Mere Christians

John Eldredge (Author of Wild at Heart)

Episode Summary

Risk is right

Episode Notes

Jordan Raynor sits down with John Eldredge, Author of Wild at Heart, to talk about his work as a janitor for four years, why “the humility of emulation” is so crucial for mastering your craft, and the unique resources Christians have to take wild risks.

Links Mentioned:

Episode Transcription

[00:00:04] JR: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Call to Mastery. I’m Jordan Raynor. This is a podcast for Christians who want to do their most exceptional work for the glory of God and the good of others. Each week, I host a conversation with a Christian who is pursuing world-class mastery of their vocations. We talk about their path to mastery, their daily habits, and how their faith influences their work.


Today’s guest needs no introduction, but I’m going to give him one anyways. We’re talking with John Eldredge today. He’s the New York Times best-selling author of mammoth books like Get Your Life Back, Captivating and of course Wild at Heart. As I’m sure you guys have figured out by now, I try to find three-ish things to talk about, that we talk about in the episode. I’ve got like 20 things that I wanted to mention here, but I’ll limit myself. John and I, we talked about his work as a janitor for four years, early in his career. I’ve been looking for a janitor to talk to about how their faith influences their work and I found one in John Eldredge. We talked about why the humility of emulation is so crucial when it comes to mastering your craft. We talked about the unique resources that Christ followers have that enable us to take wild risks, to take big swings at work and in life. This is a gem of an episode with my new friend, John Eldredge.




[00:01:46] JR: Hey, John. Thanks for being here.


[00:01:48] JE: You’re welcome. Glad to be on the show.


[00:01:51] JR: So I read in your bio, you’re a big George MacDonald fan, which I love. One of my favorite C.S. Lewis’ stories is the origin story of him and George MacDonald. I’m curious, what’s yours? How did you come to it to know and love George MacDonald as a writer?


[00:02:07] JE: That is a great question. I think it was the kindness of a colleague of mine who gave me a little book by MacDonald called Diary of an Old Soul. It’s a simple little paperback, it’s actually like 365 days a year sort of reading kind of thing. It was a brilliant introduction and then I just started devouring him. I’m like, “Well! I need to know more about this guy. His heart is amazing. His life in God is amazing and I want to know more.”


[00:02:38] JR: Yeah. I haven’t read that one. I gotta go check that out. I’ve read Phantastes, which is the book that kind of opened Lewis’ eyes to faith, even though it didn’t explicitly mention it. But yeah, I gotta go read that one. That’s a great answer. John, this year, 20th anniversary of Wild at Heart, is that right?


[00:02:55] JE: Oh, yeah.


[00:02:55] JR: It’s amazing. Can’t believe it’s been 20 years. I read it when I was a teenager. I loved it. I assume you’re known as like the John Eldredge pre and post Wild at Heart. I’m curious, what’s the John Eldredge story prior to the book, like what’s your professional background before writing that first title?


[00:03:14] JE: Got my undergraduate degree in theater, grew up in Los Angeles, loved the stage, ran a theater company in LA in my 20s with a great group of people, loved it. Thought that that would be my life, thought that would be my career. But theater is a jealous mistress. It demands a ridiculous amount of your life. For me, I couldn’t do that and have a healthy marriage, have a family. I know some people can, some people pull that off, but it was really damaging my marriage because I was just gone. I was gone so much and so I gave it up.


Instead, people and story have always been core to who I am so I went and I got a graduate degree as a therapist, became a counselor. It was through my work with men in my 30s that I began to develop the themes around Wild at Heart, began to see some really common things about the masculine soul and the struggles that guys have. So I began to teach on that, and do workshops on that. Out of that came Wild at Heart and it helped a lot of guys.


[00:04:32] JR: That’s a hard call to walk away from something like theater that you love. I mean, you’ve got a degree in theater. To walk away from that, that must have been really challenging. What did that decision-making process look like for you? Was that an easy call? Like once you realized it was hurting your family, how did you work that out?


[00:04:51] JE: No, it was heartbreaking. It was super difficult. You hit these crisis moments in your life and when you look back on them, they have more clarity than when you’re in them.


[00:05:02] JR: Yeah, sure.


