The Fabric of Faithfulness: Weaving Together Belief and Behavior by Steven Garber (Downers Grove: IVP Books, 1996. 222 pp)
Dr. Steven Garber is the Founder and Principal of the Washington Institute. For many years, he taught on Capitol Hill in the American Studies Program, and then became a Scholar-in-Residence for the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He is a board member for the Ransom Fellowship, the Blood:Water Mission, A Rocha, and the Telos Project. He is also a consultant for the Wedgwood Circle, the Murdock Trust, the Demdaco Corporation, and the Mars Corporation.
A Purpose-Driven Life
We’ve all heard about the mission statement. Every business conjures one to varying degrees of success. But why? Everyone talks about mission but have you considered the reason behind it? In truth, mission statements should spell out the purpose behind a company, the principles around which employees can unite and work together.
Sadly, many people never truly comprehend purpose. Many can’t put into words the reasons for why they get up in the morning. As a result, people shift from job to job and belief to belief without much rootedness.
In The Fabric of Faithfulness, Steve Garber pursues the question of rootedness. What creates consistency in the life of an individual? How does one track with the beliefs they form in order to build upon them and flourish in life?
In essence, Garber theologically breaks it down into three elements. A person needs a worldview, a mentor who exemplifies that worldview in the context of a life well lived, and a community of like-minded individuals providing support.
“Worldviews are not abstractions; they become ideas with legs that have metaphysical and moral muscle, enabling real people to make the hardest choices possible. Mentors are not an interesting idea; rather they become the primary means by which beliefs are interpreted and understood, especially when what one believes is a matter of life and death, when what one believes has consequences for the way the world is and ought to be. Community then becomes the laboratory in which our hopes and dreams become real; we do not keep on keeping on without people of kindred heart and mind pledging their own lives toward the same end, holding us up when the world, the flesh and the devil call into question our core commitments and cares” (21).
Expressing a life of meaning in these terms, Garber is critical of the current educational system. Most educators thrive at presenting a worldview, but they don’t necessarily follow through with lifelong mentorship and assisting in building a community.
Garber pursues these ideas within the realm of Christianity, but they apply to just about anyone, no matter your vocational and occupational goals.
What Gets You Up in the Morning?
Do you know why you get up in the morning? Do you have someone who models what you want in life? Do you have a group of like-minded friends willing to support you in your goals? These three pillars create the meaning and purpose that allows you to live consistently and flourish.
Too often we bounce from job to job without much thought. Maybe you struggle through a difficult relationship with a co-worker. Perhaps you hate the tedium of your job. Maybe you feel the long hours sucking your soul. These reasons aren’t, in and of themselves, justification to move to the next job. Truthfully, you’ll run into the same issues no matter your work.
But if you can express your purpose through the beliefs you have in the world, reinforce your mission through engaging a mentor, and flourish within a community of support, your job takes on meaning and the 40 hours you spend every week will begin to matter in ways you never thought possible.
Mission statements are a big deal because they are a window into purpose. When you look for a job. Ask for a mission statement, it might be the best way to understand job fit and life fulfillment.
As for The Fabric of Faithfulness, I recommend reading it if you are interested in how ideas stick in the long term.
Verdict: 3.5 out of 5