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|Title: Master of One: Find and Focus on the Work You Were Created to Do|
By: Jordan Raynor
Number of Pages: 240
Vendor: WaterBrook Press
Publication Date: 2020
|Dimensions: 8 1/4 X 5 1/2 (inches)|
Weight: 12 ounces
Stock No: WW653332
Questions & Answers with Jordan Raynor,
Author of Master of One: Find and Focus on the Work You Were Created to Do
1) In Master of One, you challenge the conventional career wisdom to “follow your passions” and “do whatever makes you happy.” Why do you feel compelled to challenge this advice?
Put simply, because it doesn’t work. In the book, I cite a slew of academic studies that show that the number one predictor of someone describing their work as a “calling” as opposed to a “career” or “job” is the number of years they have spent in that vocation—not whether or not they were passionate about the field before they entered it. It turns out that we get to love what we do by getting really good at it.
This truth shouldn’t come as a surprise to Christians who are modeling their lives after the one who “came not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). The “follow your passions” mindset focuses exclusively on what value a job can offer you. A much more effective and God-honoring strategy is to “follow your gifts,” focusing on the work you can do most exceptionally well as a means of making others happy. This is the most predictable path to finding work that you will stay in love with over a long period of time.
2) In the book, you point to C.S. Lewis as an example of someone whose one vocational thing was broad. Can you tell us about that and the difference between someone’s “one thing” being broad or specific?
Master of One is all about helping readers find, focus on, and master “one thing” vocationally. But it’s helpful to understand that that “one thing” might be specific or broad.
For example, my mother-in-law’s one vocational thing is very specific. She has been the Director of Children’s Music at her church for more than 30 years. Her one thing is one specific role (and she is truly world-class at it).
But most people’s “one things” aren’t that specific. Most are quite broad. C.S. Lewis is a great example. On the surface, it might look like Lewis was a master of many things. After all, he was a renowned writer and radio broadcaster and university teacher. But in an interview for Master of One, Lewis’s heir explained to me that Lewis viewed all of this work as expressions of one thing he was intentionally seeking to master: the art of teaching.
That insight was really helpful to me, and I think readers of Master of One will agree. While your “one thing” might be specific, it very well might be broad like Lewis’s. That makes it even more important to explicitly define, focus on, and purposefully master, which is exactly what the book helps you do.
3) You interviewed dozens of world-class professionals for this book. In those interviews, what themes came up over and over again that show how we might achieve mastery in our own careers?
Master of One started with a question: How do we do the most exceptional work for the glory of God and the good of others? To answer that, my team and I relied on God’s Word, interviews with dozens of Christians who are world-class at their varied vocations, and hundreds of books, academic articles, and other pieces of business literature. In all that study, three things came up over and over again as the keys to mastering anything professionally:
No matter how you slice it, those three things are critical to becoming truly exceptional at anything vocationally.
4) Is there one person you profile in Master of One who had a particularly strong influence on you as you were researching for your book?
When I was writing the book in the summer of 2018, there was a lot of renewed interest in Fred Rogers, given the documentary (Won't You Be My Neighbor?) that has just been released about his life. I didn’t grow-up watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, but my wife and I were interested enough to go see the documentary, and as I sat there in the movie theater, I was totally blown away. I’m pretty sure it’s the only movie I’ve ever cried in.
Two things struck me in particular. First, Rogers appears to have been one of the most consistently Christ-like people I have ever seen. And second, as I watched Rogers on screen, I couldn’t help but think that he was the perfect picture of “the path to mastery” I was writing about in Master of One.
Rogers started his career in the same way I (and many others) did, with a wide range of interests and skills and a deep desire to find the work he could do most exceptionally well in service of God and neighbor. Over time, Rogers came to find that his “one thing” was Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. And once Rogers committed to the show, he was intensely focused on mastering his one vocational thing. The result was that Fred Rogers glorified God and served the world at a scale most of us can’t even imagine.
Rogers’s story—including the many pivots and moments of self-doubt on his path to mastery—were almost always on my mind as I wrote Master of One; and of course, his story is one of many featured prominently in the book.
5) How does the life of Jesus exemplify our need to say no to the nonessentials in order to focus on the work we feel called to master?
One of the main themes of Master of One is that if we are unwilling to say no to the nonessential in order to focus on the work we feel called to master, we are selfishly holding back the contribution God has called us to make in the world.
Nobody understood this principle better than Jesus who worked with a staggering amount of focus as he pursued the work the Father gave him to do (see John 17:4).
There’s a scene in the first chapter of The Gospel of Mark that illustrates this well, as Mark gives us a glimpse at a particularly productive day for Jesus who drove out demons from a man in the synagogue, healed Peter’s mother-in-law, and brought healing to “many” from the “whole town” who showed up at Jesus’s door. Not surprisingly, the next morning the disciples rushed to Jesus and said, “Everyone is looking for you!” The town had gotten wind of Jesus’s miraculous powers to heal and wanted an encore on day two. But in what must have come as a shock to the disciples, Jesus said no and offered an alternate itinerary: “Let us go somewhere else . . . so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”
This is the first, but certainly not the last time we hear Jesus say no in the Gospels. While Jesus may have wanted to heal more people, he knew he had limited time on earth to fulfill his purpose. Jesus didn’t come to earth just to heal and reveal his identity. He came to preach the gospel in preparation for the Passion he would perform on the cross. Jesus was crystal clear regarding his purpose—his one thing—and this led him to consistently say no to good things in order to focus on the essential work the Father gave him to do during his time on earth.
If Jesus couldn’t say yes to everything, neither can we. If we are to do our most exceptional work for the glory of God and the good of others, we, like Jesus, must get in the habit of saying no.
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