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Better Than A Personal Life Coach

As an admitted fan of Patrick Lencioni I was delighted to find a book authored by him that I had not yet read.I entered into the book with very high expectations THE FIVE TEMPTATIONS OF A CEO (Jossey-Bass, 1998)  did not disappoint. The first 100 pages  of the book is set up as a business fable featuring Andrew a frustrated under-performing  CEO the evening before a board meeting that he is apprehensive about. On his way home late at night he meets Andrew on the Public Transport Train and the discussion quickly turn to the 5 biggest mistakes CEO’s as a group seem to be drawn towards. For those not excited about “fables or parables” to teach the lessons A summary model of why executives fail  begins on page 111 and includes diagrams (p. 119) and self assessment questions (p.123).

As helpful as the general identified temptations are for example  #1 Choose Results Over Status it is the unpacking of the principle in the fable that had the most impact on me personally by way of application. I am not a CEO but the ideas presented are a part of my life and the chapter caused much good reflection and personal questioning. This was a great book that I recommend to anyone who wants to be informed or reminded of how the big principles of life and career work. It will be a great addition to your library and work categories now and in the future.

Building A Theological Vocabulary

This semester I have been carrying in my academic briefcase a short reference work titled POCKET DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGICAL TERMS Edited by Stanley Grenz, David Guretzki and Cherith Fee Nordling (Inter-Varsity Press, 1999). Over and over as students have needed theological definitions to names.terms and  phrases  that come up in class lectures, readings or in assignments and this has been the perfect tool. The book contains over 300 entries which includes the foreign language terms so common in philosophy and Theology as well as concise explanations of movements and theological traditions. The dictionary covers the various perspectives with equal care from the “Wesleyan Quadrilateral” to the “Westminster Confession and Catechisms” (p. 121). Special value is added by the cross referencing which allows for ideas to be connected and further explored. Biblical citations are included when specially valuable but this work does not include a Scriptural concordance which allows the book to be complete in only 122 pages. The scholarly pedigree of Dr. Grenz who was professor of Theology at Cary Hall/Regent College in British Columbia and Professor Guretzki from Briercrest Bible College are impeccable and insure trustworthiness. If you teach using theological terms this is an invaluable tool to help your students self-discover the answer to their own question,”what does that term mean?” as well as build their vocabulary in the process. My copy is going to continue to reside in my briefcase for years to come!

An Introduction to “Strengths” Psychology

In just 110 pages the New York Times #1 Best Selling book, HOW FULL IS YOUR BUCKET by Tom Rath and Donald O. Clifton (Gallup Press, 2004) lays out over 50 years of research on the subject of positive encouraging personal interaction. Using as a unifying metaphor the word picture of a “dipper” and a “bucket” the book simply and understandably presents a powerful case for the power of encouragement.Starting with the interview question of “Whats right with people?” the authors use powerful stories, copious research results and personal experiences to motivate the reader to be intentionally positive in their interactions. Chapter One titled Negativity Kills begins with an unforgettable study by Dr William E. Meyers a chief Army psychologists on American prisoner of war detained in North Korean prison camps who suffered from “extreme hopelessness” (p.19) and how it was accomplished.Other chapters deal with positive attitudes and work productivity and positive interaction and parenting. The book also includes ad ID code to take the “Clifton Strengths Finder” inventory and use resources on Overall I found the book helpful as a reminder and full of illustrations for sermon/teaching illustrations. I think in the past we could take for granted people would pick up the concepts about the  power and practice of positive encouragement from family,school church and social life but that assumption can not be made so if you or someone you know needs an introduction  or refresher course in human interactions this would be a great tool!

Moving beyond The Status Quo….

I admit from the outset that I am not a great fan of catchy titles especially ones that mimic a best seller so the book GOOD TO GREAT IN GODS EYES: Ten Practices Great Christians Have In Common by Chip Ingram (Baker Books, 2007) sat in my “to be read pile of volumes for months before I began to read it. Having loved GOOD TO GREAT by Jim Collins I was not full of high expectations for  a book riding its title’s coat tails. But after reading the volume from cover to cover I was very pleasantly surprised and I am delighted to have been wrong about the value of this book.

