Book Review: Teach Us to Want by Jen Pollock Michel

teach us to want

As a Christian woman living out God’s calling on my life, what do I do with ambition? Is it something to be mistrusted, considered selfish, and just dismissed? And what about desire? How does it fit in my life when I am called to deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Jesus (Matt. 16:24)? Could there be some godly desires and longings that God may have set in my heart in order to lead me to things he has for me? How do I discern what desires might be from God to be shaped and redeemed and used, and which ones truly are selfish and need to be set aside?

What do we make of a verse like Psalm 37:4? “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” As we delight in him, won’t we discover that HE is our ultimate desire and other things will fade in comparison as he satisfies the human heart. Yes, this is true. Could there though also be other desires that he fulfills, too?

These are some of the recent questions I have contemplated. After reading several books from the perspective of “calling” in the last year, I always walked away troubled by books with a lack of sound, biblical truth and a focus that was based almost solely on the authors’ experiences. They seemed misguided and elevated these desires as supreme, even when running counter to God’s Word or to other callings in life, such as family and children. That search for a significant calling, fulfilling desires, seemed to trump almost everything else and demanded sacrifice from everyone around. And how did it fit with following the example of Christ, who humbled himself to death on a cross (Phil. 2:3-8) to do his Father’s will (John 6:38) and bring us salvation?

Enter Jen Pollock Michel’s new book Teach Us to Want. I half expected the same as what I had been reading elsewhere, but this was different! It was hope-giving, inspiring, encouraging, grounded in biblical truth, gospel-centered, honest, and thoughtful. Teach Us to Want came from a different perspective by analyzing the more root issue of desire and ambition – not just the big picture of calling, but daily desires as well, something I had not considered, but which may be even more important. Teach Us to Want acknowledges that many of our desires are malformed and selfish, but that not all are. Teach Us to Want centers around the Word and prayer and led me into times of prayer before the Lord. Teach Us to Want centers around God and his glory, not around me. This is so refreshing, so needed in our culture.

Add to this that Jen Pollock Michel is a beautiful writer. She is adept with words, clearly well-read, interweaving with her story many biblical truths and valuable quotes along the way. Teach Us to Want is worth reading simply for its beauty with words!

Jen adds to the conversation that is going on among Christian women, but with a biblical approach and from an angle that is not as often considered. I hope Jen continues to write and that Teach Us to Want is just the first of many more things to come. I give it my enthusiastic recommendation!

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