“The Life You’ve Always Wanted” by John Ortberg


The main purpose of this paper is to figure out the structural and thematic fields of the book by John Ortberg The Life You’ve Always Wanted, published in 2002 by Zondervan. This book shows many examples of the author to designate spiritual changes and development inside human beings, so that to find out the solutions afterwards. John Ortberg being involved in the teaching pastoral activity is well-known as a instructor for people to follow the right way in this secular world.

The book is not surprising in its title and ideas which the author represents, but rather grave and popular is the view on it according to the Ortberg’s guide. First, John shares with his experience in a sincere way. The extents of transformation and morphing are the first standpoints of the book. The theme of Christian flow in people’s hearts is heard through the words of the author. People should be obliged to promote such transformation due to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Then he provides a reader with a point of the necessity to change. This can be provided, as Ortberg writes, by means of Holy Spirit and the scriptures which tend to direct communities of people towards perfection. In the book the current representation of different opinions of the author has relied on the fact that people should rather train, but not only try. Though, the importance of spiritual disciplines is the core element as of the training of believers.

Then the theme of the book runs across the importance to feel joy and promote its power because God’s gives people a huge amount of opportunities to be close to gladness and celebration of different events in people’s lives in order to reverence that great deed of His which was illustrated almost two thousand years ago.

Also John Ortberg considers making haste as a sin which prevents people to contribute more time for prayers and devotion to God’s Word in activities and everyday life procedures. Stubbornness, vanity and pride the author compare with the desire of people o gain the authority which they do not deserve actually. Ortberg tries to point out the reason which makes a lot of ministries weak – it is when one made up his mind, due to a definite delusion, to replace God teaching and claiming personal truth or rules which are rather at variance with God’s Words and traditional approaches on the Christian sermons.

John Ortberg, on the other hand, points out the important role of confession and guiding ‘intra vitam’ by the instructions of the Holy Bible in terms of better results of a man when he attempts to achieve success in all spheres of his life. Ortberg notes that it is very necessary for people to adhere to concentration on God’s Word in strict attempts to keep this word in mind.

Concrete Responses

Designating the issue details of this paper I can possibly remember that the facts when Christians ignore the true prospects of Christianity and the Word of God, in particular. People in one Baptist Church near Philadelphia made every wrong attempt to please God by showing their faces’ appearances full of bygone martyrdom and effects of dissatisfaction with life. This community of people was followed by a pastor who did not interpret Bible in what Jesus said to His people.

They went to church not to maintain changes in their lives and gaining some moral and emotional benefits, but they brought to the church a lot of sorrow which stayed with them until the end of the sermon. The picture was rather opposite to what John Ortberg writes in his book. The thing is that, actually, wrong steps in finding God provides people with a great delay in their short lives. On the other hand, by such actions believers tend to reduce to zero the Good News which should be followed by good implementations in people’s lives. Otherwise, it can provoke other people thinking that the Bible is wrong and Christian church is not attractive.

Then comes a fair enough question: “If the Bible is dangerous, on what ground do we stand in conducting a critique of scripture that will render it less harmful?” (Hays 218) Indeed, the diversity of different types of Christian religion cannot prescribe the whole complex of what a man should do, so in this community of Christians the atmosphere was warm enough and the church itself looked great. The difference consisted in the way pastor and church people made out the truth of God’s Word. Moreover, the trouble consisted in the fact that they also teach other people to follow this way.


As I see, the reason of why John Ortberg wrote this book is rather convincing when applying to those Christian having forgotten once the fundamental points of Jesus’ words concerning joy and sincere ministry to God, Who needs his people to be glad and respectful for all He had done. I see many points in the book coincide with my personal experience in the moral and ethical plan. It is natural when a man gets everything he wants from life. The Biblical assurance of the fact that God has something more for us than we can even imagine.

It is true from psychological point of view that the more a man fulfills himself with positive emotions and joy particularly, the more good intentions and events may support his life and make him strong and enduring when troubles come. Many scholars point out the effect of optimistic mindset of a man to be the core element of good, healthy, and prosperous life. In fact, it is approved not experiments, but in accordance with concrete lives of those who adhere to this positive way of thinking and expressing of emotions. Though, I find reading and referring to the book by John Ortberg very necessary.

Furthermore, in one of his publications the author writes the following statement: “I believe because if what Jesus taught is true, then joy is at the core of the universe. If Jesus was wrong, if unbelief is right, then joy and the hunger for it are an accident.” (Ortberg 2007) I distinctly see the attempts of Ortberg to appeal to reason when he uses “ad absurdum” form in his discourses towards the audience. I also think that being a Christian is a great privilege.

It is like having at your disposal a lot more benefits than the rest of ordinary people have. Our body, soul and spirit need to be constantly developed. The spirituality is well emphasized in the book and made me to overview my Christian life and what drawbacks should be withdrawn from my character or intentions which I ought. “But it is in the Spirit where true fullness lies,” – admits John Ortberg in “The Christian Century”. (Ortberg 2003)


As far as I am concerned, the book The Life You’ve Always Wanted is an example of direct guidelines for contemporary Christians. The purpose of it tends to brighten a question of right interpretation of joy and happiness which every ordinary Christian should realize and apply to his life as an attribute of God’s mercies and love towards people. Understanding the message which this book brings is very important for me, as a Christian. I would rather recommend it to all my friends searching for God’s answers in their life and needing more better days than they have so far.


Hays, R. B. (1997). Salvation by Trust? Reading the Bible Faithfully. The Christian Century, 114, 218+.

Ortberg, J. (2002). The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People. Zondervan.

Ortberg, J. (2003). Don’t Be Ridiculous. The Christian Century, 120, 16.

Ortberg, J. (2007). Hunger for Joy. The Christian Century, 124, 39.

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