[00:05:03] JE: Hindsight is 20/20. Here’s a fascinating analogy. When your teenage children are getting ready to leave the house and they’re maybe going to go off to college, or the military, or into a career. I’ve noticed this again as a therapist over and over and over again, the relationship begins to sour. I think that God does it for the child and for the parent. You reach a place where you say, “You know what? What we have had has been really good, your life here in our home, but it is really time for you to go.” If you understand it for what it is, it doesn’t need to be wounding, it’s not betrayal, it’s just, things get bumpy, they get a little sour, because God is preparing each of you for the next transition.


That’s exactly what happened to me in theater. I loved it. I was great at it. We were successful, we were growing, but there were some relationships that went sour. There was just something that began to shift in my heart that enabled me to say, “You know what? I don’t think this is my future.”


[00:06:10] JR: That’s fascinating. But God used those gifts, those skills, that experience certainly in the work you’re doing now. You’re still a storyteller.


[00:06:18] JE: Exactly.


[00:06:18] JR: At heart. I think you’ve accomplished what a lot of writers dream of accomplishing. Books that don’t just launch well, but that sell forever. You’ve got a bunch of those that are just perennial sellers: Wild at Heart, Captivating. I’m curious if you think there is a formula or a checklist of must haves to a book that just sells, and sells, and sells for years and years.


[00:06:45] JE: Well, that is a huge question.


[00:06:48] JR: That’s why I ask it of almost every writer I have on the show, I have to know.


[00:06:454] JE: I want to say a few things about that, but I think what I want to say first is, are you called to this? Because there’s a lot of people that want to be writers, they may even have a gifting to write, but it isn’t their calling. That is the more core issue. The poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, the Jesuit poet said, “What I do is me. For this I came.” That’s the goal of every human life, whether it’s parenting a child or being a friend, or being an entrepreneur, being a painter; you have to live more and more into your destiny, into your calling.


Desire is not the only indicator of that. It’s not the only confirmation of that. So yeah, we can talk good content, a good book. I would say, the main thing is, make sure that you have lived it before you teach it. The world doesn’t need more theory. The world has enough theory. What the world needs are people who have discovered the path —


[00:08:09] JR: And lived it.


[00:08:10] JE: Yeah, they’ve walked enough on the path that they’re now able to share their notes with others.


[00:08:18] JR: Go back for a second. You talked about desire, some people might use a synonym of passion, as kind of a signpost to calling. What do you think is the most critical component for people still trying to figure out what’s that thing that they can really sink their teeth into vocationally? What are the other pointers? Maybe the most important pointers for them to be looking at.


[00:08:41] JE: Well, first off, let’s separate calling and vocation, because some people get to do what they love and are made to do for a living, but they tend to be the minority, and that’s okay. My very first job was as a janitor. To be honest, I loved it and I worked with a great group of guys. We would crack each other up as we were vacuuming buildings and stuff, but let’s separate those things because that’s where people get really confused. If I’m going to fulfill my passions, my dreams, my gift, it has to be my career. The world is very broken, the world doesn’t necessarily work that way.


The famous example being St. Paul, who was a tent maker by day. He was just sewing fabric and leather. Then in the evenings, on the weekends, he was doing what he was really made to do. You gotta separate that and then you were asking, what are some of the other indicators. You gotta be good at it or you gotta be able to develop competency at it. You may not start out as a gifted painter, but you need to have the ability to grow into it.


Then there is the affirmation of others. If people who experience you being you go, “Wow! That’s really good stuff.”


[00:10:06] JR: Like this is who you were designed and created to be.


[00:10:08] JE: Yeah, “I love coming to your house to eat,” or “I love it when you read to us some of the things you’ve just written,” or, “Man, the way you taught that basketball camp, that was killer. Did you see how those kids responded to you? We haven’t had anybody like that all summer. That was really unique, what you brought there.” I think the affirmation of others is huge, but then let’s bring God into this. What is your conversation with God telling you about all this? I ask that to expose, are you having a conversation with God about all this?


