It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Center Street (January 5, 2009)
LARRY JULIAN is a successful consultant and speaker and the author of the nationally acclaimed business book God Is My CEO: Following God’s Principles in a Bottom-Line World. As a business coach, Larry’s mission is to help people integrate their work and faith to be the successes God intended. He has trained thousands of business leaders, and his clients have included 3M, AT&T, General Mills, Honeywell, the Mayo Clinic, Qwest, and hundreds of other large and small organizations. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Visit the author’s website.
List Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Center Street (January 5, 2009)
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
The Gift of Your Unique Calling
How Can I Integrate My Career with My Calling?
I quietly watched as my two-year-old son worked on a wood puzzle. His body and jaw tensed as he tried to fit a piece the shape of a duck into a hole the shape of a sheep. The harder he tried, the more frustrated he became. Succumbing to frustration (as two-year-olds tend to do), he hurled the puzzle into the air and fell into a heap on the floor.
As adults, how often is this scenario played out in our careers? The Conference Board, a leading market information company, reported in 2005 that only 50 percent of workers are satisfied with their jobs and a mere 14 percent identified themselves as very satisfied. In addition, the report states that two out of three employees don’t identify with or feel motivated to drive toward their employer’s business goals and objectives.
Could our dissatisfaction stem at least in part from working in jobs whose skill requirements don’t match our unique gifts? Are we trying to force our God-given and God-inspired uniqueness to conform to a purpose He never intended for us to have? In the end, are we ducks trying to be sheep?
Solution: Fulfill Your Unique Call with Your Unique Giftedness
For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do. —Ephesians 2:10
In the Halftime Report, Ivey Harrington Beckman tells the story of a middle-aged woman’s journey to making her unique calling her life’s work:
The first time Rosalind Cook sank her hands into a mound of clay at the age of 26, her soul said, “Ah ha!” “Shaping that clay into a meaningful form was like finding a piece of myself that had been missing for a long, long time,” she explains. “I realized I was trying to be who other people thought I should be, and I wasn’t looking at how God created me. I reflected on what really gave me joy in life—and that was sculpting. But I still felt a bit guilty about loving it so much, until a friend watched as I pulled out my clay one evening. I cried as I said: ‘I don’t understand how I can have so much joy in doing this! Where’s the significance? This isn’t saving souls. This isn’t doing anything for anyone. It just feeds me and brings me joy.’
“And he replied, ‘Rosalind, you are made in God’s image. He’s your Creator and when you use the gifts of His image that gives Him pleasure.’”
When we discover our God-given design and calling and use those gifts in service to Him, we experience genuine joy and satisfaction. Giftedness is one of the clues God gives you toward discovering your calling. Exploring your giftedness helps provide clarity to your unique calling—even in the midst of your uncertainty.
Discover the Gift of Your Unique Calling
In response to the growing number of workers looking for meaning, satisfaction, and motivation, self-help books continue to flood the market. We’ve become a consumer-driven society looking to fulfill our needs and purpose in life. We even see God as a means to serve us. Many a prayer has started with the words Dear God, please help me get this job. . . . It’s about our satisfaction, our career, and our calling.
There’s an inherent flaw in the consumer-driven approach. God created us to be catalysts, not consumers. We’ve been uniquely designed by God to serve His purpose, not ours. It’s in discovering our true calling and then using our gifts in service to God that we experience the genuine joy and satisfaction we were seeking all along. It may be helpful to examine how our calling became consumer driven in the first place. Part of the blame rests in how a business views its employees. When it comes to finding the right person for the job, the business world often has it completely backwards. In my first book, God Is My CEO, I interviewed Horst Schulze, then CEO of Ritz-Carlton Hotels. Among his thought-provoking insights was this gem: “Our industry is notorious for getting bodies to fulfill a function—to do things. I think this is irresponsible and, in a sense, immoral.
People should not just fulfill a function. They have the right to be a part of something.” Rather than finding the right person with the right gifts for the right job, many organizations fall into the trap of finding bodies to fill positions. Most of the responsibility, however, rests on us. Perhaps we seek a specific career for the wrong reasons, such as fulfilling a parent’s wish, earning a target salary, meeting an organization’s expectations, or trying to achieve a societal ideal. Perhaps we simply have no idea how we’re uniquely gifted. Or maybe we’ve focused all our energy into a career but haven’t taken time to discover our calling. In the end, we pursue everything but our true calling. Our jobs provide a paycheck but no sense of purpose; we make money but don’t make a difference. Dissatisfaction descends upon us. We fall into a continual cycle of trying to fit into someone else’s requirements rather than pursue our God-given call.
Rosalind Cook, the clay sculptor, was a teacher of the blind before becoming a stay-at-home mother of three, serving on school boards and committees. Her life was busy, and for years, sculpting terra-cotta clay was simply a hobby. And then came the day her friend explained that she brought God pleasure by using the gifts God had given her:
“From that day on I gave myself permission to sculpt. And I finally connected with its true significance in my life. I was 41. I cast my first bronze at 42 and was able to sell it almost immediately.” In the Halftime Report, an online publication of Halftime (an organization that teaches how those in the “halftime” of their lives can look back on what they’ve accomplished, understand who they are, and then redirect their time and talent for an even more purposeful second half ), Ivey Beckman tells us:
Today, Rosalind’s prized bronze sculptures, which range from happy, playful children to full-size images of Jesus, grace galleries throughout the world. She has donated many pieces to charities, raising far more money than any committee work she ever did. . . .
