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Master of One by Jordan Raynor

The idea of the book Master of One by Jordan Raynor is simple: find something you love and are good at, and then master it. 

While he opposes the idea of being a jack of all trades, Raynor offers biblical concepts and practical insights to help every reader decide what and how to become a master at their craft. 

Each chapter begins with a story of a real-life person who became a master of their chosen profession and the path they took to reach mastery. Raynor then offers genuine guidelines and applicable ideas to help the reader find their one thing. Each chapter ends with biblical encouragement…and a lot to ponder.

The first portion of the book makes a compelling biblical case why we as Christians should pursue excellence in work. Through biblical exegesis and quotes made by prominent theologians, Raynor thoroughly explains the importance of mastering something, not for wealth or fame, but to use it to glorify God and serve others. 

He argues that we as believers can and should master the work we have chosen to pursue, because by doing so we bring praise to God.

The next portion of the book is full of  ideas to mull over. Raynor has an art of writing in a way that invites the reader to dig deep into themselves. The questions he asks and the tips he suggests for how to decide what to master are so spot on, I had to stop reading every two pages to think. 

With each chapter he invites the reader to analyze who they are, what they love, and what career they want to pursue. 

The last portion of the book is about the point of mastery. Once we’ve decided what to master, how do we master it and why? It’s about mastering your one thing. Once you’ve decided what you want to master, how do you do it?

The last part of the book gives many good suggestions that are easily transferable into our lives (like finding a mentor) and include several challenging insights to us as believers (such as “mastering” our witness). 

There are two kinds of great books in this world: the page turners and the brain turners. Raynor’s is definitely the second. 

Since this book was exactly what I needed to help me decipher what I want to do with my work life, I read it very slowly. The questions he poses and ideas he has are so compelling, I genuinely had to stop and simply sit and think and think and think. 

There is perhaps nothing I love more about a good book than its ability to make me think deeply. Master of One did that so much and so often, I hope I can thank the author one day.

I am a 31-year-old stay-at-home mom to three growing kids and a pastor’s wife. Picking up this book at this moment in my life seemed God-ordained. After having my eldest after only two years out of college, and choosing to end my career to stay home full time, we’ve reached a place as a family where it’s time for me to go back to work. 

Deciding on a career path at my age is different than when I entered college. I now spend a lot of time pondering what would be best for my family, what would bring God the most glory in my life, and what I can master. 

An interesting point to this book, perhaps surprisingly, is all of the theological meat there is to chew on. Raynor is himself an entrepreneur, not a theologian. I was regularly taken back by how much theology I had to mull over as I read Master of One

The concept of pursuing excellence in work can be dangerous. It can edge desperately close to a worldly pursuit, a fixation on work and wealth and fame that causes us to neglect our souls, our families, and ultimately our God. I was skeptical at first. I was happy to discover that Raynor doesn’t go over the edge. 

His theology in this is sound: we work with all our hearts to bring glory to God and witness to the world. We don’t achieve mastery by neglecting our spouses or families, and we don’t glorify God to pursue excellence as the world pursues excellence. 

We become the best chef or pastor or electrician or educator we can be because God has called us to be excellent and joyful and loving in all our pursuits. 

That is exactly why Raynor calls us to mastery: only by finding our one thing can we give it the excellence God asks of us. 

I would highly recommend reading this book. It provided me with so much guidance on how to find my one thing. It even helped me decide what my one thing is. It provided me with the biblical ideas I need to use that one thing for God’s glory and the pursuit of his mission of making himself known and praised in the world. 

To quote Raynor himself in closing: “Following Christ means viewing our entire lives (including our work) as service to God and others rather than as a means of getting something from this world.” 

Read this book, and then go out and “work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…” -Colossians 3:23

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