Blog reflection: Make Work Matter book review

Actively discern, find, and do good work

Book Review: Make Work Matter: A guide to meaningful work in a changing world, by Michaela O’Donnell
(BakerBooks: 2021), 243 pages

The world of work is dramatically different than it was a generation ago, even just a few years ago. Some find that the new world of work is taking a toll with increased negative feelings of being overwhelmed, anxious, or lonely. How are we, as disciples of Christ, to cope during rapid societal changes and the rise of negative feelings in our world?

Michaela O’Donnell’s recent book, Make Work Matter, offers a timely blueprint for navigating the changing and complex world of work. O’Donnell, the executive director of Fuller Seminary’s De Pree Center for Leadership, is an entrepreneur, teacher, and vocational scholar. Utilizing riveting personal stories and practical end-of-chapter exercises, readers are gifted a useful guide for navigating the complexities and stressful demands of work. Drawing upon her doctoral research, O’Donnell expertly weaves the findings with theological reflections “to come up with a set of tools that people can use in order to discover more about themselves, God’s calling, and their work” (p. 35). Make Work Matter offers a nuanced understanding of calling by suggesting that there are “…four layers of God’s calling: the call to belong to Christ, the call to work toward redemption, the call to create, and the call to particulars” (p.79). Thus, the book is an invitation to trade a life powered by hustle or filled with anxiety, loneliness, or feeling overwhelmed for a life with healthy rhythms of reflection and rest. Readers are encouraged to use this book as a map to define the following: where they are in this season of work; embrace what the Bible says (and doesn’t say) about calling; develop mindsets for a new world of work; and, through personal reflection, work out ways that sustain them in their journey.

COVID, climate change, conflict, and accelerated technology continue to bring adaptive challenges to work. Such adaptive challenges require adaptive skills like creativity, resilience, empathy, and imagination. Amidst these challenges, O’Donnell invites us to “walk in the entrepreneurial way.” By this she means, “… a way of working and living that helps us respond faithfully to God’s callings” (p. 96). So, if you are asking questions like: Where do I want to go?
Who will I become? How will I get there? this book’s practical wisdom is a great place to start for discovery and vocational discernment.


Text by JoAnn Flett – CFB | Executive Director

Center for Faithful Business

Seattle Pacific University

Dr. JoAnn Flett, Executive Director


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