“My art is a celebration of life and its Creator,” says Cook. “It gives me the opportunity to motivate people to give themselves permission to dream. If you delight in your God-given passion, He will give you the desires of your heart—because He put them there! Don’t ignore what God is tugging at your heart to do; that’s like saying what He has created for you isn’t important. Pursue what gives you joy, and you will be amazed by the significance of what God will do through you.”
Your Giftedness versus Your Calling
I recently had a conversation with an individual who went into great detail about his calling. The conversation went something like:
“God called me to go to . . . and then He asked me to . . . and then He asked me to . . .”
While I appreciated his passion (not to mention his energy), it sounded like God had given him a twenty-item to-do list.
When Jesus turned to His disciples and said “Follow me,” He provided a considerable amount of latitude for the disciples to translate that into a calling. Each disciple used his unique life experiences, gifts, and passion to respond to Jesus’ call. My favorite definition of “calling” comes from Os Guinness, author of The Call. He describes it this way: “First and foremost we are called to Someone (God), not to something (such as motherhood, politics, or teaching) or somewhere (such as the inner city or Outer Mongolia).”
In Dr. Guinness’s definition, your calling encompasses your whole life rather than just a place or a profession. It’s not doing things for God and going places for Him, but living your life through the unique set of circumstances, experiences, and giftedness He’s given you. Your unique giftedness, on the other hand, is simply how God designed you. It’s the most natural way you were built to respond to life’s challenges and opportunities. In essence, your unique giftedness gives you an important clue toward God’s call on your life and your motivation and ability to respond to it.
The Uniqueness of Your Response
When you use your gifts in response to God’s call, your work becomes a joyful form of worship. Your work is an expression of your giftedness; it’s your way of working out the gifts God worked into you.
He uniquely created you to serve a purpose and then gave you a unique set of gifts to fulfill that purpose. Your calling and purpose, then, is different from your brother’s calling, your mother’s purpose, and your best friend’s calling.
The call is in God’s hands. The response is in your hands. God didn’t create you to be a puppet that would do His will, nor did He dole you out an assignment. Instead, He gives you great latitude to respond to your unique call. In essence, God’s calling is His purpose for your life, and your response (the discovery and utilization of your unique gifts) is part of your purpose for your life. When His purpose aligns with your purpose, your work becomes a joyful and significant journey.
Rosalind Cook pulled away from her community work and reflected on what really gave her joy in life: her sculpting. When word of her talent spread, the requests for commissioned work became overwhelming.
“I asked the Lord for the strength to say no to some requests because I wanted everything I did to have real significance—value other than a pretty piece of bronze to sell in a gallery.” Ivey Beckman describes Rosalind’s epiphany: Soon afterward Rosalind did a small head study of a woman with a turban draped over one shoulder. The sculpture stopped at the clavicle.
“I wanted to create a woman who depicted beauty not because of her hair, not because of her body, but because she had this inner strength and dignity,” explains Rosalind. Weeks later a friend saw the small piece in Rosalind’s studio and asked if she would donate it as a fundraiser for Tulsa Project Woman, an organization that helps women who have no health insurance pay for breast cancer treatments. “I finished the piece and took it to my foundry to have my mold done and asked for Suzy, who always does them for me. But Suzy wasn’t there,” Rosalind recalls. “I learned she had breast cancer and was taking chemo treatments. In tears, I told her coworkers what the sculpture was for and was astounded to learn that Project Tulsa Woman had paid for Suzy’s treatment.”
Later Rosalind asked Suzy to speak at the event in which the small bronze sculpture would be unveiled. Although shy, Suzy bravely told a crowded room how Tulsa Project Woman took her death sentence and gave her the gift of hope. “Everyone there was in tears as Suzy, who had lost her hair and her breast, stood beside the sculpture of a woman who depicted beauty—not because of her hair, not because of her body, but because she had inner strength and dignity,” recalls Rosalind. “Suzy was the living embodiment of that sculpture, and the money to help more women poured in. God honored my prayer for significance by taking the least significant thing I had done and making it the most significant. His hands guided mine to shape that small study because He knew exactly what His purpose was.”
Understanding Your Giftedness: The Motivated Abilities Pattern (MAP®)
In January 2003, Rob Stevenson, managing director of People Management International, a firm that specializes in executive searches, executive coaching, and organizational effectiveness, introduced me to a whole new way of becoming what God designed me to be: the Motivated Abilities Pattern® (MAP®) developed through the SIMA® (System for Identifying Motivated Abilities®) discovery process. Arthur Miller, the founder of People Management, distilled his years of research into this insightful discovery: “The surest way I have found to unlock the essence of a person is to look at what he likes to do and does well.”6 The simplicity is beautiful. Your giftedness is the intersection of what you naturally do well with what you love doing. The MAP® is the system People Management developed to identify and describe a person’s unique giftedness. They found that all patterns of giftedness have five dimensions:
1. Abilities The abilities you love to use. These are the natural strengths and competencies you employ to accomplish the results you want (i.e., study, experiment, analyze, persuade, strategize, teach, etc.).
