An unexamined life is not worth living. - Socrates
My last blog post introduced Bob Buford’s book, Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance.1 Buford begins his book by describing his successful career. Then, after experiencing the unexpected death of a family member, Buford describes his time of personal discovery during which he asks himself a probing question.

“Is this as good as it gets?”

Buford labeled that slice of time halftime because he equated it to a football coach adjusting his game plan between the first and second halves of a football game, thereby enabling the team to play their best game.

Buford realized that his experience was universal: Everyone comes to a point when they ask themselves,”Is this really as good as it gets?” So he wrote this book and created the The Halftime Institute to help other people create a “quiet space” for their own time of self-discovery that will enable them to live lives that are more: more creative, more impactful, more meaningful, more adventurous, more learning, more contribution.

Buford answered his question.

“No. Better things await you.”

Spend a slice of your life for a time of discovery.
Set aside a slice of your life for self-examination so that you can live more intentionally. Savor that time; don’t rush through it.

The Process of Discovery

Buford’s book picks up where Richard Rohr’s Falling Upward left off. Rohr talked about the spiritual change people go through as a result of loss and how that change leads to a “pouring out” of one’s life. Where Rohr’s book is descriptive, Buford’s book is prescriptive, guiding readers in the process of transformation from one way of living to another.

As I read Buford’s book, I felt as though I was working with a life coach who was helping me reflect on my past and work toward a plan for my future. Chapter 7, Taking Stock, begins the process, and there is also a section entitled Questions for Reflection and Discussion at the end of the book that includes several assessments.

Buford challenges his readers to create silence and intentionally spend time — weeks, months, or even a few years — to consider what comes next. Is there something you want to accomplish that you haven’t had time to do? What legacy would you like to leave? Invite your spouse into this quiet space; you’re on this journey together. Spend time in prayer, talking with the Wonderful Counselor and humbly seeking his direction.

Finding Significance

Dr. Timothy Keller’s article, “Discerning Your Calling,” served as a helpful reminder that all forms of legitimate work serve humanity. No job is more or less significant than another. Therefore, I don’t need to change my line of work simply because I want to contribute more significantly. God wants me to use my unique talents to serve within my unique community and circumstances.

All work, according to God’s design, is service. Through work we enrich one another and become more and more interwoven. When Christians do “secular” work, they function as salt and light in the world (Matt. 5:13–16).

Farming and business, childcare and law, medicine and music—all these forms of work cultivate, care for, and sustain the created world that God made and loves. We are all ministers (priests) to the human community on God’s behalf.

– Dr. Timothy Keller

Dr. Wes Feltner’s sermon, “The Pursuit of Work,” also enriched my reading of Halftime.  In his study of Ecclesiastes, Feltner explained that people mistakenly work to find meaning in life. We think, “If I’m doing something significant, then I’ll be significant.” If we believe that, work becomes our savior. It provides us with a false sense of security, significance, accomplishment, and satisfaction. So even though God gave us work and it’s good, it is not our savior. Our true and lasting significance is found in Jesus, the savior. Because of the hope we have in him, our future with him in eternity is secure. Our identity lies in being created in the image of God, regardless of our abilities or disabilities. We can work and we can find rest in Christ. And we can find ultimate satisfaction and enjoyment in God.

I found the words of Keller and Feltner freeing while savoring my slice of time to plan the next steps in my own life.

If you’re experiencing some restlessness about where you’re going with your life, I encourage you to thoughtfully work through Halftime.

1 Buford, Bob. Halftime: Moving from Success to Significance. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008. Print.

Discovery: The Examined Life
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Tracie grew up with three sisters and a brother in a farmhouse surrounded by cornfields and relatives. She draws on that early foundation to write about her Christian faith, creative activities, and family life.

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2 thoughts on “Discovery: The Examined Life

  1. Tracie, I so enjoy your blog, but I don’t often take time to comment. This one really hit home, as all of us of a certain age are starting to focus on what comes next. I will check out this book.

    Your writing is a joy to read. In this age of dashed-off, incomplete and incoherent thoughts — and just plain poor writing — what a pleasure to read something as well-written as your blog. THANKS for sharing it!

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