Book Report: Start

Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average, and Do Work That Matters by Jon Acuff

Sometimes you need a friend whispering gentle encouragement into your fragile places. Jon is not that friend—he’s more a passionate (and hilarious) personal trainer whose mission is to help you get the workout of your life … and like it. Start is a punchy book designed to inspire readers away from the status quo, and it aims at nothing short of awesome. In case that sounds like a goal for only the most intense go-getters among us, don’t worry: “Awesome starts the moment you do what you love.” Jon provides a map out of safety and mediocrity, into the fullness of God’s intent for your life. If you’ve been searching for a jolt of energy to fuel a dormant dream, look no further. The kingdom is waiting for you to show up. All you have to do is start.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

Every big finish began with a small start.

Age is no longer the primary factor that determines where you are on the map. Life is now less about how old you are and more about when you decide to live.

Stories without dragons are boring.

Always play to the size of your heart, not to the size of your audience. Awesome doesn’t let the crowd determine the size of the performance.

Intentions are ambitious liars.

People are mistaken when they think chasing your dream is a selfish thing to do. As if perhaps being average is an act of humility. As if perhaps wasting the talents you were given is proof that you’re a considerate individual. It’s not.

We’re going to edit the unnecessary pieces of marble around us and then hustle in the right direction.

My biggest takeaway from this book was Jon’s perspective on life purpose:

I’m not a fan of “finding your purpose.” I’m a fan of “living with purpose.”

I can’t tell you how much time I’ve invested into trying to figure out why God wants me walking this plot of earth at this moment in history. And while intentionality is biblical, there’s a dark side to the relentless hunt for meaning: “Waiting to find your purpose tomorrow is a great way to ensure you don’t live with purpose today.” Jon pokes holes in the theory that we each have one big secret thing we must discover and execute in order to be significant. The alternative is a continual process of exploring and experimenting. This is a little more (okay, a lot more) fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants faith than comes naturally to me, but when I let the pressure to unearth my purpose fall away, I find God waiting there, ready to walk with me into whatever He has planned next.

Journaling questions include:

  • What are my options? Which gives me the most joy?
  • If I died today, what would I regret not being able to do?
  • How can I get comfortable with tension—to be a realist and a dreamer?
  • Where do I need to give myself copious amounts of grace?
  • When it comes to internal fear and doubt, what do my voices tell me?
  • How have I been trying to validate my dreams?
  • What would I love to start doing? What can I not stop doing?
  • Where have I become an emotional hoarder, storing up anger and bitterness?
  • Who is my secret self, the person I’ve always dreamed of being deep down but have been afraid to be?
  • Have I been calling the right things diamonds and the right things rocks? (What’s getting my best, and what’s getting the rest?)

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