Monday, January 11, 2016

Be You. Do Good, by Jonathan David Golden

Jonathan David Golden is a pastor, life coach, entrepreneur, and a bunch of other stuff.  He wants to be, in a limited way, your life coach.  In Be You. Do Good: Having the Guts to Pursue What Makes You Come Alive, he writes about many of his experiences and endeavors, especially the Land of a Thousand Hills coffee company.

After building a successful business consulting and coaching practice, Golden added pastor and church planter to his list of titles.  Then, after meeting a bishop from Rwanda, Golden worked with coffee growers in Rwanda to build "the only coffee company in the world . . . that is completely vertically integrated.  That means we tend the coffee form the bean to the barista, from farm to cup and every moment in between."  In doing so, he not only has built a thriving company, but he provides employment for hundreds of Rwandans (and a few Americans).  It's an admirable model of service and ministry, not to mention business.

As he tells the story of his path to get to where he is today, Golden has words of encouragement and motivation for the rest of us who may not have found God's calling in our lives.  God wants to work with what we have, where we are, who we are.  Golden writes, God "doesn't demand that we do something but rather says, 'Come along, and let's see who this goes.'"  I especially like that Golden emphasizes that there's not one secret plan for our lives, and if we miss it we might as well give up.  "Rather, God's Spirit offers countless entry points to the adventure you were made to live."

Golden tells great stories, and he certainly has had some adventures.  I appreciate the solid guidance he offers, such as pursuing your passion and developing those inklings of ideas that we get.  He reminds us that there may be big breakthroughs and a flurry of events to bring change in our lives, but "more often you'll be plodding bahora bahora [little by little], lurching in the right direction."  The slow, faithful obedience is more often the normative way of life.

I may be exactly who Golden is writing for: someone who once had big dreams of what he might do for the kingdom or in his career, but finds himself in a work-a-day job, falling short on every measure of the expectations of his training, background, and education.  Golden would say, "Be yourself, find your passion, and flesh it out."  I might say, "My passion's dead, I just got home from work, and I have to be in early again tomorrow."  To be honest, from where I am (and where I think many people are) to where Golden is and wants me to be is a chasm that seems impassable.  I know Golden's purpose is to encourage me to get through that chasm, but I found it hard to relate.  A better audience would be another Type A, entrepreneurial spirit like Golden.  Besides his own example, he gives examples of individuals who have been successful in their careers yet are unfulfilled.  Maybe I get tired of the "I've made a lot of money but my life feels empty" stories, when, for most of us the story is "I'm barely getting by and my life feels empty."  That's cool that Golden's client was able to quit his job and garden all the time (and then start hosting a gardening show on TV. . . .), but most people in mid-career can't do that (unless of course they have enough disposable income to hire a "life coach").  Maybe I'll get there, bahora bahora, if I ever have the guts to do what makes me come alive.  (And if I don't get out of an unsatisfying rut, that means I have no guts, right?)

Forgive my autobiographical rant.  I really like the concept and execution of Land of a Thousand Hills coffee.  If I liked coffee, I'd make a point to buy their products.  I'm very impressed with Golden and that fact that he accomplished the dream of establishing this thriving company while serving as a pastor (and other business endeavors).  There are plenty of people out there who will latch onto Be You. Do Good and totally relate to Golden.  I'm afraid I wasn't one of them.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

2016 Reading Challenge: A self-improvement book

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