[00:10:52] JR: Yeah, that’s exactly right. It’s kind of the path I outlined in my last book, Master of One. It starts with prayer, just asking the lord boldly, “Show me clearly where I can best love my neighbor as myself through my work.” And then, yeah, it’s just finding — we talk a lot on the podcast about, we call it, the ministry of excellence. Like we’re can you serve most exceptionally well in service of others? It’s not being the best, it’s not about success. It’s about service. To your point, listening to what others are saying and speaking to you, saying, “Man, you are really great at X, Y or Z.” That’s probably the best way to figure that out. Not you judging yourself, but hearing what others have to say about how you’re serving them well, and maybe not so well.


You mastered the craft of writing clearly. I’m curious what you think are the keys to mastery that you’ve learned to master a craft that’s applicable to any vocation, not just writers, right? You were a janitor, you were in the theater, now you’re writing and teaching. What are the common things, like, this is critical to mastering, the pursuit of mastery of anything vocationally?


[00:12:06] JE: You have to love it or you won’t be able to hang in through the discipline of it. That is key. It has to bring you joy. Lewis famously said, “I write the kind of books that I would like to read.” That’s just crucial. You have to love it in order to endure what we would call the initiation period. Everybody goes through an initiation journey, where it’s the setbacks, the trials, the disappointments. It’s the hard work, it’s the blood, sweat and tears. If you don’t love it, you won’t stay. You won’t stay for the class, right? You drop out. I would also say humility, what I want to call it is the humility of emulation.


[00:12:52] JR: What do you mean by that?


[00:12:53] JE: Early in my writing career, when I would sit down to write in the morning, I would do a couple things. One of the first things I would do is I would pull a book off the shelf of a writer whose writing I love. I would just open it up to any page, so I’m not looking for content, I’m looking for the experience. I’m looking for the reminder, what is good writing like? I would open up a C.S. Lewis, and Anne Lamott, a G.K. Chesterton, a Frederick Buechner, authors that I particularly think are really great writers. I would just read their stuff to emulate. You get into the rhythm, the cadence.


If you’re going to learn martial arts for example, you want to learn Jujitsu. You go to a dojo, you sign up. What you primarily do is you copy the movements of the instructor for a while. You do the really basic things. Spread your legs like this, step forward like this, raise your arm like this and you're imitating. It’s how babies learn language. It’s how we learn anything in life. We are imitative creatures. Who are you imitating, and do you have the humility to emulate them?


[00:14:09] JR: Yeah. It’s the humility of apprenticing yourself to somebody, either directly or indirectly. I mean, I think what you’re describing is what I’ve called an indirect apprenticeship. Lewis never gave you direct one-on-one feedback, but you could open up Mere Christianity, or Surprised by Joy and humble yourself, apprentice yourself to his style. I love that. When you’re studying, do you still do that? How are you putting more weight on the bar today? You talked about early on in your career. What are you doing now to get better?


[00:14:44] JE: Well, I have a unique line of writing. I’m writing about the inner life. I’m writing about the life of the soul. I’m writing about the life with God. What I have to do is more thoroughly, honestly engage my inner life and my life with God and my maturing in those areas. Because otherwise I’m just repeating old stuff, or I’m faking it, or I’m parroting what somebody else said. Here’s the really dangerous task, you can’t write for what’s popular. Because by the time you get your book out, it won’t be popular anymore.


[00:15:32] JR: Right. You opened up a great transition because I love talking about habits, routines of our guests. For you, what are those routines, in terms of spiritual disciplines, where you’re trying to listen to your soul and converse with the Lord. What does that look like for you?


[00:15:49] JE: Well, let’s first put it in a context. I think that the human journey is a life that is more deeply connected to God. The fruit of which is wholeheartedness. We’re broken human beings, all of us, and our interior world is a mess. Some of that’s from wounding, some of it’s from disappointment, grief, heart break, just the chronic boredom of life. We are not wholehearted, and so the context of what I want to say is, there’s knowledge and then there’s restoration. They’re not the same thing. You can pursue all kinds of theology and understanding. You can pursue psychology and understanding, but it’s not the same thing as restoration.


Restoration is where you are engaging the recovery of your own soul as you study, live, pray, listen to God, et cetera. You see what I mean? The context is so important. Having said that, I think I have a constant guide and the guide obviously is the Holy Spirit, but the guide is also my own soul. Where is God working in my life currently, what we working on and am I being intentional about that?


