I would recommend Robert Benson’s The Echo Within: Finding Your True Calling. I was fortunate to receive a few free copies as part of a special pre-release promotion (which I passed along to a couple of my interns). The book can be purchased at Goldengatebookstore.com for under $10 (http://www.goldengatebookstore.com/rel/v2_viewupc.php?storenr=333&upc=1400074347&affnr=-2610).
The book is a profoundly affecting, honest look at the myriad ways we are drawn into our life’s best work. Written out of his own lifelong search for and response to the calling voice of God, Robert Benson recounts his discovery of the meaning of vocation, work, and purpose through the ups and downs inherent in family life, professional choice, and spiritual experience. With clarity and insight, and in the elegant prose for which he is known, he gently invites and encourages readers to find such deep truths for their lives as well. In particular, he illuminates the way for readers to explore:
- Ways to sense the Holy in our pursuits, both in the pursuits themselves and within ourselves.·
- How to fall into our vocation and chart a course toward it at the same time.
- How to love the work we do, and the process of doing it.
For anyone beginning a new career or sensing a needed change in their life or wrestling with a transition suddenly thrust upon them, Robert Benson delivers wisdom, humor, and heart in what he’s learned about listening for The Echo Within—and how it can help us discover our calling.
My two pieces of caution, and they are not a small ones, are that he writes the entire book without (to my knowledge) mentioning the name of Jesus Christ or the study of Scripture. Though he is a gifted writer and talended storyteller, he is no theologian. Any spiritual discernment must be centered upon our repentance, reconcilation, and restoration through Christ and our submission to the bible. That being said, My favorite chapter was titled “Hearing.” The author spent a great time reflecting upon all of the people who God used to shape and sharpen the man who he would become. I recalled the Apostle Paul’s words to the Corinthian church which read, “For when one says, ‘I follow Paul,’ and another, ‘I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere men? What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe–as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor” (1 Corinthians 3:4-8).
I am eternally indebted to the diverse group of people who Christ used to speak to me at different points in my life. There is not enough room on my blog to list the people who I have been loved and lead by. I also am leary of writing specific names in fear that I will not be able to list everyone and possibly offend them – but I will do so anyways. Some of these people have come and gone . . . some I have even drifted apart from . . . but they were influential for a season nonetheless . . . and most are lifelong friends. My father taught me to love God even when no one was looking – and to be a man of my word. My mother prayed for me as a child. Jana Farley shows me true beauty each and every day. My brother has reminded me to dream. My sister has showed me how to learn. My stepmother has always protected me (even when it was from myself). My Grandfather Farley showed me that there is life after death. My Granfather Buller listens. Darrell Elliott encouaraged me to forgive. Rob Bennett challenged me to follow Christ. Neil King encouraged me to love the bible even more. Mr. Deathridge taught me how to write (sorry that I am not better than this). Dr. Stallman allowed me to heal. Paul Dron played games with me when I needed it the most. Randy Beal remindes me to be dependent upon the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Skip Bennett gave me shot when others would not. Brad Fox reminded me that I was not alone. Jeffery Portmann shows me what a leader worth following actually looks like. Ryan Smith is loyal. Darrin Cavnar is comitted. David Brakke is obedient to God regardless of the cost. These are just a small fraction of my mentors and friends from the past and the present. There are many more who I am forever grateful to. There are those that I partner alongside today. I am constantly learning from the most unlikely of people . . . especially the ones who I am supposed to be teaching and leading (such as my children, my student ministry, and leadership team). I hope that I can engage, enable, entrust, and encourage those around me in just half the capacity that they have done so for me.
Robert Benson has written more than a dozen books about the discovery of the sacred in the midst of our ordinary lives, including Between the Dreaming and the Coming True, Home By Another Way, and Digging In. His work has been critically acclaimed in a wide range of publications from The New York Times and USA Today to Spirituality & Health and The Benedictine Review. He is an alumnus of The Upper Room’s Academy for Spiritual Formation and was recently named a Living Spiritual Teacher by SpiritualityandPractice.com. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee.