A Journey Worth Taking: Staging Points

This is the start of the next “blogging the book” using Charles Drew’s book  A Journey Worth Taking:  Finding Your Purpose in This World.  You can read more about what I am doing and see a schedule for reading/posting here.

The preparation for a journey can be just as important as the journey itself.  In the first section of this book, “Staging Points”, Drew appropriately takes a moment to deal with some vitally important details before delving more deeply into the idea of calling and purpose in this world.  Before the discussion about those precedes, Drew directs us to a few key thoughts in Introduction.  This stood out to me:

We enjoy unbridled freedom and seemingly unlimited options, but they exist in a social milieu that has no coherent ‘story’…In the absence of a story that connects us to what is going on around us (and to other people), life grows lonely and its purpose often shrinks down to the hollow and even frantic pursuit of whatever pays the biggest dividends (emotionally, spiritually, or materially).”

I think this is true to what we see happening in the world around us.  For believer and non-believer alike, we are facing a loss of meaning and satisfaction with the status quo.  This morning, I read a similar thought in an article by Andy Stanley:  “…it’s human nature to gravitate toward the familiar.  And left to themselves, virtually every person and organization is in a subconscious pursuit of the status quo.  Eventually they will find it.  And they will work very, very hard to stay there.”  So, Drew is challenging in this book what he calls “business as usual” (or the status quo).

Having said that then, there is another big picture question to address:  “what sort of universe do we live in?”  If we are going to talk about calling, then we are necessarily talking about a Caller.  Chapter one largely centers around Drew’s discussion of the existence of this Caller versus the prevailing worldview of the larger world.  The thoughts here presented reminded me very much of Timothy Keller’s The Reason for God.  They are both rational and consistent with the teaching of the Bible.

In chapter two, “What Is Calling?”, Drew provides a framework for calling at three levels.  I had not thought about calling on these levels, but found they make sense to my life and of those around me.  Calling, then as defined by Drew “carries through every season and circumstance of my life, and has more to do with who I am and with how I do what I do than with what I happen to be doing.”  And three levels, which can operate simultaneously, further open up the meaning of calling:

  • Primary Calling:  God first calls us to himself and to people
  • Secondary Calling: God calls us to self-discovery
  • Tertiary Calling:  God calls us to service.

As a pastor, I have had to think about calling and even stand before presbyteries and explain my sense of calling to ministry.  Furthermore, in these circles, we talk about the necessity of internal (do I feel called to ministry) and external (are others calling) calling.  But here, Drew has presented  a much fuller concept and one that transcends the concept of calling that has often remained stuck within vocational “Christianity.” Beyond that, the order or priority of calling that Drew has identified is often reversed in our culture.  We start with what we should do and we might get around to who we should be.

One other thought that really jumped out at me and would love to think more about in relation to the church is this:

…the most effective way to pursue self-discovery (secondary calling) is to serve (tertiary calling).  In other words, if I set out to discover myself, my search will be frustrating.  If on the other hand, I set out to serve, I will begin to discover things about myself along the way.”

That’s quite a different thought than “I’ve got to go find myself…”.

Please share your thoughts/questions in the comment section.


5 responses to this post.

  1. I know Charlie Drew from the Metro NY Presbytery. He’s a great guy, and author of another very helpful book – “A Public Faith,” the best book I’ve ever seen about how a Christian should relate to politics and the public square.


  2. Posted by adamtisdale on October 2, 2008 at 10:32 am

    Ken: Thanks for the recommendation. I saw that he had written that book, but I had only read his other book (Ancient Love Song).


  3. Posted by Dave & Margie on October 3, 2008 at 11:20 am

    Dave and I also liked the statement, …the most effective way to pursue self-discovery is to serve. The search for “self-discovery” conjures up psychological pursuits that have no end. Instead, God calls us to serve and in that he reveals who we are in Him.


  4. […] can read more about what I am doing and see a schedule for reading/posting here.  First post is here.  Second post is here.  Third is here.  The fourth is […]


  5. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.


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