This week the industrious Venusa Tinyi, one of our MCS students, reviews Os
Guinness, The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life (Nashville: Word, 1998).
One of the major issues confronting the contemporary world is this: we have too much to live with and too little to live or even to die for; too much choice, too little purpose. Everyone seems to be unsettled, looking out for some meaning in life or in work. It appears as if the biblical scene of the Tower of Babel has been reenacted in our time – confusion, confusion of all sorts! The answer to the age-old fundamental question ‘What we are here to do and why?’ has become both more pressing and more elusive. Os Guinness seeks to address this crisis in this book.
Os Guinness triumphantly declares, “Answering the call of our Creator is ‘the ultimate why’ for living, the highest source of purpose in human existence.” For him “calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service.” He writes, “Discover the meaning of calling and you discover the heart of the gospel itself.”
Developing his argument, he suggests that each vocation is worth pursuing in life if our heart is aimed at pleasing God, “the Audience of One.” Calling essentially is not about doing an excellent job but more about belonging to God; it is about ‘calling to be’ and derivatively but imperatively, ‘calling to do.’ Each individual is created with a certain gift or ability to work, and so not to work is to deny the very purpose of our existence. Calling is to be understood closely in relation to seeking. And responding to one’s call inevitably leads to realization of one’s identity as well.
A couple of inspirational quotations will suggest the main thrust of this book: “The works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks, but that all works are measured before God by faith alone.” (Luther) “If our desire is to please God, pouring water, washing dishes, cobbling shoes, and preaching the Word “is all one.”” (William Tyndale) “There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, ‘This is mine! This belongs to me!’” (Abraham
Having expounded the meaning of calling, Guinness then directs his focus on things which tempt us to fall away from our sense of calling; for instance, a calling which brings forth prosperity may result in destroying the sense of calling, and this in turn may be followed by slothfulness. Or prosperity may give one a sense of security which may give a misleading impression that one can ‘manage’ everything without God or Christian obligations.
There is something mysterious about the very nature of calling as well: it is a journey which starts on earth but doesn’t end on earth. The final destination of our calling is thus beyond earthly life but we know exactly by faith where we are going. Os Guinness beautifully concludes his book with the description of Mr. Valiant-for-truth’s final summons in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress: “When the day that he must go hence was come, many accompany’d him to the River-side, into which as he went, he said Death, where is thy Sting? And as he went down deeper, he said, Grave, where is thy Victory? So he passed over, and all the Trumpets sounded for him on the other side.”
The book is focused and engaging, and like all good books, it does more than what it has set out to achieve in the first place – ‘finding and fulfilling the central purpose of your life’ through exploring the meaning of calling. By way of relating the whole meaning of calling to the Caller, Guinness also intrigues us with the life-transforming experience of discovering our true worth and identity in Christ.
There is a lot of theology driving and guiding this book, and this theology is grounded in the frequent inspirational stories which Guinness tells in relation to calling. This book is challenging in that it seeks to bring every minutest detail of life before the “Audience of One.” At the same time, this message, if grasped properly and fully, will revolutionise our perspectives on work and calling.
Our Recent Graduates ...
Ms Wong Ee Kian (Grad Dip CS 2008, cum laude)
Ee Kian has been working in the software industry for twelve years. Last year, she made a mid-career switch to academia. She enjoys working with young people and is actively involved in the Girls' Brigade at Whitley Secondary School. She is currently on the leadership team of Mustard Seed Community Church. Her plan, God-willing, is to be out in the mission field in two years. Her key verse is 2 Cor. 12:5: ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’
Ms Tricia Yeo Keem Luang (Grad Dip CS 2008) Tricia is a trained social worker. She is the Executive Director of
FaithActs, a community service agency of Faith Methodist Church, which serves children, youths and families in Singapore. She will be leaving in August to serve in Indonesia together with her husband, Liang Wei, and daughter, Kayla.
This Week. Chapel speaker for 27 August will be Mr Ben Pwee. He will
be the lecturer for our new course Business & Missions (MM256)
scheduled for Term 2. We take this opportunity to introduce him here:
Mr Pwee is managing director and principal consultant with I-DEO Asia.
He was formerly a senior political diplomat in charge of Greater China
and Southeast Asia; executive director for MSI Professional Services
International, an international professional organization servicing
China; and senior consultant and trainer with Dun & Bradstreet
Training & Consulting Services, a large global business information
With over 12 years of experience in Asia, his specialty is in business
strategy, market entry, corporate planning, organizational development,
political analysis and governmental negotiations. His key industries
include healthcare, education and branded retail goods. His clients
include Philips Asia-Pacific, Bank of East Asia, Victorinox, and various
hospitals, universities and government departments and agencies of
China, Hong Kong and Singapore.
He studied at University of Cambridge and Harvard Business School. He is
fluent in English, Mandarin and Cantonese, and is based in Hong Kong.
Sports and Family Day - Farm Day & Fun Day. You are cordially
invited to join us for a time of get-together in a rural part of
Singapore away from the city buzz...
Date : Saturday, August 30
Time : 11:00am - 5:00pm
Places : Singapore Vision Farm / Qian Hu Fish Farm
Getting there :Take a shuttle bus from Choa Chu Kang Bus Interchange
(Berth 5) to Qian Hu Fish Farm. From Qian Hu, it’s a short 5 minute
walk to Singapore Vision Farm, where we will be assembling. Bus leave ˝
hourly, from 8.30 am onwards.
closure… Please note BGST Library will be closed on Saturday,
August 30 to enable all staff to attend our Family Day. Hope to see you