Master of One by Jordan Raynor

2020, book 6: “Our purpose isn’t to use the world but to be of the utmost use to the world. Our purpose is to glorify God and love others thereby reflecting the life of Christ.” — Jordan Raynor

Finished on January 29, 2020

In his previous book, Called to Create, he emphasizes how our work is one of the primary ways we reveal God’s character to the world and love and serve our neighbors as ourselves. This book expands upon that theme and helps us to find, focus on, and master the work that God has made us to do exceptionally well.

I loved the focus of this book. There seems to be this grand conversation that we can be whomever we desire to be. That’s ridiculous. Let’s look at my Dad — he’s an easy example. He’s less than 6 feet tall. He’s less than 5’10” tall. Actually, he might now be just shy of 5’8”. What if his whole life he aspired to be an NBA player? Maybe he could have accomplished that feat. But what about his athletic ability? Or lack thereof. No matter how badly he wanted or desired to be an NBA phenom, that’s not something that he can do!

All I can be is me; I cannot be whomever I want to be. Who the Creator made us to be is who we are, that’s who we can be. God is an intentional craftsman, we were meticulously designed by God.

Mastery first. Period. Jesus prepared for how many years? 30. Kobe Bryant did what after getting drafted? Went to the gym. Nikola Tesla worked relentlessly when? When he saw the potential of A/C. Mastery first. Work first. Service first.

Science shows that passion comes AFTER mastery. As a Christian, the author says this should not surprise us as this is out of line with Jesus’s teaching. Jesus modeled that we are to serve not to be served. If our work is to be calling, we must admit ourselves to the agenda of the one who has called us. Happiness FOLLOWS service and the author references some of Cal Newport’s work as further evidence.

What is work for? Why work? What are we called to do in this life? Work work and work. All work done with excellence brings glory to God.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” 
1 Samuel 16:7 NIV

The Christian life is one characterized primarily by service (Romans 12:1). The point of work isn’t primarily to make us happy, the point of work is the point of life (summarized by Jesus in Matthew 22:37, 39).

I had the awesome opportunity to spend time in this church a few years back when I was in Barcelona. It was spectacular and a true spectacle of representation of God’s beauty. I have not seen much other art that is on the level of this church. Loved the opportunity to see the church and revel in the beauty of it. It’s amazing what God can do through us. As I continue to remind myself, God can do more in a moment than we can in a lifetime.

Gaudi, who constructed the Sagrada Familia church, understood that masterful work requires tremendous focus. He spent the last 12 years of his life focused exclusively on the church. From 1914 until his death in 1926, he dedicated himself to prayer, long periods of fasting, and the construction of La Sagrada Familia.

Do you want the highest building in the city? How do you get there? Two options, right?

1. Tear down the buildings of others
2. Build your building higher

Excellence. That is the way, the sustainable way. We see immoral and unethical people experience success all the time but for long periods of time? Maybe occasionally.

I don’t have to tear others down or do whatever it takes to win, this disobedience and a perversion of what God wants for us. To do my best and love others around me, that brings honor to God.

What is life for? Why are we on earth? People ask that all the time, don’t they? But the answer is in the Bible if we seek it. We were created to glorify God. And how do you do that? We use our God-given talents, skills, abilities, and unique attributes. That’s the best way.

“Our purpose isn’t to use the world but to be of the utmost use to the world. Our purpose is to glorify God and love others thereby reflecting the life of Christ.”
 — Jordan Raynor

Can you answer these questions without spending much time on them? I hope so. It’s important that we know who we are and why. Passions come with mastery, we just learned that. But, we need to know what we are drawn to. A great resource for that is Justin Dillon’s book A Selfish Plan to Change the World. What gifts? What are you good at? When people need something done, what is the thing that they are always coming to you for? That could be one of your gifts. The BEST opportunity to glorify God and serve others? I’d advise that you seek wise counsel on this one and that you absolutely converse with God about what He has for you and your life.

3 questions to ask on the path to your one thing:

1. What am I passionate about?
2. What gifts has God given me?
3. Where do I have the BEST opportunity to glorify God and serve others?

It is at the intersection of the answers to these three questions that you are most likely to find the work you were created to do.

Straight and narrow path. Period. “Lord direct my feet, direct my path. Father God may this life glorify you. Keep my eyes focused on you and remind me why I was created. I am here for you.”

As you continue down the path of mastery, there will be many side paths vying for your attention. It’s important to remind yourself what’s important and have someone alongside you to keep you focused on the path to mastery.

