Feb 4, 2010

A Resilient Life, Gordon MacDonald

Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2004
Listening to Gordon MacDonald on Moody's Midday Connection sometime over the Christmas holiday, I got pumped. MacDonald was inspirational, motivational, a ball of energy and. . . a senior citizen. I could hear how his heart beat for people & for ministry. I could hear that while he may not love every change young people bring about, he definitely loves young people. I could hear that while his body is getting older, he is still focused on serving the Lord.
I knew from my experience with aging and my experience with senior citizens in the church, I knew he didn't become this person without great intention and strategic thinking. And I wanted that.

MacDonald challenged me to think of the older people I know -- which would I like to be like, why and how will I accomplish this. That experience in itself was eye-opening. As I thought of so many I didn't want to be like, I wondered when I get older, will anyone choose me as a role model or mentor? That's a kick in the pants.
Resilient People:
  • are committed to finishing strong
  • run inspired by a big-picture view of life
  • run free of the weight of the past
  • train to go the distance
  • run in the company of a "happy few"

"People who are resilient live by the gravitational pull of a call." Strategic thinking begins here. "What do I hear God saying about the direction of my life and its contribution?"

What is a "call?"
  • a summons to a way of life
  • acknowledging that you are accountable to God in the discharge of life's duties
  • originate from God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit (no one in the Bible called him/herself)
  • unpredictable (usually involving the weakest and most improbable)
  • mind boggling, almost impossible objectives, challenging
  • not classified ads (not a volunteer position)
  • in most cases, is matched with a giftedness
MacDonald describes a "call story" as "a history of whispered words and events that capture the soul and make one aware that God is speaking." For some, the call story is dramatic, for others, a continual dripping just beats on you until you capitulate.
"Resilient people identify those particular functions and qualities of being that are clearly in the gift zone." Each of us has things we must do in second gear and things we can do in overdrive. We need to lessen the second gear ones and increase the overdrive ones.
"There is a mysterious fervor within us that rises and bubbles when we are in the center of the gift zone."-

Resilient people go the distance:
  • prepare for emergencies
  • know what has to be accomplished
  • stay fit and able
  • grow your mind
  • harness your emotions
  • trim egos
  • open heart to the presence of God
"Too many people see life as a sprint.... but life is more than a burst of speed. It's a distance run and it demands endurance, determination and a kick at the finish."

MacDonald has taken some criticism for this book. He does lean heavy towards self-discipline and self-mastery, but he never, ever excludes the importance of the Master, too. When I see the older folks that I don't want to be like, I see a huge lack of self-discipline and self-mastery. I see a strong bent on selfishness and laziness. When I look at the older folks that I desire to be like, I see discipline -- a lot of it. And that has been my own experience at what is bringing me down and keeping me from being a resilient person: a huge lack of self-discipline. The older I get, the more I lean towards slacking off a little bit & resting more ("my poor aching bones").
I hope I got this encouragement and advice in time to change the years I have left. I'm a wee bit old for some of it and wish I had started awhile ago. I see now that MacDonald has published a Participant's Guide for this book. I might get that. I have copious notes from this book, but a little guide might be nice.

I Peter 1:13-15 Therefore, get your minds ready for action, being self-disciplined, and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance but, as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct;"
II Timothy 2:20-22 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver bowls, but also those of wood and earthenware, some for special use, some for ordinary. So if anyone purifies himself from these things, he will be a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
I received nothing in exchange for this review.


The Seeker said...

Excellent...sounds like my kind of book!

~Me said...

Inspiring ... (I used an 'excerpt' for my status)

Lori Neff said...

Thanks for the mention! We received quite a lot of feedback from that program - we really appreciate Gordon MacDonald and hope to have him back on Midday Connection soon!

Lori Neff
Midday Connection Producer

Poof said...

Lori, Thanks for the comment! I love the show, listen to every one on my ipod (usually a few days late). I'm also a fan on facebook and the interaction you now have with your listeners is amazing, great job!