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Thursday, April 7, 2016

"Be You. Do Good." (Jonathan David Golden)

TITLE: Be You. Do Good.: Having the Guts to Pursue What Makes You Come Alive
AUTHOR: Jonathan David Golden
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2016, (224 pages).

I have heard people telling me that they dread waking up on Monday mornings. Some hated their jobs while others are simply doing it for the money. Rather than merely dragging our feet to work, or to simply try to make ends meet, what happens when a person catches his calling? What would we choose to do if money is no object? What does it take to heighten our boldness to pursue the very things that drive our inner beings? The core message in this book is that once we have discovered our inner selves, the outer actions are simply no-brainers. Our core identity determines our best activities. Better still, what if the very things we are motivated to do are directly or indirectly impacting lives and bringing goodness, goodwill, and even goodies! For we are created in the image of God, and we can surely do good. Lots of good. In this book, we learn of twelve ways in which we can be on our way to doing good. Golden calls them "twelve adventures" that will help us find our calling.

First, we clear the decks by letting go of the myths. The myth of equating our jobs as callings because former is more about money while the latter is beyond the financial considerations. Long task lists, grand positions, and erroneous thinking about the way calling works are dispensed with. Golden also makes a point to clarify that ministry is not necessarily a "higher calling."

Second, Golden points out the need to move away from artificiality toward who we are. It is about identity given to us by God and how this identity is played out in our responses to the things that happen to us. Along the way, we must beware of the six types of temptations: 1) False topics of interesting; 2) heroism; 3) lucrativeness; 4) people-pleasing; 5) covetousness. We must also avoid belittling our true selves by making all kinds of excuses.

Third, we do good by making use of what we already have. Using the Mexican story of a missionary called Vincent, after discerning the work they needed to do, they went forth in faith, trusting that the materials would be provided over time. Vincent had courage to ask, to solicit funds, and to volunteer himself for the work he believed in.

Fourth, we learn to get what we can to reach out to others and invest in relationships, trusting that the material things we need will be provided in due course. Golden even gives us twelve delicious reasons to ask; aka, a dozen donuts!

Fifth, what we want to do is good, but it takes a sensitivity to our inklings that get things going. We can only do so much. As much as we have done our work, sometimes, we need to let our work drop hints on our next steps. Inklings like trying to erase the line between work and play; finding a "tenth man"; and even an Amazon blurb!

Sixth, we learn to pursue what we truly love. We may achieve certain types of successes but still be unhappy. Golden points out the importance of understanding kairos time from chronos time. The latter is about conventional time management and worldly scheduling while the former is about divine moments of inspire living we enter into.

Seven, instead of restricting our calling to self-needs, we need to find a way to serve others. What are the kinds of people we enjoy serving? It takes genuine love for people to draw out the genuine service in us. Eight, we take baby steps of growth. Recalling the story of reconciliation between two people of the Hutu and Tutsi groups, forgiveness happens little by little (bahora bahora). Nine, we cultivate a perseverance to march through life. When this becomes a routine, we are better equipped to let callings determine our steps, rather than difficult circumstances. Ten, we must be careful to follow after God and not forcing ourselves through. When we keep in step, we live in faith. When we are out of step, we are giving in to inner fear. Eleven, we learn to stand up rather than give up. When one discovers true callings, one would persevere without fear. Finally, we are called to stay open to new possibilities. This is about remaining true to our original calling but being sensitive to changing circumstances.

So What?

For many of us, drinking coffee has become a daily habit. For those of us who are passionate about doing good, helping others is a way of life. After inviting people to "Drink Coffee. Do Good," Golden has produced a follow up to draw out the inner person in us. Let me offer three thoughts about this book.

First, it is a very relevant topic of calling versus career. Despite the wealth of material on this topic, many people are still in the dark about the differences. Some even say that that calling is a nicer way to distinguish oneself from other career-seeking candidates. This is not to say that a career is unimportant. In fact, people who jump into mere careers may do their organizations a disservice. For it does not really draw out the true passion of a person. It is like the common saying of "just a job." Golden points it out exactly when he pays attention to calling rather than career. When we focus on calling, we put long-term interests above short-term gains. We think of the bigger picture instead of pinholes. We learn to think out of the box voluntarily. Like Dennis Bakke, we are reminded of the joy at work rather than the chore of working.

Second, it is the identity that drives the activity and not the other way round. In a world where there is a big imbalance between demand and supply; discrepancies between available resources vs existing opportunities, it is very tempting to simply lunge at whatever is available out there. We throw our applications out at every A to Z job postings wanting to just do anything regardless of our passions. In some cases, this is understandable especially for those who have dire financial needs. Having said that, there is a high chance that once the same person finds another job that pays more, that person jumps ship, leaving the organization having to go through the search process all over again. This is probably one of the flaws of our existing marketplace. In a world where companies are constantly cutting costs and laying people off, human resources is fast becoming a dispensable asset. Perhaps, this has got to do with people who are simply participants of a vicious cycle of hiring and firing. Perhaps, people who run organizations with such an attitude have not really discovered what it means to pursue results rather than true identities. That is why organizations lose their way, diversifying into activities that look lucrative but are way outside their true identities.

Third, it takes courage to go against worldly wisdom. Golden's subtitle of the book describes this well: "Having the guts to pursue what makes you." If one has not really understood oneself, what is there to pursue? This is a problem in our education systems. New graduates often do not have the needed skills to handle the modern workplaces. This is one reason why companies pay more to hire experienced staff who can adapt and improvise according to the circumstances. Newbies are relatively more dependent on set methods and the modus operandi of the company. It takes courage to be innovative and to let our ideas drive our activities. If we want to build any structure, be it a house, a shed, a garage, or even a flagpole, we need to build them on solid ground, on a foundation that can withstand the elements of wind, rain, sun, water, and floods. This solid ground is our identity. Our identity will enable us to be bold in doing things according to what we truly believe in. When we do things out of fear, it is only a matter of time before we quit.

Jonathan David Golden is the founder of Land of a Thousand Hills, a million-dollar coffee company that has been providing jobs for 2500 farmers and their families in Rwanda. His website for this book is "Be You. Do Good." He has written this book out of his personal experience to help us embrace the person we truly are, rather than the person that the world likes us to be. The world may like us for what we are not. This increases the level of pretense and superficiality. We must learn to like ourselves for who we truly are. This raises the level of truthfulness and authenticity. If this book can lead us more to be true to ourselves, it will hasten our way toward living well and doing good.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Baker Books and Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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