Have you ever been in the middle of a conversation with someone, trying to listen to what is being shared with you but all the while rehearsing your to do list or that argument that wasn’t settled between you and your friend the night before? Have you recently gone through something life-shattering, maybe a divorce or a job change or a diagnosis or anything of the like, and you don’t know where to start in making sense of it all? Or maybe you’d just like to find a rhythm to the daily madness that everybody calls life. All of these topics and many, many more are covered by Rob Bell in his most recent book, How to Be Here.
Now I’ll admit from the onset that I’m much like you are when a book proudly stamps Rob Bell as the author. From his Oprah-friendly message that claims God is rooting for us to his tour de The Rob Bell Show — and everything in between — Rob Bell has been on a whirl-wind journey to creatively influence the world spiritually (which is what he alludes to being his sole mission in How to Be Here). I didn’t know what to expect from this book and, honestly, I didn’t know where he’d take his readers.
I was pleasantly surprised.
There is no use in walking through the table of contents or even the different sections of the book because it reads much like a conversation you’d have or lecture you’d listen to from this master communicator. What I mean is that it is like he continually throws paint at a blank canvas until you start to see the full picture come into place (much like one of those speed painters who flip the picture upside-down at the end and you realize that a detailed picture of Frank Sinatra was being created, one quick stroke after another). Bell uses a personal experience intermixed with spiritual truths (both the Christian Church and her neighbors) to discuss what it means to slow down and focus on the now so that you can be as effective as you were meant to be in your work.
Unlike a book like Tim Challie’s Do More Better, which is super practical and opens with a strong Biblical interpretation the theology work, Bell opens with a similar appeal to Genesis 1 but uses the rest of the book discuss matters of philosophy, relationships, spirituality, and whatever else he felt like writing about that day. 🙂
In all seriousness, I believe the book is meant for two things:
Help answer the question of ‘What are my dreams and how do I use these passions of mine, even if my passions seem mundane like being a mom?’
Once readers start to develop an answer to those points, Bell wants to inspire his readers to live according to their dreams and be present in the moment (he gets really practical at the close of the book).
While this book is continuing Bell’s move away from the obvious Christian teaching, like we’ve seen from him in pastoring a church or even his Nooma videos, I believe Bell accomplished his goal of showing “us how to pursue and realize our dreams, live in the moment, and joyfully do the things that make us come alive.”
Each of us was created for something great—we just need to figure out what it is and find the courage to do it. Whether it’s writing the next great American novel, starting a business, or joining a band, Rob Bell wants to help us make those dreams become reality. Our path is ours and ours alone to pursue, he reminds us, and in doing so, we derive great joy because we are living our passions.
How to Be Here lays out concrete steps we can use to define and follow our dreams, interweaving engaging stories, lessons from biblical figures, insights gleaned from Rob’s personal experience, and practical advice. Rob gives you the support and insight you need to silence your critics, move from idea to action, take the first step, find joy in the work, persevere through hard times, and surrender to the outcome.
Like Stephen Pressfield’s classic The War of Art, How to Be Here will inspire readers to seek the lives they were created to lead.
Creative leader with education in Biblical Exegesis and a passion to see lives renewed by the Gospel.
I studied at Malone University (B.A.) and Wheaton College Graduate School (Biblical Exegesis, M.A.). By day, I work as the Manager of Social Engagement at a local marketing agency called Sanctuary Marketing Group.