Runner’s up for Book of the Year 2008

Getting beyond the wow factor of technological advancements can be hard at times. After all, today my phone has more memory, speed, and graphic computing power than my first computer ever dreamed of. But the real issue for all of us is how we are going to leverage the opportunities created by technology in order to exercise leadership influence? How do we participate in the social-networking and web-based explosion of the likes of Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter, or blogging phenomenon.

Tribes is about that kind of leverage. In fact, in the surprise I didn’t expect, Godin’s book offers powerful principles for effective leadership in an information age. I an such a fan o the book that I have been highly recommending it to our staff. Every leader of the day faces the challenge of getting beyond the surface and superficial use of technology and informational systems and getting to the real issue: leadership. Here is a book to help you do just that.

Tribes invites all of us into a fresh look at the opportunities and necessities of leadership in the environmentof our day.

The second book in my Runner’s Up category is Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Pete Scazzero.  I have written on this in an earlier entry that you can read.  But, as I look back on the year, I realize that I am continually having conversations that link back to EHS and to the journey that book sent me on.

One component of the book I have thought a great deal about lately is the way Scazzero addresses the need we all have to grieve our limits and our losses.  We all have God-given limits and our ability to discover genuine emotionally healthy spirituality is connected to how well we learn to deal with loss and with our limits.

I don’t know about you, but I have found that my emotional well-being and my spiritual well-being are inseparably intertwined. Here is a tool to guide the integration of my (and I hope, your) journey.

SO THE QUESTION IS: IF YOU WERE TO NOMINATE YOUR “BOOK OF THE YEAR” WHAT WOULD YOU SUGGEST AND WHY?


Book of the Year

Of all the books I read last year, Just Courage stands out as book of the year for me. It is inspiring, provocative, prophetic and although only 132 pages, it has gotten under my skin like no book I have read in a long time.  Here is a sample glimpse into Gary’s point:

“At the end of the day we thought our Christian life would be more than this—-somehow larger, more significant, more vivid, more glorious. But it’s not. Driving to church on Sunday feels a bit like Ground Hog Day, the movie where Bill Murray’s character is forced to pathetically relive exactly the same day over and over again.”
(p. 25-26)

“The idea that there is nothing beyond our personal spiritual development isn’t meant to be satisfying—-for our rescue is not the ultimate destination; it is the indispensible means by which God works out his plan to rescue the world.”  (p. 29)

Just Courage makes a powerful case for God’s call to his people to engage in the work of justice. And, not just for the redemptive impact on those struggling with injustice, but for how responding to this call is liberating for Christians as well.  “God specifically uses the work of justice as the pathway for liberating us from the Christian cul-de-sac of triviality and small fears.” (p. 39)

Haugen’s book fits on a larger page that God has been writing in my life. It is a call to all of us who follow Christ to move outside the walls of ecclesiastical safety and into the lives of people touched by the brokenness of our world. It is a call to follow Jesus in the world he was motivated to reach. It is an invitation to participate in the redemptive work that God is all about.

I could go on, but what I would love is for you to get a copy, read it, and drop me a note with your thoughts. Let’s have a dialog.  {Click the image of the book and go straight to Amazon to order it.}
[P.S. I’ll post thoughts on the two runner-up books in next week.]

Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

Scazzero - Emotionally Healthy SpiritualityEmotionally Healthy Spirituality
Peter Scazzero

“It is impossible to be spiritually mature, while remaining emotionally immature. [But,] something is missing…the spirituality of most current discipleship models often adds a protective layer against people growing up emotionally.” (pg. 15)

I grew up in a Christian culture that functionally reduced following Jesus to a list of obligations and daily duties. Do daily devotions–or “have a daily quiet time,” memorize scripture, tithe, attend services and Bible studies, acquire knowledge about the Scriptures, and avoid the obviously sinful stuff. I heard very little of the mystery and dynamic nature of following Jesus into a life of deeper mission and intimacy.

Biblical and theological facts, not to mention ecclesiological tradition, were the substance of our Church conversations. Absent was anything of the radical invitation to engage God with the fullness of my emotions. Missing was any notion of the depth of God’s nature as an emotional being in who’s image I was created. Even further off the radar was the notion that my sanctification and my emotions could be connected.

Here is a profoundly different look at discipleship. It is freeing and enticing. It might give new meaning to what Jesus meant by, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” And it is different from the way most of us “do” the Christian life.

Scazerro’s honesty about his own journey, the way he led his church, the frustrations of his wife Geri, and his redemption into a new way of life make the book human. It is written with an honesty and a connection to the daily stuff of life and leadership that is as compelling as it is convicting.

In a sentence, the summary of his prescription, is this: “the pathway to unleashing the transformative power of Jesus to heal our spiritual lives can be found in the joining of emotional health and contemplative spirituality.” (pg. 37)

The book is not only helpful, I think it is profoundly significant and recommend it highly. At the same time I need to be forthright. You should know that I was a fan of this book before reading it. Pete won me over with his earlier book, The Emotionally Healthy Church and, because a few of CRM staff have attended his church in Queens, I have followed the stories of his leadership for some time. I think so highly of what God has shown him that I have invited he and his wife Geri to be the keynote speakers at our staff conference in Portland this coming August.

Kite Runner

Kite Runner (Book Cover)

Beautifully painful. Harsh. Irresistable. Honest. A rare look into the complexity and tensions of hope and suffering. And, simultaneously, a frank reminder that the results of many choices can never be undone. I found myself moved by the images of sacrifice by parents for their children. I am moved by the work ethic of immigrant families who do everything within their power to build a life. In the anesthetic world of suburban comfort and western affluence Kite Runner is a compelling reminder of what real life tastes like for the two-thirds world.