by Jay Milbrandt
This book is written as a challenge for the next generation to engage in something more meaningful with their life than what is offered by a good salary and the prospects of an exciting job. The author offers insight from his own experience of “wandering in the desert” looking for meaning and purpose and how he found that through serving others. He also is able to share from the experiences of a host of students who he has been able to challenge to pursue a similar path. There are aspects of the message of this book by which I’m fully excited and others which left me longing for more.
Jay Milbrandt begins his own story as a first-year law student. As one who had done well through university and seemed to be on the fast-track to a secure and stable future with a well paying job in the law field he faced a crisis of whether this was what life was all about. The experience he had is one that I think many young adults face. They have gone through higher education and preparation years of work and thousands of dollars only to be unsure if they are going to get a good return on their investment. For Jay this led him to pass up a summer internship in a law firm and instead travel to Thailand. While there he was impacted by the power of a relationship. The people he met there left a lasting impact on his life. Jay would return to California and after finishing law school was part of starting a Global Justice Program at Pepperdine University to allow law students and professors to be involved in “Go and Do” projects around the world.
The book is made up largely of a personal narrative of Jay’s own experiences and the lessons he has learned along the way. Overall, I felt this was an effective writing style for communicating his message. Some of these messages – such as the importance of “presence” – were more meaningful as part of a story rather than just as an idea or a concept. That being said Jay does share some valuable ideas. Among those are the value of a relationship, the importance of seeing yourself as an ambassador, and the idea of “tension” between responsibilities that keep life in balance.
While there were things I did like, I felt like as a Christian this book minimized what should be central, that is the Gospel. Though perhaps this book is seen as a corrective to an error that shares the Gospel but fails to impact and serve others it seemed to fall into the proverbial “ditch” on the other side. Another criticism is that this book is written for Americans to see the needs abroad but perhaps missing the needs at hand. The author addresses this at least in passing and realizes that a “go and do” lifestyle can be just as driven to serve those down the street as those across an ocean. In the overarching theme of the book however the primary thrust is towards service overseas.
One final issue that I was worried about from this book is the that some may see this as an encouragement to satiate a desire to serve for a little while (a summer trip, a semester abroad) and then after having served humanity can get on with their life. While this is certainly not the intention of the author the seed could be laid for this thinking. The call of this book – and ultimately of the Gospel – is of a life poured out in service. Our life of service is not a hat we wear for a few weeks and then return to real life. It is who we are and I hope that the call to “Go and Do” will be a lifestyle and not just an addition.
There is plenty to like in this book and it serves as good food for thought. For some who have missed the idea of service this book may be a helpful push in that direction, for others it has its dangers. As always, it is a book to be read with discernment.
DISCLAIMER: I received a free evaluation copy of this book from Tyndale House. I did not receive any monetary payment nor was I required to write a positive review. I hope my comments about the book will help you evaluate whether or not the book is worth purchasing and reading.