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February 21, 2019

When I began my doctoral studies on vocation over 15 years ago, there was not all that much written on the topic. It was an overlooked doctrine with a rich history in the church that was just waiting to be rediscovered once again. I remember clearly the very strong sense I had that a big wave was coming, and now there is so much written on the theme of vocation that it is hard to know where to begin. Of the dozens and dozens of books on vocation on my shelves here are some that I think are the most accessible and helpful.

Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer. This is the one that shows up on everyone’s list. It’s brief, but meditative and meant to be slow, thoughtful reading. At some point, this is the book you have to read!

Consider Your Calling and Courage and Calling: Embracing Your God-Given Potential, both by Gordon Smith. I really like the way Gordon Smith writes. He sounds just like a mentor who is looking over your shoulder. He is also very comprehensive. The first book is built around six key questions that should be asked as one seeks to discern calling. The second book is a more developed and comprehensive book. Any one of these would be very worthwhile.

Every Job A Parable by John Van Sloten. No other book does quite what this one does. The author has been looking with spiritual eyes at the jobs people do and seeing God in them for a long time. He mentions dozens and dozens of jobs and has the greatest insights to offer. Something in this book is like what you do. Check it out.

Third Calling: What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life? by Richard and Leona Bergstrom. Our earliest working years constitute our First Calling. Somewhere in the middle years of life we hit our stride and move into our Second Calling. When retirement looms or major life-transitions, we move into new, uncharted terrain. We should view that as our Third Calling. I have not completed this book myself, but it looks like the best of the bunch that address this topic.

Kingdom Calling by Amy Sherman. This author is associated with Tim Keller and brings a rich theological perspective to the topic. Very helpful

Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good by Steven Garber. I keep wanting to read this but have not yet been able to do so. Still, it shows up on everyone’s list and I know Garber’s reputation. Sure to be thoughtful and full of insights.

Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller with Katherine Leary Alsdorf. Keller, of course, has a special ability to make the complex clear and this book is no exception. Probably one of the best places to begin.

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness. This is the Great Granddaddy of them all when it comes to vocation. Guinness is a prolific author of many books, yet considers this his most important. I know many people who believe it is the most helpful thing they have read.


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