On The Art of Work

Welcome to Whispers From My Library


Each month, I’ll be sharing about a book or two that I’ve found to be very valuable in my own collection of read words.  I believe books are some of the most important aspects of human development. I was the nerd who had posters about books in general hanging in my room growing up that stated with confidence and persuasion, “Dive into books! You meet some interesting people there!” and “Readers become leaders!” But my very favorite quote of all time about books is from President Thomas Jefferson, “I cannot live without books.” If you were to step into my house, you’d see what I mean.

My collection is ever growing. I don’t particularly like checking books out from the library, because I have to return them. It’s like saying good bye to a dear friend when I have to do that and it hurts my heart. I don’t particularly like lending out books either because I fear never having my book returned to me. I don’t mind giving duplicate copies of treasured words away, though. In fact, that’s one of my favorite gifts to give. And I especially love recommending books and telling people why such and such a book is so worthy to read.

So, I hope you’ll enjoy this part of reaching beyond my reach. I hope you’ll be inspired to read more and to find community here where you can share your book love and have others share back.


I remember a time in my life, where I was stuck in a mundane job in a call center with high demands, that left me exhausted all day every day. I would often go home with the appetite of a full grown man because I had to skip lunch once I moved up the ladder to meet with visitors and consult them about what we had to offer. When I explained to people that I had graduated with a degree in English, I would always say, “Well, someday I’m going to be a writer, but something has to pay the bills in the mean time.”

I said that a lot. I said that at every job after that. Until one day, I dropped the someday. And do you know who helped me drop the “someday?” Jeff Goins. He wrote an E-Book called, “You ARE a Writer, so start acting like one.” It changed my life.

Ever since my friend, Rachel, introduced me to his work, I’ve followed Jeff Goins. And I have to tell you, his new book, “The Art of Work,” just absolutely nails it when it comes to understanding how your life becomes your calling.

I remember sending out an email to my co-workers back in my very first big girl job, offering encouragement that the work we were doing was not simply pushing buttons, typing some things, transferring calls, and talking people into committing to what we had to offer. No, there were stories we listened to of hardships and celebrations. There was guidance we were put on the spot to offer, being equipped on the fly by what God spoke into our mouths to say. We were investing in people’s futures by ushering them in the doorway of one of their biggest life decisions. We were inviting them to an experience far more valuable than the sticker price of what we were selling. What we did mattered.

What Jeff says about this sort of thing is this, “ Nothing is wasted. No job, no task, no obstacle is useless, if we are willing to see how it can fit into our calling.” He goes on to say, “Every place you go, every person you meet, every job you have is a chance to gain greater clarity in your self-education.”

The “someday” was dropped off of the statement about me becoming a writer and I sat down and started to write one day. But if I hadn’t worked the jobs that weren’t completely in my niche, I wouldn’t have been as poised to be able to have stories and lessons to write about.

The phrase, “portfolio life,” is new to me. But Jeff explains what I’ve been trying to put my finger on for years: “The basic idea of a portfolio life is that instead of thinking of your work as a monolithic activity, what if you chose to see it as the complex group of interests, passions, and activities it is? And what if instead of identifying with a job description, you began to see the whole mass of things you do as one portfolio of activity?”

Don’t you just love that? You don’t have to feel like a spazz who has tons of balls up in the air, ready to drop at any moment. No, you can embrace the fact that God has given you a unique purpose in life with many different headings to display His handiwork in your life. You’re not just a writer. Or a business woman. Or a teacher. Or a mailman. Or a dentist. Or a call center representative. Or a waiter. Or a stay at home mom. Or a pilot. No, you’re much more than that. You’re a friend. You’re a neighbor. You’re a wanderluster. You’re a shutter-bug. You love basketball. You love ice cream. You’re inspired by art. You love to decorate and redecorate your home. You enjoy the latest fashion trends. You’re a movie buff. You’re a sister. You’re a brother. You’re a mom. You’re a dad. You’re passionate about helping people get clean water. You’re an advocate for orphans. Most of all, hopefully, you’re an ambassador for Christ and child of God. Do you see what this means? You’re called to a collection of things…the most important things that God has fashioned you to be put on earth for such a time as this. And it’s ok to be identified by your portfolio, rather than one title.  I would argue, though, that the order in which your portfolio descriptors are listed are important.

Jeff says, “Calling is a conduit for life, allowing us to bring our skills and passions together in a satisfying, meaningful way.” Every aspect of our portfolio life are strung together by the thread of calling- God’s purpose for our days.

There are failures along the way in the process of living your calling. You find out that some things are worth going all in for and others are worth admitting that they are not for you.

A calling is hard work at times and always an act of discipline and dedication. Ultimately, it is a commitment rooted in the labor of love. As Jeff puts it, “If you can do something when it’s not fun, even when you’re exhausted and bored and want to give up, then it just might be your calling…You have to love the work to be able to persevere through those difficult times, those painful moments when you would probably rather quit…Not until you find something you can do to the point of exhaustion, to the extent that you almost hate it but can return to it tomorrow, have you found something worth pursuing.”

“The Art of Work” wraps up with the idea that calling is all about giving yourself away, leaving a legacy for those who come behind you and even a little bit of your work unfinished for the next generation to pick up. “If significance is what matters to you, you can structure your life and work in a way that allows you to live your legacy now. In fact, your giving doesn’t have to be a by-product of your success; it can be the very thing that drives it in the first place.”

As you grow deeper in your own calling, you will find that there are others you can offer an apprenticeship and mentorship to just as others have done for you. It’s not something that comes any route but organically, usually. As you go from one step of your calling to the next, you gather people who will support you and cheer you on and also find people that you can do the same for. Calling is very connected to community. You probably won’t complete every thing you think you will in your calling. But if you continue to be faithful in the tasks that God has trusted you with for your time on earth, He will bring others behind you to pick up the torch.

Finishing strong in your calling is equally important to starting. “The right choice isn’t to retire, to simply settle in and invite death. It’s to work hard and passionately, but acknowledge the limitations of what one life is capable of.”

So, my friend, are you trying to evaluate your portfolio and find indicators that would point you toward what your calling is? Read this book. It will help you reach beyond your reach in wise, practical ways.

(You can buy the book here.)

For more of Jeff’s work, click here.

One Comment on “On The Art of Work”

  1. Pingback: The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly of a Best-selling Book Launch

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