Please Help Reshape a Collection of Readings on Vocation


helpwantedThe anthology Leading Lives that Matter: What We Should Do and Who We Should Be (LLTM) has been widely used by faculty and students at NetVUE schools as a collection of texts that can be used to guide and stimulate the exploration of vocation. The book, edited by Mark Schwehn and Dorothy Bass (Eerdmans, 2006), includes a wide variety of selections — poems, short stories, essays, speeches, obituaries, screenplays, and excerpts from longer works — drawn from both religious and secular sources.

The editors are now developing a second edition, and they seek your advice.

The book was originally developed for NetVUE schools and others like them that LeadingLiveswere in the process of creating courses and programs that explored fundamental questions of meaning and purpose in human life. The first section sets forth three important vocabularies people often use when discussing what gives a life meaning and significance — authenticity, virtue, and vocation. The second section organizes groups of readings that respond in a variety of ways to the questions people are likely to consider when deciding what to do with their lives. These include questions such as “Must my job be the primary source of my identity?”; “Is a balanced life possible and preferable to one focused primarily on work?”; and “Are some lives more significant than others?”

Senior Retreat
Mark Schwehn at a retreat with students last spring.

In the twelve years since the book’s publication, new questions have arisen in the minds of students and faculty. In addition, the concept of vocation has continued to develop in (sometimes) unexpected ways, and textual resources have grown in number and increased in variety. As a result, the editors of LLTM have been invited to prepare a second edition to be completed by the end of this year. As they revise the guiding questions and add or delete specific texts, the editors wish to proceed as they did with the first edition — soliciting, from students, faculty, and other readers — suggestions of questions to be explored and texts to be included.

The editors invite all interested readers to participate in this enterprise. If you have already read LLTM, please let us know which texts you found most (and least) helpful, as well as which questions you found most (or least) urgent and pertinent.

Photo of Dorothy Bass
Dorothy Bass

We would also like to know what questions you think are missing, and we are eager to gather suggestions for specific texts that might be added. If you have not read LLTM but have thought about the basic questions it raises, let us know which works of literature, theology, philosophy, history, or journalism have been most instructive and inspiring to you in your own study and in your own living.

Please email either editor with your ideas, comments, and suggestions at or If you are open to receiving a follow-up phone call, please include a telephone number where you can be reached.  The editors would like to talk directly with a sample of people who have read or used the first edition, as well as a sample of people who have not read the first edition but who are willing to think about how we might best serve them in the second edition. You may also leave a comment on this website. We will be sure to acknowledge your assistance in the published volume.


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