Friday, April 25, 2014

Live 10 by Terry A. Smith

It's a sad thing when an old Christian becomes jaded, you know. Reading Live 10 left me merely with a sense of deja vu; nothing new to see, just a new wrapper around old ideas. When I was in my twenties, I read nearly every positive thinking book published at the time - I owned several boxes full before I gave most of them away to a friend in real estate. Norman Vincent Peale, Dale Carnegie, Robert Schuller, Og Mandino, Zig Ziglar, Dennis Waitley, Charles Clason, and a whole host of others. I'm also well-steeped in Christian apologetics and devotionals, from such worthies as C.S. Lewis, R.G. Spruill, Max Lucado, Lee Stroebel, Charles Swindoll, Henry Blackaby and many more. So it's very very seldom that anything new comes along. The last thing I read that had what seemed to be a new take on things was the Purpose Driven stuff by Rick Warren.

Heinlein wrote one time that every generation thinks they invented sex. The same thing may be true about the positive thinking, name-it-and-claim-it self help topic that surges every so often in church circles. Live 10 may be all the rage in "young" churches these days. It seems mostly to promote the idea that God wants you to pursue your dreams, no matter how big, and to be successful, happy, and fulfilled, demonstrating His glory in all aspects of your life.

He may, or He may not.

Remember the story of the men who died when the tower collapsed, and the disciples wondering who sinned, resulting in those deaths, or the blind man about whom they had the same question? Sometimes, there is no "short term" reason for tragedies, and sometimes God's glory is displayed when He heals them, thus justifying their earlier suffering, but there ARE NO guarantees of any of that in this life. Read Job.

Honestly folks, God may or may not want your business to succeed, either in order to bless you, to teach you something, to bless someone else (maybe the person who buys your bankrupt business and founds an orphanage there), or do something else entirely. I've seen wonderful ministries start and succeed, start and fail, start with one leader, but only succeed when another leader comes along...basically all possible iterations of success and failure possible in Christian lives - and let's not even get started on what happens to Christian marriages in this era!

Heh, I haven't even talked much yet about what IS actually in the book, have I?

Smith lays out the case that every person is specially gifted and called to do great things for God. In his world, following the passions that God gave you will result in self-actuation and accomplishing great things. He quotes extensively from some noted Biblical scholars and a number of leadership experts, and devotes a lot of time in the latter portion of the book to talking about how to become a motivational leader. Pretty standard fare.

I did find a few points of interest.

Smith quotes Dorothy Sayers on "the three humiliations of God: the incarnation (God becoming a man through Christ), the crucifixion, and the church. It is amazing that God has so reduced himself in order to win the willful participation of people in their relationships with Him and the fulfilling of his purposes and their destinies. He absolutely insists that we deliberately cooperate with Him in order to complete the human story."

He talks about the necessity of doing the right thing over and over again, even when it seems pointless to do so, and illustrates it with a baseball story.

"Martinez had repeatedly run from his position at first base in order to cover second base on similar blips to the outfield. It was tedious. It was boring. But it was the right thing to do even when, hundreds of times before, it never resulted in an out. One play on this one night influenced the outcome for one win that moved the Yankees toward perhaps the most successful season in baseball history."

On morality,

"Richard Daft wrote that there are three levels of personal moral development: preconventional, conventional, and post-conventional. Preconventional is the most immature level, typically evidenced in young children and individuals who keep the rules only because they are afraid of consequences. In the conventional level people adopt and follow the moral norm of the culture around them. They do what is expected, not necessarily because of their deep convictions but because they know it is the correct thing to do. The post-conventional level of moral development, or 'principled level,' is when 'leaders are guided by an internalized set of principles universally recognized as right or wrong.'"

Smith likes to quote Kierkegaard. Modern worship leaders would be well to heed the following:

"Soren Kierkegaard said that we suffer a certain role confusion in corporate worship. We think of the congregation as the audience, the preacher as the performer, and God as the prompter. In fact, members of the congregation are the performers, the preacher is the prompter, and God is the Audience."

I had to chuckle when I read about something he said about his mid-life crisis.

"Adult kids - kids who used to have to ask permission to leave the table - were out, making their own decisions, some of them good, and some of them decisions I wouldn't have made."

Let me make clear that (in my opinion) there's nothing terribly wrong about most of the advice in this book. If it's the first book of this genre you've run across, you'll probably enjoy it, and take away some inspiration and ideas. If you've been around a while, though, and have read some of its ancestors, I wouldn't spend the double sawbuck on picking up a copy.

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