In Courage and Calling, Gordon Smith communicates a comprehensive theology of vocation and a practical rationale for its pursuit. His thesis is set in the context of a modern understanding of work and offers a distinctly realistic and hopeful theological response. Smith crafts a broad definition of calling that encompasses three main components. Primarily, he explains, mankind is called to Christ, secondarily, individuals are called to the everyday demands of life, and thirdly, calling can be understood as a sacred way of serving God in the world. It is this third understanding of the concept that constitutes the majority of Courage and Calling’s focus.
Yet, Courage and Calling is about more than articulating a general definition of calling. For Smith, vocation is a central aspect of what it means to be a Christian and as such, the “what” and “how” are of equal importance. To Smith, pursuing one’s vocation with integrity, excellence, truth, diligence, and generosity are just as important as evaluating one’s desires, gifts, personality, and conception of the needs of the world in order to discern one’s specific vocation. Attention is also given to specific issues such as working within an organization, learning when it is appropriate to resign from a position, the importance of perseverance in the face of adversity, and in pursuing one’s vocation, the essential nature of doing so with courage.
Courage and Calling gives the reader perspective on the idea of vocation along with insight into determining one’s specific vocation and how to pursue and fulfill it in a Christ-like fashion. This text could be utilized in career counseling as a resource on specific subjects relevant to the client or to be read as bibliotherapy in its entirety. Either way, it proves a valuable resource for articulating a strong theology of vocation as it relates to discernment, fulfillment, and completion of vocation. A sequel text that allocated more attention to the details of discerning one’s gifting, desires, personality, and conceptualization of the world’s problems would be advantageous.