Fascinating story. A couple of years ago, my wife and I were in Ireland and it’s our heritage, we’re both mostly like 80% Irish. We felt a very deep connection to the country, a very deep connection to the land. While we were there, God began to bring up things in me having to do with my relationship with my mother who is pure Irish. They were wounding, they were mother deprivation. She left my life for her career when I was very young. She was still technically my mother but I have no memories of her playing with me. I have no memories of her reading a book to me because she put her career first. It was fascinating, God waited until I was in Ireland to bring this up and it opened up this whole journey of mother, understanding the mother wound, understanding the role of attachment. I wondered why in so many of my relationships in my life, I was a very unattached person and then I discovered it. God showed me an example. It’s an example of God will orchestrate if you will listen. He’s bringing things up, usually through the things that are not working in our lives.


What does my daily routine look like? That involves journaling. Journaling is super important. It involves prayer, it involves study of some kind. I’m reading, I’m listening to podcasts. But it also always involves nature. Nature is super healing to the human soul. I think nature is a great teacher. So being in the natural world, letting the natural world impact me. Then I would add a very surprising discipline and it’s the discipline of beauty. I am a beauty fanatic.


[00:19:24] JR: I love that.


[00:19:26] JE: I think beauty is critical. I remember Edith Schaeffer, Francis Schaeffer’s wife said once, she said, “We must not only be true. We must be beautiful.”


[00:19:38] JR: That makes sense coming from the Schaeffer’s writing about heart and the church, yeah.


[00:19:45] JE: Yeah. He was all about truth, and she brought him the beauty side of things. Beautiful music, beautiful art, poetry, beauty in my life, letting beauty do its healing work, letting it shape my understanding of the world, and then it’s back to my writing. I don’t want to just say things that are true, I want to say them beautifully.


[00:20:06] JR: What does your life look like when there’s this absence of beauty? What’s the effect of an absence of beauty in your life? And the follow-up question to that is, how do you cultivate the discipline of beauty?


[00:20:20] JE: This is so important, given the world that we’re living in right now. Because all of us are coming through a year of global trauma, everyone is traumatized from what we’ve been living through. It’s been very brutal on the human soul, regardless of whether you’re still in lockdowns or not, or whether you’ve got your job back or not, and whatever. To live in a world of such unbelievable instability and bad news is very hard on the human soul. The pursuit of beauty wasn’t intended to be the topic of the podcast, but it’s critical for the moment that we’re in because beauty is so important to healing trauma.


You asked, “What are the symptoms when there’s not beauty in my life?” Drinking and eating. It’s self-soothing behaviors. I notice that my false comforters have more power in my life because I’m looking to replace the soothing, healing effect of beauty with something like tons of chocolate, too much wine, that sort of thing. Those are the symptoms. The discipline of beauty, this is the really cool thing, I wrote about this in my latest book, because I found it so helpful. It’s a book called Get Your Life Back, about the discipline of beauty, because it’s free. Most of it is free.


[00:21:42] JR: Breaking news, beauty comes free, yeah.


[00:21:45] JE: We don’t stop to appreciate it. So, it’s the frost on your windshield, it’s the sound of rain on the roof. It’s beautiful music, it’s imagery, it’s the way water reflects sunlight onto the wall of your patio, and it’s stopping and letting it into your soul. Because most people notice it, most people go, “Oh wow! That a really pretty sunrise this morning,” and then they just —.” It is a two-second observation, but they don’t stop to let it into their soul. There’s a discipline of pausing.


I mentioned the way water reflects sunlight. We have a little water feature on our front porch. It’s a small little thing, but it was doing these fascinating reflections the other day. It was my joy for the day. I just stopped and went, “What? Look at that. That is fantastic.” I just let it do its thing. I just beheld it and I could feel it bringing joy, I could feel it healing the tension of the day. It happened to be at the end of the day, so I was coming home all spun up and stressed out from the day. There’s kind of like a practice of, where is your daily beauty?


[00:23:05] JR: It’s a practice of a lack of hurry, which is Dallas Willard or [inaudible 00:23:10] have written a lot about, in order to appreciate beauty. Yeah, it’s really well said. John, a big part of this podcast is talking about how the faith of our guests influences the work they do in the world. For you today, that’s like super overt, this is what you’re writing about. But go back to when you were a janitor.


[00:23:31] JE: I want to go back to that, but maybe not, because the greatest danger is the professional Christians.


