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Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  442 ratings  ·  74 reviews
Is it possible to know the world and still love the world? Of all the questions we ask about our calling, this is the most difficult. From marriages to international relations, the more we know, the harder it is to love. We become cynics or stoics, protecting our hearts from the implications of what we know. But what if the vision of vocation can be recovered allowing us t ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published February 10th 2014 by IVP Books (first published January 6th 2014)
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Katelyn Beaty
Steve Garber of The Washington Institute blends his rich life experiences and conversations over the years with insights from music, literature, and public policy to offer an honest account of Christian responsibility in and love for a broken world. The central tension that animates this book is the challenge of both knowing and loving the world--of taking an unflinching look at the gap between the world God intended and the world humans have made of it, and yet to work to invest in it and tend ...more
Alex Stroshine
Jun 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: christian-living
I suppose I went into reading this book expecting it to be a bit more practical about discerning one’s vocational calling(s). Instead of this, Steve Garber’s “Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good” was a collection of narratives of individuals and families (many of them friends and students) doing some remarkable things to change culture for the common good. Garber’s central, driving theme is “Can we know the world, with all of its pain, and yet still love it?” He draws from thin ...more
Rachel Harp
May 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wowwww. This book!! Garber put words to many thoughts, questions, convictions I’ve had about vocation and life. In sum: “Knowing what I know about the way the world is, what am I going to do?” Maybe most beautifully, this knowing and doing isn’t always grandiose. In fact, having eyes that see and hearts that know, and having responsibility to care, is often most impactful in our closest spheres. “Greatness was seen in the ordinariness of their lives.” The daily choices we make, big and small, in ...more
Sarah Dodson
Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: re-reads
“To pay attention is to see what matters and what does not matter. It is to discern rightly, to choose well. Yes, it is to know as we ought to know, to know in a way that leads us to love... a kind of learning that is born of a love of God for the world.”
Justin Edgar
Apr 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Steven Garber's begins his magnificent book with the key question in life, "Knowing what you know, will you still love?" Will you still love your spouse, your job, your co-workers, your neighbor, your city? The more you know, the harder it is to love. But as Christians, we believe in covenant epistemology. The essence of our faith is to know and love and if we love, then we must act. We must take responsibility for the way the world is and act for the sake of the world. This is the way of YHWH, ...more
Chris Woznicki
Mar 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
What the heck am I supposed to be doing with my life?

Working with college students I hear that question all the time. It seems like it is a perpetual mystery among college age/post-college age adults. To be honest it seems to be a perpetual mystery for myself as well.

In recent years we have seen a sort of resurgence among books, sermons, and blogs about Christian visions of vocations. What is a vocation? Is a career the same thing as a vocation? What does faith have to do with work? How do our v
Emily Fromke
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is the best book I have read in the past year. It asks the question, “Knowing what I know, what am I going to do?” It offers a worldview that is coherent. Knowledge means we have responsibility, and responsibility means to care, to act. Garber writes about the capital T truth. “Those who know the most must mourn the deepest” (Lord Byron). Yet we are called to know, and even knowing what the world is really like to still love it, seeking proximate justice, proximate love, proximate care, pro ...more
Andy Gainor
Apr 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
How do know this world, its evil, corruption, sorrow, yet still love it? How do we respond to knowing it? These are the questions Steven Garber seeks to address. His answer: work through common grace, for the common good. One day at a time we glorify God as we “in proxy” deliver justice, serve the market place, grow our world.

The only lack I found in this book is a practical scenario of when you find yourself in a place that you feel is not helping the common good. What should you do? What if y
Debbie Swanson
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes we read a book that we already understand and agree with, but are challanged to go deeper in our beliefs and thoughts. That is what this book did for me. Steven Garber's style of story telling, with references to many books( that I now want to find and read) is easy to enjoy and yet full of challenging thoughts. Highly recommend! ...more
Oct 04, 2015 rated it liked it
I wanted to like this book better than I actually did like it. Garber is erudite and extremely eclectic in his exploration of vocation, which he defines broadly as "that to which I am called as a human being, living my life before the face of God." (11) That would ordinarily be just up my alley, but often it seemed that he brought in far too many examples, and often I wondered just what the heck he was trying to say at any particular time. His mind seems to grasp abstractions extremely well, and ...more
Ian Caveny
Aug 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology
Visions of Vocation fits in that bizarre category of IVP books that I describe as "very hard to define, yet likely changed my life." Or something like that.

Steven Garber is a man who has lived life. And this book at times feels more like a biography than a book about vocation. Rather than provide us (willing Cartesians that we are) with simple definitions of vocation and how to do it, Garber uses his literary training to evoke vocation in the reader.

He also accomplishes - and this better than Ja
Jeff Bobin
Feb 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faith-and-work
Once again Garber will make you think about living out faith in whatever your field of work.

This needs to be read slowly and taking the time to think through what he written is worth the effort. Taking the time to ask the right questions might be one of the most important things we can learn. Posing questions and pushing into thinking differently you will be challenged to reflect on how your faith can be lived out.

Living and working in Washington DC in the midst of the power while guiding stud
This was both less and more than I expected. It felt kind of scattered with thoughts and stories coming from many directions and people, but all circle that question, "Can you know the world as it is and still love it?" and still find a place to take responsibility for what it is and is becoming? His trio of 'r's, relationship, revelation, responsibility, reflecting God's interaction with His creations, leave us with much to reflect on and to get up and do. ...more
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wow. Garber addresses reality head on. If you've ever been convicted about "I mean should I give that homeless guy cash?" Or simply "is my doing good really effective?", then read this. He gets into how a proper individual response to travesty is of penultimate importance to healthy culture ...more
Oct 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Wise and encouraging. Especially liked his discussion of 'pxoximate' good/ 'proximate' justice as what we should strive for. This world is too broken for naive, utopian ideals to survive long, but we can't give in to cynicism or despair. "Knowing what I know, what will I do?" ...more
Justin Daniel
Can we know the world and love it? That’s the question that Steven Garber asks in this book, “Visions of Vocation.”

