by Paul Valler, reviewed by Sally Orwin
Paul Valler describes his mission as ‘helping people to make the right choices’.
His own career has involved some interesting changes of direction: formerly Finance and Human Resources Director of Hewlett Packard, he now leads a portfolio lifestyle including a role as Associate Speaker on faith and work for the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity. In his book, Get a Life, he presents his reflections on how individual choices have the potential to lead us into the shalom that God intends for us.
Valler uses the contemporary vocabulary and concepts of the psychologist and the manager to frame the problem. He explains how the malaise of his own life was challenged when he was ‘forced to get to grips with the tension between three key dimensions of my life: who I was (identity), why I was here (purpose), and what I should do (choices)’ (p.17). In an ‘alwayson’ world (p16) we become ‘tired, trapped and troubled’ by our lack of awareness of who we are and why we are here, resulting in a life of fragmentation as opposed to integration.
In three parts to the book he addresses these three dimensions in ‘bite-sized’ chapters. He adopts this style in order to meet the stressed and time-pressured worker at their point of need: grabbing a sandwich at lunchtime, or the half hour spent on the daily commute. He is frank about drawing on his experience as a professional man working in the world of corporate business, but he includes anecdotal snapshots of individuals with whom most readers will identify. His suggestions and application of scriptural insight will resonate with the experience of men and women of all ages and circumstances. He addresses what lies at the heart of our discontent, namely ‘worshipping our own little ‘gods’ of money, work, property, status, popularity, sex, our children, another person, our self-interests’. Our attention and passion is diverted and we fail to stay focused on the true and living God (p.25).
In part 1, Living Authentically, Valler offers practical suggestions towards living with an ‘authentic, open and consistent Christian identity’ (p39). It is not until we recognise we have a problem that we can begin to frame the solution. The route to integration lies in understanding and living out our identity as those redeemed for a new life in Christ. Seeking identity in the fickle world of work creates anxiety and deception when we hide our identity as Christians at work. Instead, Valler encourages us to stay connected in a community of believers who can help us face…