2. Subject Matter The things you love to work with; the objects or subject areas to which you’re naturally drawn and in which you achieve your most productive and fulfilling achievements (i.e., numbers, concepts, people, tools, machines, color, etc.).
3. Circumstances The ideal environment; situations or settings that stimulate you to achieve. These are the ideal conditions in which you function (i.e., structured, visible, competitive circumstances, etc.) and the factors that “trigger” your motivation (i.e., needs, problems, potential for measurable results, etc.).
4. Operating Relationships The way you interact with others in order to accomplish meaningful results (i.e., team member, individualist, spark plug, facilitator, coordinator, etc.).
5. Payoff The outcome or goal you love to work toward in order to feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction (i.e., excel, overcome, meet requirements, gain response, acquire goods and status, pioneer, etc.).
The MAP® process encompasses your whole life, not just one segment of your life. Your giftedness is not just about finding your strengths but about finding your passion, your circumstances, your relationships, and the meaning and satisfaction you seek. When we integrate all five areas of our giftedness into a whole, we get a better sense of how God designed us to achieve our calling.
In the “God Is My Coach Life Plan,” we’ll go through an abbreviated MAP® process to help you discover your unique giftedness. You’ll discover gifts you never realized you had.
Mentor on a Mission
Robert J. Stevenson, managing director of People Management International, is a nationally known management consultant in senior management selection, organizational design and development, executive coaching, succession planning, and workplace change and innovation. Rob was excited to be able to give some practical ideas about this topic—our unique giftedness, purpose, and calling—in order to bring it within our grasp.
Q: What is the greatest misperception about gifts?
A: Most people suffer under the delusion that the gifted and talented make up less than 5 percent of the population. That’s wrong. One hundred percent of us are gifted and talented.
Q: What frustration do you experience working with clients?
A: We see many people who are gifted but disengaged because they’re doing the wrong job for the wrong reason. Their gifts have been squelched and discouraged by well-meaning but misdirected helpers, counselors, teachers, and friends.
Q: What is the most important point you would like to make about giftedness?
A: God has placed in you a defined and refined system of giftedness that has functioned seamlessly since you were born. You are uniquely gifted; therefore, no standardized test can describe your uniqueness. The answer lies within you. The repeating pattern of your giftedness lies within the stories that reveal what you enjoy doing and do well, your “sweet spot.”
Q: How can I communicate my unique giftedness in a job interview?
A: First, you need to explore and know your “sweet spot”—that special area where your passion and purpose shine. You can’t sell a product until you understand its unique benefits to the customer. In the same way, you can’t sell yourself until you know what you enjoy doing and do well. There’s no unemployment for a person who knows his or her gifts well enough to communicate and leverage them. Second, your value to an employer or organization is based on three areas: 1) your professional experience, 2) your education or training, and, finally, and most importantly, 3) your unique giftedness. You need to integrate all three areas to tell your story effectively.
Counsel for Consideration
When you’re dwelling in a time period that’s gray and filled with chaos, it’s easy to grow impatient with your circumstances. Like my son, Scott, with his puzzle, we try to force the shape of a duck into an opening meant for a sheep. Don’t force your God-given and God inspired uniqueness to conform to a purpose He never intended for you to have. Instead of seeking external clarity and direction, focus your efforts on the internal to find your genuine calling.
There are resources and organizations that can help you find your strengths, personality type, and gifts. I chose to share People Management’s process for three reasons:
1. The process analyzes stories from your entire life, not just one time period. Imbedded within your life story is a treasure chest of clues to your calling. Your giftedness isn’t just about finding your strengths; it’s also about your passion, your best circumstances, your relationships, and the meaning and satisfaction you seek. Allow the process to help you discover how these five dimensions bring out the best in you so you can bring out the best in those around you.
2. God has provided clues to your giftedness since you were born. Taking time to identify your most satisfying moments from your past and then fleshing out these stories is an invaluable tool. The process itself is an important exercise in discovering how God uniquely designed you.
3. Putting the pieces of your giftedness together is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. It can be a frustrating, pressure-filled task of trying to force the duck piece into the sheep-shaped hole or, if you’re patient, it can be a fascinating journey from gray to clarity.
Going through this process won’t, on its own, provide you with clarity of purpose and direction. Further, it would be misleading to tell you that simply doing what you love will help you discover your career and calling. There are times, for example, when circumstances dictate that you must provide for your family, even though you may not love what you’re doing. Discovering your giftedness is one of the many clues God provides. Ultimately, we must trust that God has us in the gray for a reason. Seeking God’s call and discovering how to use your gifts in service to God and others is a noble pursuit. Trust in the process and trust in God. He will provide the clarity and calling you seek in His perfect timing.
Copyright © 2009 by Laurence S. Julian
Hachette Book Group
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