[00:23:40] JR: Yeah. I’ve been thinking about and journaling a lot about this lately. Yeah, talk about this.


[00:23:46] JE: That’s dangerous stuff. How my faith affects my work is really simple questions, like, “Why am I doing this still? Am I doing it for the money? Am I doing it because people praise me? Am I doing it because I’m afraid I will lose my popularity?” Those are really jacked reasons, but I have to wrestle with that stuff, let’s be honest. The life of the “professional Christian” whether they’re a priest, or pastor, or worship leader or writer like me. Man, you got to be really careful. “Why am I doing this and why am I writing?”


Anecdotally for example, I wrote a book in 2018, it came out in 2020, Get Your Life Back. In the spring of last year when the pandemic was rolling across the world, I did 100 interviews for this book. It was absolutely exhausting. I got into the summer, and in the writing cycle, I was supposed to be working on another manuscript, kind of just in the way that my relationship works with my publisher. I knew I couldn’t do it. I knew it was untrue, unkind, unfair to my soul and I would be faking it, so I didn’t do it. It messed things up and I called my publisher and said, “I’m sorry. It’s not going to happen.”


I knew, “People are going to be angry at me, they’re going to be disappointed with me. I’m not going to get the paycheck I was hoping for from this”, but I couldn’t do it. Like there was just a dishonesty. I had to admit that my soul was not well. It was not ready to just jump back into the next project. Those are examples of how my faith affects my work in the world.


[00:25:42] JR: Go back to when you were a janitor though. It’s funny. We have people from a bunch of different vocations on the podcast. We’ve had doctors, entrepreneurs, writers, whatever. I’ve actually been looking for a janitor, seriously, who loves Jesus and just talk about like how to do that as unto the Lord. I’m curious, were you walking with the Lord at that time? Were you not? And if you were, like how did you think about that?


[00:26:05] JE: I was walking with the Lord at that time. This is a fascinating thing. Most pastors actually started somewhere in their life working for the church as the janitor.


[00:26:21] JR: I’ve never heard anybody say this. I love this.


[00:26:24] JE: Well, it’s really good, it’s really good. Because if you’re not willing to do that, you shouldn’t be entrusted with pulpit. I love the idea of simple work and here’s why. I’m a big, big believer in the masculine journey of initiation. I think boys become men through a process, only through a process of initiation. It has different stages to it, but simple, hard work is irreplaceable to the masculine journey. Young men who go straight from education into, for example, technology are missing a critical development of the soul through hard work: painting houses, washing cars, cleaning, like we were doing, janitorial work, digging holes, doing lawn care. There is something about the simplicity and the realities of hard work that not only nourish the masculine soul, but there’s so much training involved.


For example, one of the simple pieces of training is, there’s no shortcut. Like if we would shortcut a building, we’d get a phone call. You don’t get away with that. It’s really good for a young man to learn that lesson. I actually enjoyed it immensely and I did it, oh my goodness, I think I did it for four years in my 20s. I was sad to leave it. That’s how much I enjoyed it.


[00:28:00] JR: Yeah, it’s good. It’s good, meaningful work.


[00:28:05] JE: Yes, it does.


[00:28:06] JR: It’s ministry in its most basic form. Ministry is a service, right? Talk about a serving role. One of the things I remember most about Wild at Heart and something that’s stayed with me throughout the years is just this call to risk, to take big swings as I like to say. I think it’s so rare in our culture today. I think it’s rare in the church also today. Why do you think that is, that we’re just risking less?


[00:28:33] JE: Well, oh my goodness. Let me name two things. One is the comfort culture. Because we’ve all been living in this, we’re not even aware of it. But our hour on the planet has achieved a level of comfort in the developed world that is just staggering. I mean, you can do all your banking on your phone. You can buy a house from your phone. You can have your groceries delivered. You can get on Amazon and have Whole Foods deliver your groceries to your house. You don’t have to make your own meals. You don’t have to wash your own car.


The level of convenience in our world in which everything has been made simpler, and simpler, and easier and easier, atrophies human soul. One of the effects of that is, we don’t want anything to be hard anymore. We don’t see the goodness in hardness, and so risk taking, why? With a couple of clicks, I’ll just get that thing taken care of, right? That’s one reason, but there’s a deeper reason.


