Cure for the Common Life: Living in Your Sweet Spot
A new release by veteran author and pastor Max Lucado usually means one thing: someone else's book is about to get bumped off the bestseller list. Few Christian authors are as prolific as Lucado, and among those who are, even fewer have anything as significant to say as he does. Fewer still say it as well as he does. Yes, Lucado is in a class by himself.
Lucado seldom disappoints, and CURE FOR THE COMMON LIFE exemplifies why that is. This is the author at his best, clearly delivering an inspirational message that has substance to it, using language that perfectly illustrates each point he makes. And he seems to do all this so effortlessly that I suspect he has caused more than one budding writer to give up trying altogether as a concession to Lucado's superior skill.
The message of this, his umpteenth book, is clear: God has called you to an uncommon life and a one-of-a-kind assignment as you live out that life. To discover what that is, Lucado offers you a set of tools. Thankfully, this set is not based on the usual psychological tests or personality assessments or spiritual gifts inventories. To find your "sweet spot" --- that place where your passions and talents intersect --- he encourages you to use a method known by the acronym STORY and developed by People Management International. This method involves an analysis of your Strengths (the verbs that describe the actions that have proven successful and satisfying for you, such as "creating" or "organizing"); your Topics (concrete objects or abstract ideas that have fascinated you --- as mundane as "fruit" or as lofty as "wisdom"); the Optimal conditions under which you work (emergency situations, predictable routines, and so forth); Relationships (whether you work better alone, in a partnership, or as part of a team or large group); and your Yes! moments, those times in your life when it all came together, when you felt you had found what you were made to do.
Part career guide but mostly a life guide, CURE FOR THE COMMON LIFE avoids many of the legalistic teachings that Christians hear about their work life. Yes, Lucado believes you should perform the duties of your current job "as unto God," but he also believes that being miserable at work is not exactly a blessing from God. He urges readers to be "uncommon" --- unlike the two-thirds of American workers who toil away in the wrong job. If Lucado himself doesn't convince you to take action, then the statistics he cites should: suicides are most likely to occur on Sunday night, while heart attacks are most likely to occur on Monday morning. One-third of Americans hate their careers. Not just dislike them, but hate them.
Other "cures," all pure Lucado: Don't heed greed. Be a God-promoter. Every day do something for someone else that you don't want to do. Color Christ with the crayons God gave you. (That last one is typical Lucado: a concrete image that helps you remember the point he just made, long after you've closed the book.)
Whether you're a fan of Lucado, a newcomer to his work, or simply someone who has this nagging feeling that you were meant for something very different from what you've known so far, you're likely to find a great deal here that will prove valuable to you. Well worth reading.
Reviewed by Marcia Ford on November 13, 2011