The opening words of chapter one set the stage, “Life consists of what a man is thinking about all day” Ralph Waldo Emerson. Each of the 10 chapters begin with a series of quotes and then continues to some general thoughts and personal reflections from the authors life and ministry. This is intern followed by a clear concise list of principles related to the topic. The chapter concludes with specific Action Steps and Questions for Reflection and Discussion. The 10 chapter headings include:

  1. Think Great Thoughts                                        6. Take Great Risks
  2. Read Great Books                                                 7. Make Great Sacrifices
  3. Pursue Great People                                            8. Enjoy Great Moments
  4. Dream Great Dreams                                          9. Empower Great People
  5. Pray Great Prayers                                              10. Develop Great Habits

The reality is these are not the finest paragraphs ever written on Thinking, Books, Prayer and Risk Taking but the chapters are uniformly well written, easy to understand, short enough to easily read but long enough to inform and motive growth in behavior. It is the breadth of the topics covered as well as the interesting writing style that give the book is value.

I teach a class of incoming university freshmen every fall. I plan to make this book a part of the curriculum in the semesters to come. I can’t think of a single volume that covers all these diverse but important topics in a unified and applicable way. If you are looking for a solid overview of steps to spiritual and personal growth this book would serve you well!


Life Skills On Display

As a big fan of “The One Minute Manager” series over the years I was very pleased to have found a copy of THE ONE MINUTE ENTREPRENEUR By Ken Blanchard, Don Hutson and Ethan Willis (Currency/Doubleday, 2008). The focus of the book is creating and sustaining a successful business but I found the issues raised in the parable of the book was applicable to all of life. The story involves a fictional couple who is mentored by “real life” people who’s names are well known in the  personal growth world. The parable includes a rough start and the lessons learned to transition to a successful mindset. The body of the work lays out the skills and principles necessary to establish a career on an upward trajectory.  The end portion does not ignore common pitfalls and temptations that trip people up as they move through life. At less than 130 pages the book is a short read but the appendix covering the “top 20 attributes of successful entrepreneurs” is a nice value added. This is an excellent book for someone starting out as well as someone in the middle of their careers as a course affirmation or road map for correction. A very worth while read!

The Power Of Encouragement!

I have read a shelf load of John Maxwell books and enjoyed and learned things from everyone of them. I did not think there could possibly be a new format to John’s books that I had not seen before, but I was wrong. In the book ENCOURAGEMENT CHANGES EVERYTHING by John Maxell (2008, Thomas Nelson) the subject of encouragement is explored using short quotations, stories and materials gleaned from all of John’s other books and resources. The short 125 page book designed to be given as a gift is divided into 6 chapters including specific focus on teams and hope. There was nothing really new but the stories and quotes as would be expected are great for sermon illustrations (I am using one from the book this Sunday) but having all the topical content on a given subject was refreshing. I remembered reading the material before but the constant emphasis on encouragement on page after page was still full of impact. Worth the price and the reading time.

“There are high spots in all of our lives and most of them have come about through encouragement from someone else”   George M. Adams  (p. 31)

How True!

Don’t Do This

Everyone who is involved in ministry of any kind has had their share of mistakes, errors and just plain mental lapses. It is nice to know one is not alone in this fraternity of failure and even better to learn from the mistakes of others. This brings us to the wonderful youth ministry book, DON’T DO THIS: Learning From The Screw-ups of Youth Ministry Leaders edited by Len Kageler and Jonathan Hobbs (The Youth Cartel, 2016). In this hilarious and thoroughly uplifting book youth leaders ranging from the famous to the anonymous share personal ministry stories to allow others to learn from their mishandling of relational and ministry situations. the 200 page book is divided into 5 sections; Failure in the Fundamentals, Failure with Youth, Failures with Parents and Volunteers, Failure with Church Leadership and my personal favorite Failures that Defy Categorization. Each section has about 10 stories told in the fist person along with sidebars  and a closing reflections portion that include Questions for Reflections or Discussion and Major Project Ideas For The Classroom. This makes the book not only a wonderful book for individual reading and personal laughter but also a excellent classroom, network, or internship resource. I love the idea of teaching the next generation of youth ministry leaders utilizing our failures and not just our successes which seems to be a natural proclivity. I found this book so personally helpful and encouraging that I am adding into the required reading in one of the CCU youth ministry classes next academic year. If you pick up a copy and read it you won’t be disappointed!