When I picked up this book, I thought it would have some good answers on what I should do with my life. Not that I need a ton of help on this question. But I’m pulled to the left and right of two extremes: my life’s purpose, I feel, is to enter into ministry but practically, the Marines make a lot of sense for now. This book wasn’t what I expected, but it was helpful.

Garber starts o
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
"We commit ourselves to living certain ways - because we want to - and then we explain the universe in a way that makes sense of that choice."

This is true of everyone even those who buy into the Enlightenment Project and postmodernism. Garber does a good job of painting with words the distinctions between postmodernism and Christianity. He brings out the tragedy of looking at the world "through dead man's eyes" - the idea that we can look at facts without impact from anything else. This leads pe
Lisa Slayton
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I wrote this endorsement for Visions of Vocation prior to the publication of the book in 2014. This book is even more important today as we see so much lostness in our world and a deep hunger for meaning in our lives. Its sound theology and rich, tender story telling draws us in and gives us hope.

"Visions of Vocation calls its readers to make a commitment to a journey, one of calling and courage that will challenge not just your mind but also your heart and your soul. This remarkable book will
Ian Galey
Feb 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Steven Garber addresses the perennial question of mankind: how can we know the world and still love it? Through various anecdotes, Garber explores the implications behind this question noting first that those who encounter the world and its suffering sometimes innately feel a responsibility to help it. By knowing, we are implicated because knowing produces responsibility. And because suffering is a reality of the world that all humans feel, we are meant to engage with it honestly and openly. We ...more
Seth Little
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I can't recommend this book highly enough! My wife and I both return to Visions of Vocation time and again to bolster our sense of vocation in the world as people of faith. As I've grown older and spent more time investing in communities and institutions, I've also become painfully aware of the deep challenges that are present in these contexts. The reality is that we need a robust vision and toolset to engage the world as it is, and Steve Garber helps to clarify both for us. He says the fundame ...more
Bradley Somers
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book written to give both a grande vision and grounded reality of vocation in the economy of God. I greatly appreciated the consistent reality checks that our vocations are a part of our call to make a difference in a broken and bent world. "Can you serve the world and continue to love the world?" even though the results of sin will flood over you and fight against you? The book is full of both meaningful stories of triumph and tragedy as people from a wide variety of backgr ...more
Ashley  Brooks
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books I'll return to again and again. It earned 5 stars not because it was without problems, but because it changed my perspective on what it really means to have a vocation or calling in this world. I do wish Garber's examples had been more diverse; he focuses mainly on people making waves through global nonprofits or politics, and it would have been nice to see his ideas applied to more "regular" people, specifically women.

Still, I gained a lot from Visions of Vocation. I
Dec 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
I really disliked the book. I found this book incredibly difficult to follow due not to its depth but more for its disunity. It felt as if I was reading a book by a man who wanted to know more about vocation than he actually did. That while you will find some jewels here and there. I would say largely the book has nothing to offer except the encouragement to see the world as it is and love it as such.
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Steven Garber is a one-of-a-kind guy. His gentleness and, most memorable, his intentionality are written through every page of this book.

A story teller at heart, Garber weaves together different people from different times to teach us to know and not be afraid of confronting what we know. To let the shock and overwhelming feeling many news bring come, not hide, but know there is a small something to be done. What is our small something? We should never stop asking. Never stop caring.
Dec 10, 2020 rated it liked it
“Knowing what you know about the world, what will you do?” An intriguing question of knowing and still choosing to love, with the highlight being ch. 7 on avoiding the temptations of stoicism and cynicism. But his application seems to miss how the ordinary person can do this in ordinary ways, as most of the applicational stories involve highly educated and privileged people working in larger spheres.
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, library
I'm not sure what else I'd title this, but the author ranges broadly out from under the umbrella of the title.

He references many other authors and works, some of which I've heard of, and every one I've read or experienced are quite good, which makes me want to find the ones I've not heard of or the ones I haven't read.
Shannon Thompson
Really enjoyed this book! I love Garber’s passion for people to connect the ordinary and mundane, the daily patterns of work and life with meaning and importance. He see’s work and vocation not as inconsequential or “incidental” but as “integral” to living a life of faith and loving the world (our neighbors) well. I appreciate how he incorporates other authors, many secular, into his insights.
Bill Pence
Feb 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Steven Garber was the featured speaker at my Covenant Seminary graduation at few years ago. Not long afterwards, my wife and I read and discussed this book. It is best read slowly, as he weaves in stories of the band Jars of Clay, Jena Lee Nardella, Wendell Berry, U2, John Le Carre, J.I. Packer, and many others along with books and films in this wonderful book. Reading it had the feel of having a conversation with him in a coffee shop or his living room.
At the time, Garber was the principal of t
Mary Huff
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book makes you think hard about your purpose in life. Are you doing what God has intended and gifted you for. And if your circumstances change, are you clinging to something old when God wants you to move on. A good deep-think book and I enjoyed it.
James Kelley
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-reads
An excellent treatise on the dignity of our labour and the importance of it as one created in the image of God.
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