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Book Review

John Adair

How to find your Vocation

ISBN 1 85311 416 2,

Canterbury Press, 2002, 7.99

(price at publication of review)


Reviewed May 2005; © Copyright, The Society of Saint Francis, 2005


There would seem to be quite a gulf in meaning between our talk of 'praying for vocations' (to Religious Life or Priestly ministry) and secular talk of 'vocational training' and 'vocational qualifications.'  One of the remarkable things about this book is that it effectively bridges that gap, for this is a practical yet inspirational book about vocation in the broadest sense of the word.  So, here, a vocation could be to the priesthood or to the religious life or to any of the traditional caring professions, but it could also be to a myriad of other occupations. 


Vocation is seen here as a gift, available to all, but there is a lot of work to be done if you are serious about wanting 'to discover the work you love,' as the sub-title has it.  Indeed, the first chapter recognises that there is such a thing as a 'vocational person', with character traits such as dedication, creativity, enthusiasm, humility and tenacity but the discovery of vocation is still something to be worked at.  Adair talks helpfully in this respect of the Taskmasters in our lives, 'external people or circumstances - (which) are the rockets under us which propel us into the effortless orbit of vocation where work is fun.'  Although I don't think Adair implies in the rest of the book that effortlessness and never-failing fun will characterise all vocational work from that day on!


This then is a practical workbook, with exercises to complete on the way and a text broken up by checklists, diagrams, examples and 'key points', bulleted at the end of each chapter.  The management consultant sort of approach will not appeal to everyone (Adair has written 27 books in the fields of leadership and management), but inspiring 'case studies,' ranging from Mozart to 'the plumber who collects fossils', and varied quotations from literature, also season the mix.  One of those, from Shakespeare, reminds us that 'There's a divinity that shapes our ends, Rough-hew them how we will.'  This is a book entirely suitable for the religious and the non-religious person alike  but it is nevertheless also a spiritual book, encouraging the searcher to find the call beyond him or herself in what Adair calls 'a sufficient condition at work - the deep mysterious "yes" of vocation.'


Desmond Alban SSF


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