The deeper reason is this, that in the Christian world, we have lost the fundamental reality of following God. We learn about God, we sing songs to God, we repeat very beautiful credo things about God to God, we observe the sacraments, et cetera, but that is not the same thing. If you look at the scriptures, Old and New Testament, risk-taking is the number one reality, because what you’re getting is a record of people who were following God.


When you allow him to literally speak to you personally, speak to you and call to you, say things to you, shape your values, shape your decision making, you follow God. He has the ability if you give him permission to speak into your career, your relationships, your plans, the vacations that you choose to do. That is the most thrilling human life available, but it is filled with risk taking, filled with it almost daily and we don’t teach that in the church. This is hardly taught, that this is the Christian life.


[00:31:07] JR: You see it all through scripture, right? It’s like, “Hey, Abraham! Leave your home. I’m not going to tell you where to go.” I think about it every time I read the gospels. And Jesus walks up to these fishermen and he’s like, “Follow me,” and they do. I’m like, “What?” But it’s God speaking to them. I think they just know that deep in their souls, even though they’re not articulating it in that moment. It’s like, “No, this is risky.” What unique resources — I talk a lot about, you know, Christ followers should be known as the boldest people on the planet. Because at the end of the day, we have the gospel, the hope of the gospel regardless of success or failure. But what are the resources do you think are unique to the church that enable us to risk boldly in our work and just our lives in general?


[00:31:56] JE: First off is the very unique resource of cultivating, hearing the voice of God. You are meant to hear God speak to you on a regular basis. That’s normal, it’s meant to be normative and it’s something that you can learn to do, just like you learn to drive a car or you learn to read a book. That resource is extraordinary and unique to Christianity. You can’t get that anywhere else.

But you also have, oh my goodness, you have Psalm 23. You prepare a table before me. My cup runneth over. You have the assurance that you will be cared for. Because if you are able to move out of the fundamental human urge to self-preservation, and if you are not aware how much this is driving your life, you need to ask some honest questions, because that drive to self-preservation, self-protection in relationships, self-securing in your career, all that. When you can be freed from that, or not entirely free, that sets a pretty high bar. When you are living with a high level of confidence that you’re going to be cared for, that changes your ability to make good decisions. It’s going to change your marriage if you’re married. It’s going to change your parenting, it’s going to change your friendships. It allows you a level of clarity of what God is up to, of what love looks like. I think those are two are pretty fundamental resources.


[00:33:43] JR: Those are pretty fundamental for sure, and you’re alluding to the promise of [inaudible 00:33:47] 28 that we have the security and regardless of the results of that risk, we know that God is working everything for our good. It doesn’t necessarily mean good by our standard, but for the good that he has in store for us, for our sanctification and for his great glory. I mentioned before we started recording, I think my favorite book of yours is All Things New, I loved it. It’s just kind of dispelling this myth of the Western caricature of heaven and outlining what’s actually in store for us in a new heavens and a new earth.


Just briefly, I’m curious to get your take on how the promise of the new heavens and the new earth should shape our work, what we do, how we do it in the world today?


[00:34:35] JE: Well, it’s such a beautiful question. Because the reality is not well known, let me just say it very simply. You will not spend eternity in heaven. You will spend eternity here on the earth that you love in a restored condition. Your humanity will be completely restored and the earth will be completely restored. The project that God sabotaged in Eden is resumed. We are the partners of God, carrying out all of our vocation, the fullness of our vocation. Architecture, agriculture, artistry, painting, music, all of it will be carried out. The assurance that your life is going to work out and work out beautifully is a pretty fundamental assurance. It takes the pressure off the current moment to come through because most people will not realize their calling in this life. None of us will fully, not even close.

But even in the ways that people typically talk about, “I always wanted to be a pediatrician” or “I always wished I could have been a long-distance runner.” Most people will not fulfill those things in this life. They are still elementary school teacher and never got to med school, et cetera. But you will, you will, you will fulfill every bit of your unique destiny. The assurance of that, it takes the pressure off the current moment. The promise of the new heavens and the new earth, the coming together of heaven and earth that John sees in Revelation 21, where the new Jerusalem comes to the earth. We don’t go up there, it comes down here. It says, “Now, the dwelling of God is with men.” It gives us a new orientation to this life, that instead of saying, “I have to fulfill all of my potential in this life,” it changes the question to, “Father, what are we doing now? What are we doing now?”


