Dan Miller. 48 Days to the Work You Love: Preparing for the New Normal. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2015. 240 pp. $15.99.
Religion and Sociology
48 Days to the Work You Love isn’t a promise, but a guide. Since its original publication in 2005, the American workforce has undergone tremendous change. We have seen the collapse of industries once thought unsinkable, but as the author says, “These changes have created a new phenomenon. Forced to look for work, many people have experienced a wake-up call, realizing they could choose or create work that is more than just a paycheck. They have discovered the thrill of work that blends their strongest talents, their personality traits, and their dreams and passions” (vii).
The Great Recession has left many people free-falling. But in the process, they have learned the benefits of living without strings and have had to learn, often by trial and error, what they can and can’t do. Dan Miller is here to guide people into an understanding of who God created them to be so that they can make more informed decisions regarding their vocation.
Miller breaks a person down into three categories: 1) Skills and Abilities, 2) Personality and Tendencies, and 3) Values, Dreams, and Passions. Once you have properly identified your strengths and weaknesses in these areas, Miller states, you can begin to reverse engineer your life, setting goals, and start working towards accomplishing them. As Miller states:
“The principles in [this book] are not just a process of rational analysis or a series of tests to define your abilities. Rather, the principles teach a process of learning to pay attention to what God has already revealed to you – people, events, and activities that evoke the strongest response in you. The process is more intuitive than logical, more art than science” (103).
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
This book certainly could be a benefit for pastors. But before I recommend this book I want to mark a few of my concerns, before a pastor blindly recommends it to one of their members. Miller hits his stride when he gives practical advice for personality and preferential qualities, but he trips up when it comes to Biblical exposition.
When describing why he chose 48 days as a benchmark, Miller employs the same type of 40-day language that Pastor Rick Warren employed in his book, The Purpose Driven Life. This type of reasoning by Miller sometimes comes across as too pragmatic. In other instances Miller seems to overreach when looking for Biblical support for his principles. In one example he says, “I heard this gravelly voiced man say that I could be anything I wanted to be by simply changing my thinking. He talked about six words that could dramatically affect the results of my best efforts: ‘we become what we think about.’ ” Miller then uses Prov. 23:7 as proof for this, “As he thinks in his heart, so is he” (NKJV).
These issues aside, I do think this book is worth your time. Your people may have no idea how to find a new job, or even be aware of what God created to do vocationally. Perhaps they’ve never thought about who they are or what makes them tick. These revelations can be catalytic for someone seeking direction.
As I mentioned, Miller hits his stride when given practical advice on how to prepare for the job hunt. The job market has changed rapidly in the past ten years. But what do many Boomers or GenXers or Millennials know when it comes to how to prepare a resume, what to display in their social profiles, how to contact a potential employer, or how to hit a home-run in an interview? The people you shepherd as a pastor are those who you will be counseling, and they will need spiritual and practical guidance. Miller does this well.
Miller also provides a solid foundation for Christian work, and argues well for a destruction regarding the compartmentalization of sacred and secular. He says, “[We’ve] developed a dualistic lifestyle, being spiritual on Sunday…but then the rest of the week, well, that’s just work…The Bible makes no separation of the different areas of our lives – everything is spiritual. The Bible gives dignity to any work” (113). This is important for our people to understand. Sometimes work, especially jobs we dislike, can be a spiritual drag. Pastors must be able to turn their members’ eyes towards Christ in the workplace and show that any job that provides for your family is worth your time.
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By
48 Days to the Work You Love will equip pastors to adequately serve their members who struggle with job loss or direction, and can be a helpful tool box for a variety of life situations.