So you’ve been trying to discern what your mission from God is or whether “mission” even applies to you. You’ve heard about Julie Onderko’s book “Discover Your Next Mission From God” and you’re wondering if you should pick it up. My advice to you is yes, you should.
The book is an admixture of how-to and reassurance. You should purchase it, if you feel you are not qualified for a mission due to your age, past, and/or current circumstances. In the book Onderko, using examples from the lives of the saints, assures us that there is no age qualification for performing some service to God, no past God cannot use for the good, and no disqualifying circumstances, and none too ordinary. This last point is especially significant considering the current culture where simply being a parent, single, married, or, heck, being male or female can be of extraordinary service to God when lived according to our faith.
This brings up the most significant thing I learned from Onderko’s book: our primary mission is being a good Christian. A simple idea when you think about it, but one few of us realize. I know I hadn’t until I read this book. Onderko is absolutely correct when she says finding your mission will define and focus your life. Understanding Christian as mission a long time ago would have been a great help in keeping me focused on the truly important.
While I don’t want to downplay that mission, Onderko asserts that there is yet another mission that is specifically tailored to each individual and only that person is uniquely qualified to carry it out. Fortunately, the way to discover it also lends itself to furthering our primary mission of being a Christian, so it does not become a matter of either or, but one of building up and on top of a solid foundation in Christ. This is done by drawing closer to Christ whether that be through acquiring the virtue of humility; an increased or more sincere prayer life; relying on our guardian angel, St. Joseph, and the Blessed Virgin Mary; spiritual direction from a director, a priest, and/or holy friends; and discernment through the corporeal and spiritual works of mercy. These are tried and true methods and there is possibly no other way to discern and fulfill our mission.
What you won’t find in her book is any reassurance about failing. Onderko does give assurances that God can get you pointed back in the right direction when you’ve headed in the wrong one by starting a mission different from the one God has planned. She also assures us that God equips us for our mission, but no assurance that we won’t fail. I was surprised by this because so many people have this fear. Now, it may be a moot point. If we have the required relationship with Christ, have discerned our mission correctly, and God equips us, then failure is, most likely, not a valid fear and need not be addressed. However, “Discover your Next Mission from God” would be greatly improved if that point was made explicit, since it is of concern to so many.
The only other criticism I have to offer is the title. Only because the title led me to believe the book to be written for those that have already overcome any misgivings about their abilities or circumstances in life and are ready to get started. With that expectation assurances weren’t something I welcomed. As I kept reading them I began to wonder who Onderko’s audience was. It wasn’t me. Upon reflection, I decided there may be those out there who would like to be of greater service to God, but do have those issues. Desiring to help God, still uncertain they are suitable, they may still decide to pick up the book. In that case, the assurances are entirely valid and I stand corrected.