God created human beings with a specific design and purpose, but in the busyness and chaos of life and ministry, most of us haven’t identified that unique design in our own lives. Hear from three EFCA reviewers about what they learned from Will Mancini’s new book, Younique.
A Means Toward Kingdom Impact
By Kevin Boaz
I first came across Will Mancini’s work at an EFCA district event in Texas. His Church Unique tools helped guide me in my first pastorate to lay out mission, vision and values in a clear and compelling format. When I learned Mancini had taken that idea and applied it to individuals, my curiosity was piqued. Younique: Designing the Life that God Dreamed for You (B&H Books 2020) is not merely a book, it’s a detailed tool kit for “the journey to know, name and live out your personal calling.”
This certainly isn’t the first book to help followers of Jesus discover their unique personality, gifting and calling, but I dare say it’s the most comprehensive.
This certainly isn’t the first book to help followers of Jesus discover their unique personality, gifting and calling, but I dare say it’s the most comprehensive. Mancini begins with options for reading this book by listing a menu of specific chapters to read depending on your goals. The book takes readers on a journey through discovering identity, values and calling, which are then compiled into crafted statements and diagrams that lay out our lives on one concise page. Along the way, readers are asked to actively apply the concepts through tools and assessments made available online. If a reader doesn’t use these, he or she won’t be able to fully apply the book.
Throughout Mancini’s book, though I didn’t try every tool, I found helpful material, illustrations and personal application. For that alone, it’s worth the effort for pastors. I found Mancini’s discussion on applying core values to 90-day goals (which then impact our daily schedules) most impactful. Most pastors would be able to take this book and pull out the useful sections and online tools without getting stuck in the process. That being said, I probably would not recommend this book as a ministry tool unless a church or an individual plan to go all-in on the journey.
The one thing that nagged me throughout the book is that this whole concept of finding the perfect-fitting job, ministry and calling while immersed in a biblical worldview is not universal in its application. These types of tools tend to be most usable for stable socioeconomic groups in nations that have freedom and upward mobility. A believer in less fortunate circumstances may have the same gifting, but no realistic opportunity to pick their perfect path, work environment, dream job and/or vision for life.
At the time I’m writing this review, we’re under stay-at-home orders for COVID-19, which is a reminder of the privilege we have in the United States to pursue our dreams—as compared to other nations and the history of the Church. Mancini has done great work in this book, but, as he warns his readers, it’s a means, not an end, toward greater kingdom impact.
Kevin Boaz is the lead pastor/planter at Incline Church (EFCA) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Kevin has served at EFCA churches in Wyoming and Texas while enjoying serving in various district roles as well. Kevin and his wife, Rachel, enjoy spending time with their four children while exploring the beauty of Colorado.
The Book I Wanted to Like—But Couldn’t
By Albie Powers
I was excited to read and review Will Mancini's newest book, Younique. I’m a fan of Mancini’s leadership material and the work that Auxano (his organization) does for churches, and I was interested in the premise of Younique, which is helping people take "the journey to know, name, and live out their personal calling" (p.1). There are many books on helping people understand the general calling that God has given every Christian. What Younique adds to the conversation is helping followers of Jesus understand not just their general calling but their specific calling based on how God has gifted and wired them.
As I continued reading the introduction, I highlighted these two sentences:
"Our vision is to see life planning and life design as a regular part of what the local church offers. The goal is not just to slot people into a volunteer position for an hour a week but to slingshot them into their life calling every moment of every day." (p.14)
That is one of my big goals in ministry, and I thought if Younique delivered on that—if it not only helped followers of Jesus discover their specific calling but also gave them a pathway for stepping into it—every pastor in the country should purchase it. I wanted to like this book. I think certain readers will get a lot out of this book. But for me, it just didn't work.
I loved the premise of the book, but I don't think I would recommend it to pastors looking for a practical tool to help their people discover their specific God-given calling.
