Book review: Work, Play, Love

You guys. YOU GUYS. Earlier this year, I read a really great book about calling and life and following Jesus, and you should all go read it.

I work with college students, am married to a law student, and find myself squarely in young adulthood, so I am constantly having conversations with others about calling, career, life balance, having fun, pursuing love, planning for the future, and all those things that are the constant concern of twentysomethings.

If those things are crowding your brainspace, you should definitely  read Work, Play, Love, by Mark Shaw.

Work Play Love by Mark Shaw

For one, this book doesn’t pretend to offer concrete answers to those questions. Which, on some level, is infuriating. But then I think about the fact that I just asked a book written by a some random dude who (however well-qualified he or she may be) doesn’t know me, my passions, my personality, or my life to tell me (or my friends or my students) what to do with my life/job/fun/relationships. And when I think about that, I’m glad he doesn’t narrow it down to some formula.

Another thing I like is that he deals with an incredibly serious subject in a very lighthearted way. It’s refreshing. The whole college student/grad student/young adult searching for meaning and purpose quest is so important, I mean that sincerely. A big part of my job is walking alongside undergrads as they seek to answer that question, and I’m a big believer is making conscious decisions and chasing them rather than floating along until something mediocre happens to you. But that conversation can get so overwhelming, so grave in nature, that it can lose some of the beautiful amazingness that accompanies the fact that we live in a world where we’re not automatons and get a choice in how we spend our lives! He uses drawings and goofy diagrams to connect with his audience, unashamedly using silly imagery and casual language to illustrate deeply significant points. He speaks of determining our areas of work, play and love as things to delight in, to celebrate and enjoy in concert with each other, not as separate spheres with varying levels of success or enjoyment.

Third thing I love: he’s 100% Biblically based, and makes it easy to follow his interpretation and application of scripture without beating you over the head with anything. He does a great job of connecting the ways that relationship with God brings us life to the full, not a boring one-dimensional legalistic existence. Each chapter is based on some passage of scripture or Biblical character, starting with the character “lady wisdom,” built on the characteristics described in Proverbs. A bit cheesy, yes, but it makes Proverbs feel less like a list of advice and more like something that’s livable, valuable and even enjoyable. His point with the lady wisdom metaphor is that “wisdom is decision making that leads to human flourishing.” I want that for my life and my students’ lives and my friends’ lives.

Let me leave you with another quote that I think sums up the message of the book:

…Wisdom work has three defining delights: First is learning to delight in whatever I am doing at any moment. Second is learning how to delight in whomever I am doing all of this with and for. And finally, wisdom work is about delighting in all of the above because God is at work everywhere around me and in me, making all things new.

Yes yes yes. I want my light to be full of delighting in whatever I’m doing, whoever I’m doing it with and for, and wherever I’m doing it because God is at work around me and through me. That sounds like a worthwhile way to live life.

I’m still processing what it looks like to actually live my life this way. Easier said than done, for sure. But I’ve found a level of freedom in just thinking this way, so I’m excited to pursue what this may be like to actually live it.

That’s my take on Work, Play, Love. If you find yourself thinking about the intersection of your profession, fun, and community, you should read this.

I wasn’t asked to write this book review, and all opinions are my own. 

all images original to Teaspoon of Nose

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