Home > religion > A Review of The Life You’ve Always Wanted by Jon Ortberg

A Review of The Life You’ve Always Wanted by Jon Ortberg

I have read The Life You’ve Always Wanted by Jon Ortberg twice now. This book, when reflected upon can challenge our thinking. Here is my review and brief reflection. I would encourage you to check it out, you won’t be disappointed.

When one looks at his life, what is it that he sees? Is he full of regret? Is he bored? Does he crave more? When we accept the status quo we are bound to be disappointed. This world offers only emptiness on a silver-plated platter. While science proclaims that the sun is the center of the solar system, humanity proclaims “self” as the center of the universe. We must understand that this disappointment results not just from a lacking self-image, as this world would claim, but from failure to be who God intended us to be. When we come to the end of ourselves, we begin to see beyond the failures. If we allow God the central role in our lives it is possible to revert to the person we were destined to be. The fairytale is possible!
God does not simply want to repair our brokenness. He desires a full restoration. If we allow him, a metamorphosis can take place, a purposeful, intentional “morphing” into the creature God originally designed. When morphing happens, we no longer go through the motions of what Jesus would do; we actually want to do them. We become Christ-like.
While transformation is certainly possible, sometimes, without firm commitment a pseudo-transformation can occur, one without genuine morphing. There is vast difference between training to be like Christ and trying to be like Christ. Some questions we can ask ourselves are: Am I spiritually “inauthentic”? Am I becoming judgmental, exclusive, or proud? Am I becoming more approachable or less? Am I growing weary of pursuing spiritual growth? And am I measuring my spiritual life in superficial ways? Training encompasses a range of personal and intentional actions. Slowing down and resisting the “hurry sickness” that many of us suffer from is one. When we release ourselves from the daily demands that unnecessarily fill our schedule and divert our attention we are able to live in the moment. Some symptoms of “hurry sickness” are: finding yourself rushing even when there is no need to rush, underlying tension between family members, setting up mock races for others that really are about your need to hurry, a loss of gratitude and wonder, and indulgence in self-destructive behaviors. By deliberately slowing ourselves down, we can recover from the incessant need to rush. This is beneficial for both our families and ourselves; we must learn to take solitude for ourselves.
We can live an undivided life, one of simplicity and emphasis on Jesus. We can achieve all this by having a well-ordered heart.
Our sinful desire for self-elevation and experiencing the freedom from our need to impress others is another way we can morph. Society encourages us to surrender only to our own gratification and self-preservation. Getting ahead, no matter the cost, whether it is relationships, time, or money, is the ultimate goal for this world. Confession, freedom from peer approval, and meditation on scripture are all necessary to morph into the person God intended us to be.
Concrete Response
I have a blog. I don’t get to write as often as I want, but when I do, I enjoy it immensely. While I believe that God has given me an ability to effectively communicate, I sometimes rely too much on the opinions of others. My original and overall intent is pure; I want to inspire others to draw close to Christ. I want people to reflect on their lives, their relationships, their churches, and their country. I want to challenge people to go further, think deeper, and wake up! But, occasionally, there is the less than honorable part of me, that prideful seed, that craves that extra pat on the back. Don’t mistake me; it is always nice to be appreciated. But that beast needs to remain tame, lest it get out of control. What begins as a demonstration of uniqueness can suddenly be an invitation for ego inflation.
Years ago, when complimented I would retort a faux-modesty bit, “No…really?” God gifts us each individually. So long as we recognize the Creator of our talent and give Him glory, we maintain an appropriate balance of humility and grace. This world encourages the “approval addiction.” Consequently, people live in bondage to the opinions of others. (Ortberg, 1997/2002) It is ok to recognize our gifts, but when we are intensely aware of them we may be suffering from the “messiah complex.” (1997/2002) The author perceptively reminds us that there was only one person who never suffered from the “messiah complex” and he was the Messiah. (1997/2002)
The author states, “Noone’s approval will affect us unless we grant it credibility and status.” (Ortberg, 1997/2002) This statement struck me. I had never really considered this fact. Ortberg (1997/2002) does an excellent job at illuminating the struggle of people in their “approval addiction.” However, he fails to touch on the underlying causes of this tendency. It is highly beneficial to recognize our proclivity toward this issue. It would be even more beneficial to look deeper into what need, specifically, we are trying to meet, that, perhaps, wasn’t met in the past. Maybe we were not validated enough by our parents. Could there is some type of abuse or neglect from childhood? Are there current tensions or stresses that are causing this: strained relationships, work, or financial problems? Many times our actions are reflective of dysfunctions that have not been dealt with. Simply confronting the symptoms without understanding the root of the problem will not efficiently free us from this tendency. Ultimately, all sin, including the “approval addiction” is rooted in the fall of man and his inherited carnal nature. But even more specifically, we are constantly barraged with the struggles of life and the failings of ourselves and others. When we recognize both of these facts we can move forward. We come to the end of ourselves and can gladly submit to the loving care and restoration of Christ. With Christ’s help and the support of mature, godly people, we can face the hurts of the past and remove their hold on our lives.
Jon Ortberg (1997/2002) does a wonderful job at providing steps and suggestions to achieve the goals he highlights. We don’t have to wonder, “That’s great. Now what?” He encourages specific actions that can assist us on our personal journey. Now that I have read through the book, I want to skim back through and take a personal inventory. I alluded to my occasional, personal struggle with “approval addiction.” While I can immediately think of past issues that contribute to that tendency, I also believe it to be important that I get before God and ask Him to reveal those things to me. I pray that He will mould me in such a way that I only have to seek His approval. A sense of our abilities and talents is healthy. But it is wise to examine our motivations and the intensity of our focus.
I also want to attempt to slow down. I have three children. I have laundry and dishes, bills and dusting. There may be no deadlines. I may be too wiped to even think about tackling the mountain of laundry, but still I hurry. I suffer from “hurry sickness.” I read this book years ago, but one thing that stuck with me was Ortberg’s (1997/2002) story about his kids doing the “dee dah day dance.” I want to take time to celebrate my kids and their everyday joys. It will have to be an intentional effort, but I know it’s worth it, to me and to them. I need to slow down and simplify.
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