Three Great Books

March 13, 2013

In the past ten years plus of my life, there are three books that stand out as having an impact on me as I sought God's specific calling for my life (based on Ephesians 2:10).  Here they are.     


Let Your Life Speak, Parker J. Palmer
This is the book that prompted me to go on a self discovery years ago.  I had been in my relationship with Christ about eight years, serving in some awesome ways at church, but I sensed something was missing.  The Bible was speaking to me in new ways about God and my life, and I felt the need to seek out God's specific plans for my life.      

This book is about the author's own journey.  As he tells his story it organically challenges you to take a look at your own life.  Overall, this book is about the desire to live an authentic life, more congruent with how God specifically created you.   

The author has a Quaker background, so if you're offended by someone not believing exactly as you do you may not like it.  But it isn't a book about his religion.  It is a small book (just a little over 100 pages) but has great depth.  It wasn't a book I rushed through and is also one I've gone back and read a few times over.


Your Own Worst Enemy, Breaking the Habit of Adult Under-Achievement, Kenneth W. Christian, PH.D 
I had never called myself an underachiever.  That wasn't even a word in my vocabulary.  But neither was the word achiever.  The truth is, I was an underachiever with great potential.  This book helped me face my own demons - procrastination and fear, and got me on the right track. 

I highly recommend this book if you are someone who starts projects but doesn't finish them.  Or if you have things you want to do but never step out and start.


Courage and Calling, Embracing Your God-Given Potential, Gordon T. Smith
This book is packed with depth and goes into the meaning of calling and the courage it takes to live it out.As the author mentions, we have three callings:  1) The general call which is the invitation to follow Jesus Christ.  2) The specific call which is a vocation (calling) that is unique to each person, an individual mission in the world.  3) The immediate call which are the tasks and duties which God calls each person at the present time.

The focus of this book is the specific call God has in the believer's life, how to discover yours and how to live it out.

Let Fear Help You Accomplish Your Dreams

March 9, 2013

In the past fear has often disguised itself in my life as procrastination and perfectionism preventing me from moving forward.   Thankfully, I've worked through fear but still need to fight it off when it attempts to return. 

But there is something extremely fascinating about fear.  Just as it has the ability to stop a person from moving forward and accomplishing their dreams, it also has the ability to propel someone forward  beyond their dreams.

Several years ago, I saw actor, Will Smith on the Oprah show.  In the interview, he said that even with the much success he had, he feared that it was not enough, that his money would run out and he would be back where he was before his music and acting career began.  This fear made him to want to pursue even greater projects, greater success.    

Hearing Will Smith's words made me think that most super successful people are driven by fear.   But a fear much different than the fear that keeps people from accomplishing their dreams.  This fear drives people towards their dreams because they are afraid of the outcome of not accomplishing their dreams.   In this case fear drives them towards success, not away from it.  

Typically I wouldn't think that underachievers and overachievers have much in common.  But could it be that one of their common denominators is fear?   Only their outcomes are very different.  One is an underachiever because fear holds her back.  The other has attained her dreams because fear has moved her forward.   

When fear drives a person towards their dreams, fear is no longer an enemy.

Sure a successful person can over do it and over work herself thinking she will never accomplish enough.  And that is where she must take a step back and realize that she is out of control and that fear has gripped her.   Just as the person who is gripped by fear so much that she is paralyzed and can't move  towards accomplishing her dreams.  She also must take a step back and realize fear has gripped her.

When I think of some of the most successful well-known people, I wonder if it is fear that has driven them to success.   Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey just to name a few. 

Is it possible that they, like Will Smith, are so fearful  of not attaining their dreams (or whatever it is they want to accomplish) that they are driven towards and beyond success? 

We all have dreams.  Some are buried, having never come to the surface.  Some forgotten.  Some above the surface, ready to be taken to the next step.   At some point in life we make a decision, conscious or not, whether or not to pursue a dream.  And I believe it is fear that in some way helps us make that decision, one way or the other.

I knew a woman who was a family therapist, a career path that did not seem to fit her.   In her personal life, she was on edge and had difficulty managing her emotional life even though she counseled others,  trying to help them manage theirs.  I noticed how artistic she was when she decided to design greeting cards.  She was gifted with artistic talent and was a much different person when creating art.   I asked her about it, and to my surprise she told me that when she was much younger she applied to an art school, and on the day of her entrance interview she was so fearful that she didn't go.  Fear stopped her from fulfilling her dream to attend art school and a career in art.  She went to college later in life, getting the counseling degree. 

I'm a late bloomer myself and hadn't yet discovered my dreams and calling when I'd heard this woman's story.  Hearing how she'd abandoned her dream encouraged me to seek God in what I was called to do.  I would say that this was fear working positively in me.  I was afraid I'd too end up miserable if I didn't pursue my dreams.

Fear can have a positive or negative function.  If it makes us get off the couch and take steps towards our dreams it's no longer a negative force. 

What role is fear playing in your life?  Is it keeping you from fulfilling your dreams or is it pushing you to fulfill your dreams?