A great deal of our life, to quote Dallas Willard, he said, “We are in training for raining.” Adam and Eve were designed, men and women were designed to govern the created order with God, through God, by God and we lost a great deal of that. You see it in all the brokenness in the world. You see it in the brokenness of politics, and economics, and education. We don’t know how to partner with God to bring about human flourishing, but we will. In the meantime, we’re in a kind of training. Even back to — we are talking at the very beginning about the spiritual writer has to be aware of their internal world and what God is doing. I don’t go on a witch hunt. What I ask is, “Father, where are we working right now? What are you teaching me? What are you growing me into?”


Whether you are cleaning toilets or selling bonds, whether you are writing your first manuscript or leading kids on nature hikes, you’re doing it in a larger story that God is training you for your ultimate role in his kingdom.


[00:38:06] JR: Amen. Anytime I hear people lamenting about that disconnect between who they believe God’s designed them to be and the work they do today, I tell them, “Hey! You can lament with hope. Go read Isaiah 65. We’re going to be working forever on the new earth and go read All Things New by John Eldredge.” Speaking of books, John, three questions we wrap up every conversation with. Number one, which books on the whole, and I know this is different from person-to-person, but on the whole, which books do you recommend or gift most frequently to others? What are your go-to recommendations?


[00:38:40] JE: I’m looking at a pile from a floor in my office.


[00:38:44] JR: Me too.


[00:38:45] JE: You know what, I would say, The Chronicles of Narnia. I mean, these are gifts to adults not to children, because story, and allegory, and heroism are so critical to the human soul.


[00:39:03] JR: I love that answer. Who would you most like to hear on this podcast talking about how their faith influences their work maybe in a non-obvious way?


[00:39:14] JE: I’d love to hear Mel Gibson.


[00:39:15] JR: That’s a great answer. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Mel Gibson as an answer. That’s a terrific answer.


[00:39:19] JE: He’s a fascinating guy.


[00:39:21] JR: Yeah, for sure. I like that a lot. All right, last question. You’ve already given a lot of great advice, but you’re talking to an audience of people across a bunch of different vocations, what they share is a love of Christ and a desire to do great work that serves others well. What do you want to leave them with, John?


[00:39:40] JE: You must, you must, you must develop your abilities to hear the voice of God, because there’s no substitute for it in this life. You have too many questions, there’s too many wrinkles to the story, there’s too many unique challenges that any person faces. You can’t master enough principles. You have to have a conversational relationship with God. This is true for any parent, because kids are so different. I mean, it’s just true across the board.

So Dallas Willard has a great book called Hearing God, Liam Payne. I wrote a book called Walking with God, I’m learning to hear the voice of God. Read something, develop that skill again because it will be the number one skill you will use for the rest of your life.


[00:40:32] JR: I couldn’t agree more. Hey, John, I just want to commend you for the important, redemptive work you do and have been doing for so many years, for helping us recover who God created us to be, and just reminding us that risk and following God day by day is really the essence of the Christian life in a way. You guys know John’s books, you can find all of them at


By the way, John. You just released a new edition of Wild at Heart, right?


[00:40:59] JE: Yeah, and we’ve got this new killer experience for men and women. Even during the pandemic last year, we were able to get out and film these gorgeous new films. Really honest, really vulnerable beautiful storytelling. They’re free on our website at


[00:41:18] JR: I love it. John, thank you so much for joining us today.


[00:41:21] JE: Yeah, man. Thanks for having me.




[00:41:25] JR: Man, I love that episode so much. Hey! If you’re enjoying the podcast, make sure you subscribe so you never miss an episode in the future. If you’re already subscribed, you know what I’m going to ask you to do. Take 10 seconds, go open Apple Podcasts and just rate the podcast on a one-to-five-star scale. Hopefully to the upper end of that spectrum. I don’t even need you to write a review. If you do, bonus points for you. But just rate the podcast. You have no idea how helpful those ratings are in helping us land big guests, big names like John Eldredge who was on the podcast today. I can’t believe it. Hope you guys loved the episode. Thank you for tuning in. I’ll see you next week.