At times, it felt like Younique was a compilation of every single personality profile tool all combined into one resource. I believe the intention was that each of these tools offers a specific, valuable personal insight, but each tool only highlights one aspect of that person. So instead of leaving anything out, it compiles all of them in one way or another. For example, in chapter six, there are five tools highlighted that help you "discover and deploy your greatest strengths." They were: name meaning, personality, APEST, strengths and sense of accomplishment.
Each one of these tools requires significant investment not just to understand correctly but also to learn to apply. I’ve been working through Alan Hirsch's view of APEST through his recent "Future Travelers Cohort." I’ve spent more than a year trying to learn how to best apply APEST in my local context, and I still feel like I’m just scratching the surface. APEST is only one of (I believe) 15 different diagnostic tools given to help you discover yourself.
I hesitated even to write this review because I was worried it would come off as too negative. I loved the premise of the book, but I don't think I would recommend it to many pastors who are looking for a practical tool to help their people discover their specific God-given calling. Overall, I found it to be too complicated. I believe some individuals would benefit greatly from being coached by a Younique trainer, but few local pastors will have the time to invest in learning the system well enough to pass it on to their people.
Albie Powers is the lead pastor of Elm City Church (EFCA) in Keene, New Hampshire. Before helping plant Elm City, Albie spent 10 years in youth ministry. Albie has been married to his wife, Beth, for ten years, and they have two kids, Nora (6) and Albert (3). Before entering vocational ministry, Albie played golf at Liberty University and was their assistant coach for three years while attending seminary.
Becoming More Like “Me”
By Mark Mendenhall
What am I going to do with my life?
From childhood through retirement, we all wrestle with this question. Younique is a book that helped me arrive at some potential answers. How much you like it will partly depend on your personality. Will Mancini and Cory Hartman take the reader on an in-depth look at life-planning in this book. Initially, I was afraid it would tilt toward the typical motivational seminar viewpoint, but that was not the case. The authors balanced self-planning with God’s work in our lives.
I admit I have not yet taken the time to implement each of the steps and ideas mapped out in the book. The authors seem to acknowledge that people have different wants and needs (and available time) as they go through a book like this, so they give several different chapter sequences to follow depending on the end goal of the reader. There are many links to further online resources. Younique is not so much a book as a toolbox to equip its readers to map out their lives.
Younique shows the reader how one could create a one-page snapshot to summarize the whole picture of one’s life.
Mancini and Hartman’s focus for Younique is two-fold: discovering your special calling and working out a pathway on which to walk. Throughout the book, they pose an interesting question: What if God were to ask you, “Why weren’t you more like you?” The idea is that since God has provided one-of-a-kind gifts for us to do His work in this world, we should explore and develop our unique gifting and ministries.
Here's one statement I highlighted:
“God uses work—especially unpleasant work—to teach us spiritual contentment, submission, servanthood, sacrifice, and suffering well. These five marks of godly character are a useful checklist against which to measure your motives.”
Another valuable tool in this toolbox is the Life Discovery Grid, which you can print out and fill in with your own life events. New to me was the APEST tool, which has provided helpful insight into my own strengths and weaknesses. The authors also spend time on your “Vision Frame”—your mission, values, strategy and measures—and your “Vision Proper,” or a picture within the frame of where God is taking you. This includes your long-term, intermediate, 90-day and immediate goals, with lots of concepts to help you work through this process. Younique shows the reader how one could create a one-page snapshot to summarize the whole picture of one’s life.
I highly recommend this book for individuals, families, churches, businesses and anyone looking for help planning life from a different perspective.
Mark Mendenhall is an elder at Bethel EFC in North Platte, Nebraska. He and his wife, Jami, enjoy their seven grandchildren. Mark is a student of the Bible and is on Twitter way too much (@markmendenhall), mostly learning and not Tweeting very frequently...mostly likes and retweets.
What has helped you discover God's unique purpose and design and your life? Share your thoughts in the comments.