Newsletter #479 – Blue Like Jazz Revisited

Probably I’m one of the oldest readers of Relevant magazine – a thoughtful, sometimes edgy, Christian-oriented publication geared to readers in their twenties and thirties. The May-June 2012 issue looks at Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz and the recently released film that builds on the book. Relevant calls Miller“the voice of a generation” whose “groundbreaking” memoir wrestled with questions of faith, doubt and worldview. The book “tapped a nerve, gave voice to a restless generation, and helped serve as a catalyst to new ways of thinking and living” and being a Christ-follower. I read the book when it first came out and but was more impacted by Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Here he wrote about looking at our lives and shaping new life stories that could be visions for how we live in the future.

Why would this interest the coaches, counselors, leaders and others who read these words?  Like most of my closest friends, Miller and some Relevant editors are around 40, looking back on their life journeys and thinking about where they want to go next. Most of us do this more than once as we go through life and so do the people we work with. “When we look back on our journeys, we should cringe from time to time,” writes Relevant founder Cameron Strang. “The things we were so sure of, passions we had, mistakes we made—it’s all part of becoming who we are today” and helping to clarify where we go tomorrow.

Into this mix is an interesting article on “ways to find your calling” whatever one’s age.  Some of this is basic – the questions coaches and ministry leaders ask often: What are your strengths and passions? What do your friends think you should do with your life? What bothers you so much that you feel compelled to bring change? Add these questions: What brings you joy? What holds you back? Where is God at work where you might be involved? What would you like others to notice about you? How would you like to be remembered?

How have you used events or questions like these to help yourself or others reshape their futures? Please comment.


  1. I think when we start asking these types of questions, we need to be careful that we don’t become too self focused. We need to remember that our life is not our own – we were bought with a price. Ultimately we should ask the question, “What should we be doing with our lives that would bring God most glory?”

    He created us for His purposes and for His glory. If we allow Him to lead us into the things He’s created us for, we will be fulfilled and He will be glorified! It’s really all about Him and what He desires to accomplish in the world. He really does have an ultimate purpose and mission that He is accomplishing, and He does have a viable part in that mission for all of us. That’s why He created each one of us with our individual uniqueness! He desires that we actively participate with Him – and we will be joyfully satisfied!


    1. I am grateful to all who responded to the “Blue Like Jazz” post with my list of coaching questions. I agree that these can be too self focused and answered with no thoughts of God in mind. But the key question is “What does God want me to do?” Sometimes he shows the way, in part, by how we answer questions about our passions, abilities and past experiences. Even so, these need to fit into a larger picture of what God is teaching and how he is guiding as we discern his purposes for out lives.


  2. I see these questions as excellent questions to help
    Coaching Clients begin to focus on how God has made them and has equipped them with specific abilities and passions that enables them to move forward in the life in which they so earnestly seek God’s leadership.


  3. I loved “Blue Like Jazz.” I think Donald Miller helped get Christian Publishing back into authentic writing. Too many non-believers have this view of Christians as white-washed human beings going to strange buildings on Sundays. The bible is so full of imperfect huiman beings struggling to overcome the challenges that beset them. The bible is the most relevant book ever written for those of us who recognize we are not all we could be. That is the basis for coaching, and Christian Coaching in particular: helping others to be all that God made them to be. Loved your questions Gary. Added the new ones to my coaching list. Questions are to coaches what scriptures are to Christians. Nice to have them at your brain’s fingertips when needed. Blessings.


    1. I appreciated your post. I especially liked your observation that Donald Miller did a lot to jolt the Christian publishing industry. Sadly there are a number of publishers who seem stuck in the old ways, not recognizing that for them it is “change or die.”


  4. You are writing right where my heart is! I knew pretty early on in life what my strengths, passions, and dreams were headed…but a life of neglect, trauma, disappointment and loss kept waylaying me. God did not give up, and neither did I. I love Donald Miller for being an authentic voice in this generation, and some of us are much older than he! My purpose now is to help others become what they might have been, and it’s a desire I believe came to me straight from the heart of God. Thanks for this great newsletter Gary.


    1. I love your message Linda. I think you will like my newsletter this week. BTW I recently read a report of the 100 most popular blogs written by Christians. I was not surprised that Miller had one of the biggest. He has 388,000 readers. In light of your message you may find my post for this week to be interesting (Newsletter 514).


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