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Featured Book for May 2023

The Purpose Gap: Empowering Communities of Color to Find Meaning and Thrive

by Patrick B. Reyes

In The Purpose Gap, Patrick Reyes reflects on a family member’s death after a long struggle with incarceration and homelessness. As he asks himself why his cousin’s life had turned out so differently from his own, he realizes that it was a matter of conditions. While they both grew up in the same marginalized Chicano community in central California, Patrick found himself surrounded by a host of family, friends, and supporters. They created a different narrative for him than the one the rest of the world had succeeded in imposing on his cousin. In short, they created the conditions in which Patrick could not only survive but thrive.

Far too much of the literature on leadership tells the story of heroic individuals creating their success by their own efforts. Such stories fail to recognize the structural obstacles to thriving faced by those in marginalized communities. If young people in these communities are to grow up to lives of purpose, others must help create the conditions to make that happen. Pastors, organizational leaders, educators, family, and friends must all perceive their calling to create new stories and new conditions of thriving for those most marginalized. This book offers both inspiration and practical guidance for how to do that. It offers advice on creating safe space for failure, nurturing networks that support young people of color, and professional guidance for how to implement these strategies in one’s congregation, school, or community organization.

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Community Questions

Questions for Reflection from Claudia Love Mair.

Week 1

  1. What stories of yours demonstrate that the world was or was not built for you?
  2. What did your ancestors have to survive for you to exist?
  3. On page 34, Patrick mentions David Brooks assertion that at some point in each life there is an annunciation of purpose. What was yours?

Week 2

  1. Patrick describes Mary's journey to fulfill her purpose. What guidance does her story give to help you fulfill your own purpose?
  2. Do the guided meditation on pages 42-43. What was your experience like? How do you think your life would change if you practiced this regularly?
  3. What communities and institutions do you need to create or join to help close the purpose gap? What communities and institutions have helped you achieve your purpose?

Week 3

  1. Who loved you before you could discern your purpose?
  2. What networks can you identify that create conditions for future generations to thrive? Who in your network calls you to life? Who in your network do you need to check in with?
  3. How do you define home? What home are you creating now?

Week 4

  1. On page 145 Patrick tells readers not to believe the self-help literature that says finding your purpose is the key to happiness, and that purpose isn't a solo act. What is a way you can find purpose in community?
  2. Who are your sacred guides? What ancestors guide your path? How do you connect with them and honor their presence?
  3. What does the world look like if you live into your purpose?