secondary, never the primary calling. They are “callings” rather than the “calling.” They are our personal answer to God’s address, our response to God’s summons. Secondary callings matter, but only because the primary calling matters most. (The Call, p. 31)
Gordon Smith, Courage and Calling: Embracing Your God-Given Potential. If Guinness is reflective, I would characterize Smith as analytical. I go to Smith when I’m looking for a good definition for a concept, or a discussion of some specific issue, such as matching your personal calling with the corporate calling of an organization or business.
Andy Crouch, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling. The two books above deal directly with an individual’s personal calling. Crouch’s, in contrast, deals the questions of human calling in general: Why do we work? How do we approach culture? Do the artifacts of human culture have eternal value? Editor’s note (12/7/2013, 6:18 pm): Click here for a post focused on Culture Making.
Steven Garber, The Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior. Someone — I think it was David McNeill — gave me this book when I transitioning from college to career, and it had a profound influence over my life for many years. Garber explores the issue of living a consistent life, in which our actions, decisions, career, etc., match what we say we believe. This integrity is central to understanding calling and vocation.
Those are a few of my choices. What books would you add? Please add your recommendations to the comments.