Excellence. Excellence. Excellence. But how do we know for sure that we are doing our best where we are? I love the 3 things that the author emphasized to his readers. There is something special about those who are able to pray for hours daily. That is a level of commitment that so many people never get to experience; that is a level of intimacy with the Lord that many people never even pursue. Why? Are we so selfish that we think the earth was created for us and our glory?

Mastery is pursuit.

Mastery is purposeful.

Mastery requires discipline.

We can either take actions that draw us and lead us closer to mastery or direct us further away from the mastery that we can all attain, it’s largely up to us.

Once you have chosen your one thing and eliminated all other distractions, how do you become masterful at your vocation and ensure you’re doing your best work for the glory of God and the good of others?

Through the author’s extensive research and interviews, the same answers kept coming up which the author considers the three keys to mastery:

1. Submitting ourselves to the teachings of other masters through apprenticeships.
2. Purposeful practice.
3. Discipline over time.

God uses broken people. God uses sinners. God uses imperfect people who surrender all to Him. But, we have to recognize and truly accept that this life is not about us but is solely for God. We are only here for a short while but God is the alpha and the omega, He is and He was, and He will be. How can we ever think that are lives are truly meaningful? I challenge you to read through Ecclesiastes and we will gain an understanding of King Solomon and his perspectives. The wisest and richest king in history shared that he thought nearly everything in his life was MEANINGLESS. It’s been incredibly humbling to read and pray through that book of the Bible and be reminded of why I am here.

“Do you understand that it’s impossible to please God in any way other than wholehearted surrender?” — Francis Chan

Humility marked the story of every Christ following master that the author spoke with more than any other quality.

This was particularly interesting to me. Sherron spoke out after uncovering some things within Enron. The corporation in response sought to smear her name and destroy her credibility… why? So they could simply continue whatever it was that they were doing, right? This reinforces to me more than anything else that it is essential to maintain true to myself, my values, and my integrity. Never compromise. Not for anything and not for anyone. There is never anything worth compromising my integrity for because Jesus said, “Store up for yourself treasures in heaven.” And nothing, I mean nothing will ever outweigh that.

Sherron Watkins, a high-level accountant within Enron that uncovered some of their shady behavior. Upon sharing her findings with the board, they looked for a way to fire her. Usually, they would be able to find a discrepancy or issue in someone’s expense report but Sherron shared that she spent time to do even the expense reports rightly. Often the corrupt organization seeks to find a skeleton in the closet of the employee to use as rationale to fire the employee, smear their name, and destroy their credibility.

How do we help others? We must first help ourselves and become valuable. We cannot become a truly impactful chef, for example, unless we become a proficient chef — we must truly develop mastery. The truth is that others will see the love that we have for our work once it’s there. Others will feel our passion. Isn’t that something to aspire towards? I believe so. The Martian, with Mark Wahlberg was an interesting movie and the author featured a great quote from the main character which I thought was especially fitting for this part of the book also.

It is when we focus on the happiness of others and serving them well through excellent work that we find true vocational happiness for ourselves. It is only when we get insanely good at what we do that we don’t only fall in love with our work but stay in love with it over a long period of time.

“We get to love what we do when we get really good at it.”
 — Mark Watney (the movie, “The Martian”)

Wow. Do we feel God’s pleasure consistently? David has been described in the Bible as, “a man after God’s own heart.” Is that you? Would you ever describe yourself in that way? Why not? Why are you here? Why are you on earth? Like really though, this is a deep question, sure, but it’s essential. What is life? What is the point of it? If life is for God and if we were created by God, wouldn’t it be special if we could fully feel and experience God’s pleasure? It absolutely would be. Why then don’t we pursue all of what God has for us? There are so many things that God has to offer. Remember,

“God can do more in a moment than humans can in a lifetime.” 
— Harrison Wendland

We feel God’s pleasure when we do the work we know He has created us to do, when we do that work masterfully well, and when we do that work by prioritizing His happiness and agenda over our own, committing ourselves to exceptional work for the glory of God and the good of offers.

This. This is why I live my life in the way that I do. The intention and the aspiration is to arrive in heaven and be greeted with God’s greatest words. To share in God’s happiness. To share in God’s joy — that’s the purpose of life for me. To know — to truly know — that I lived life in the way that I was intended to and that I fulfilled my true purpose. That is the purpose of life, to live for God and give all that I have each and every day and with each and every breath. To God be the glory, always and forever

“Well done good and faithful servant… come and share your master’s happiness.” — Matthew 25:23 NIV

I gave this book a 5/5

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