A Resilient Life

I first discovered Gordon MacDonald when I read his excellent book, Ordering Your Private World (which I highly recommend) and have since had the pleasure of meeting him professionally.

A Resilient Life (You Can Move Ahead No Matter What) is a wise and orderly treatment of resilience, which MacDonald describes as "getting stronger as I get older."

MacDonald returns often throughout the book to a central metaphor--the strategies for stamina bequeathed to him by his high school track coach--to show readers how to "finish what you start, persevere in adversity, push yourself to your potential." The book is divided into five sections:
Resilient People Are Committed to Finishing Strong
Resilient People Run Inspired by a Big-Picture View of Life
Resilient People Run Free of the Weight of the Past
Resilient PeopleTrain to Go the Distance
Resilient People Run in the Company of a "Happy Few"
Each section is divided further into short chapters.

A Resilient Life would be beneficial for pastors and others in ministry, for the need for resilience and perseverance is particularly pronounced in ministry. And, as a pastor, MacDonald tends to write with great insight and empathy for pastors. One of my favorite parts of the book was this, from the chapter entitled, "Resilient People Open Their Hearts to the Presence of God":
A haunting memory sticks from years and years ago, when news came of a young husband in our congregation who was dead by an errant shot during a hunting trip. It was my lot as the family's pastor to rush to the home and sit with the family. As I drove away from my home, I found myself asking, "And what shall I give this family? My spiritual resources are dry. All I have is words, but my spirit seems empty." It was a most miserable moment, a scary one for a youthful pastor. And one of those times when I determined I would never again be caught with an empty soul when others needed spiritual resource.

I came to see that I owed my congregation a filled-up soul. They needed this far more from me than all the church programs and visions I could put before them. Whether they encountered me in the pulpit or on the streets of our community during the week, they needed to know that if (perish the thought) there was only one human being in their world who had some experience in the presence of God, I would be that man.
A Resilient Life is more than the sum of its parts. It is a training program for men and women who want to get stronger as they get older.

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