Have you ever had the experience of two completely separate events or endeavors pointing you in the exact same direction? As I wrapped up one book I’ve been reading recently and started into another, I found such overlap in the content, that it gave me pause. Now, we are likely to pick similar topics to read, so it isn’t entirely surprising that two separate works I choose to read would be similar in their suggestions for living well.
The thing is that one of these books is focused on Christian mission and one is entirely secular relating to energizing work and life. The first I was reading specifically as a Lenten study. The second I am reading out of seeking personal and professional accomplishment and satisfaction. What do they both say? Serve others and live with purpose, meaning, and intentionality. In the first book, this is a means of living out my mission as a believer in Christ. In the second, this is a means of gaining energy and personal happiness.
The first book I’ve been referencing is Surprise the World: The five habits of Highly Missional People, by Michael Frost. The second is Are You Fully Charged?: The three keys to energizing your work and life, by Tom Rath.
While there are clearly differences between the two books–perhaps the biggest difference being that one draws on references from the Bible, while the other references scientific research–both of these books point me towards serving others, intentionally seeking a purpose greater than myself, and prioritizing interactions with others. As I read and reflect on these texts, I’m challenged to check my habits and assess my calendar and my budget. Where am I investing my time, skills, and treasures? How am I practicing my interests? How am I fulfilling my role as both a leader and a follower? In general, I live a very good life. Still I know (and these two books remind me) that we are all best off when we live in service to others, in relationship with others, and in contribution to a purpose beyond ourselves. If you’re looking for some inspiration, I recommend both of these books!