Leading Happy

Where Leadership and Happiness Collide

Category: Book Reviews (page 1 of 7)

My Summer Reading List for 2017

It is no secret – I love reading. I am also a bit eclectic when I read. I am truly all over the place. Yet, because of that very fact, many ask what I am reading. So here is my Summer Reading List for 2017.

So here is my Summer Reading List for 2017. It ranges from sci-fi novels, business marketing helps, leadership and social media, and so much more.

Hope you enjoy!

#1 Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday (marketing/social media)

I decided to read this book because I have been working in a marketing department of a large company. I felt as if much of what they did and how they thought would benefit me and the charity I run for them. Plus, it allowed me to have a starting place to discuss intelligently with them on marketing topics.

I highly recommend this to someone wanting a quick read that allows them a portal into the marketing world, especially as it relates to social media.

#2 As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene Peterson (ministry/preaching/spiritual formation)

I try and read all that comes out from Eugene Peterson. Finding out this will be his last book meant I would have to have it. This large tomb is worth its weight in gold.

The text is a compilation of his sermons through Scripture (Genesis to Revelation) at a certain place, time, and period. They have only edited some as needed, but the fact that he talks about what happened in the 60s and 70s and how they affected the church he pastored for almost 30 years is powerful. It’s literally like being able to binge read the life of a pastor as he grew, his congregation grew and how Scripture informed it all.

Feel free to skip this book, but be warned as it will be discussed in a category of its own for years to come.

#3 Digital Leader by Erik Qualman (social media/leadership)

I have followed Erik Qualman since his first days as a Twitter guy and blogger. His first book, Socialnomics was amazing and I still find I need to go back and re-read parts.

What Qualman does here is built on those principles by the practical work and learning he has done over the years and created a wealth of advice for those leading in an unprecedented digital age.

I will admit, it is a bit long in parts, but overall, the content is next to none. Other leaders in the social world will be reference this work, so make sure to become conversant with it.

#4 Hell Divers by Nicholas Sansbury Smith (sci-fi/apocalyptic novel)

Of course, I love reading sci-fi and fantasy when I can. This was a .99 cent book deal that I bought and finally got around to reading. It was well worth the buck!

The novel is based on the future where the earth has had a major apocalypse and humanity lives on giant air ship cities. To make sure the ships fly and run well, Hell Divers, dive to the surface of the earth to scavenge for parts.

What lives on the earth still is what makes the novel so much fun. Plus, it’s full of thought and questions about what does it mean to be human in a post-apocalyptic world and at what costs will someone go to make sure life carries on. Anymore and spoilers come out, so fans of apocalyptic tech/sci-fi will love this novel and the sequel, Hell Divers 2.

#5 The Kingdom of Speech by Tom Wolfe (journalism/language/literature)

I actually bought this book because the title fascinated me and I tend to enjoy reading and listening to Tom Wolfe.

What makes this book unique is it’s not a novel as Wolfe tends to write but a telling of his version of looming at Speech and its connection to evolution. He tackles the topic as it intrigued his journalism side. Why it intrigued him was because of the notion that language and language development was the one major thing that plagued Charles Darwin and subsequent evolutionists that followed in his thinking.

The crux of the book is that language wars against evolution as a major issue. Why did only humans learn language, semantics, and complex nuances? Why was a humans brain so large from the beginning and other parts so week? The large brain gave no evolutionary advantage through language for millions of years? Sounds interesting, right? Well to Tom Wolfe, it did too and he sets out to talk about the language and evolution wars of the past to liven up and bring back this theory to the modern public.

Let’s just say, Wolfe has his journalistic bravado and unnecessary snark at points, but overall, fans of Wolfe and fans of language and language development will find this book as fun as it is informational.

#6 Canoeing the Mountains by Tod Bolsinger (ministry/leadership)

My friend and missionary, Adam Fogleman, reached out and told me I have to read this book. I am half way through now as it was a late addition to the list. I try not to fully endorse a book till I have a full fill of its content, but I find myself highlighting something on each and every page.

I will more than likely be doing a full blown book review of this one next month, so stay tuned.

#7 Ready Player One by Ernest Clime

Another sci-fi/apocalyptic/techie novel makes the list!

So all of my good and nerdy friends keep talking about this book. And I tried to ignore the chatter till someone said it is full of 80s pop culture. 80s music, games, movies, etc. I was hooked from the beginning.

I read the novel in two days and ended up sending a copy to my brother for his birthday.

Basically, it’s the future and its sucks (of course) and people find a way to escape their poor, sorry lives by jumping onto the Oasis. A fully online world where your avatar has stats can go on adventures, can go to school and can be far cooler than you will ever be in the poverty-stricken, energy starved world of the future.

The story is a first person account of a young man who in the real world has nothing going for him, but in the Oasis is a rock star after solving a mysterious riddle from the eccentric 80s lover and creator of the Oasis, now deceased. Once these three riddles and three keys are possessed by someone – they become the ruler of the Oasis and inherit the future and power and prestige left behind by the founder.

As it starts out as his quest to solve these riddles and save the Oasis, he is joined by friends, chased by enemies, and goes on one heck of the 80s like ride to save the future and make sure the Oasis stays as authentic to its purpose as the founder had wished it to be.

Trust me, I wanted to go back and listen to all my 80s music, re-watch Back to the Furture, War Games, dust off the Atari and Nintendo and relive my childhood. It is one fun book. The only caution I give is that some of the themes are adult in nature, so being a book about games and such doesn’t mean it is void of some language and topics you may not be ready to chat about with your kiddos.


BONUS: What I am currently listening to on Audible:

#8 What is the Bible by Rob Bell (ministry/biblical studies/pop culture)

I started listening to this last week and thought I would add it on at the last minute. So many people either love or hate Rob Bell (with much in between that just don’t care). Nevertheless, I wanted to see what all the talk is about, but after needing to read other books, I bought the audio version to listen to while I commute back to work.

So far, many of his ideas he has shared in other books or on his blog/podcast, and some very fresh and engaging ideas. while he still asks questions that he never wants to answer only making it harder for people who follow his works to find out what he is really trying to say. But it’s Bell, he likes the mystery.

He narrates his own audio book and all I can say is he is one engaging, powerful stroy teller. I am sure to use some of his thoughts on certain Scriptures in sermons to come. Once I am finished listening, I will do a fuller review.

HAPPY SUMMER READING! 

No Easy Jesus: A Review

Where in the world did the idea that following Jesus would be easy come from?

Jesus life was anything but easy. Grew up poor. Lived among the marginalized. Didn’t start a public ministry till his 30s. Then he was loved, booed, cheered, hated, hunted, betrayed, mocked, beaten, and killed in a most public and humiliating way. Anything but an easy life.

All this to say, we need more books like No Easy Jesus: How the Toughest Choices Lead to the Greatest Life by Jason Micthell.

Throughout the book Mitchell draws a distinction between the easy Jesus of pop culture and the real Jesus found in Scripture.

Easy Jesus is made in our Jesus. The real Jesus call us to be made in his image!

Easy Jesus would have stayed in the place where God dwells, heaven. The real Jesus came to earth and, “moved into the neighborhood.” (John 1:14, MSG)

Following the easy Jesus takes us no effort. He looks and conforms to the images we love. Following the real Jesus, however, takes grit, determination, and often times doubt.

The book is a call to forget we have it all together. We don’t. Life is hard. Nothing is easy anymore. And easy Jesus and easy answer help no one but the fool. It’s time to follow a real Jesus who asks questions, seeks justice, and often finds himself on the wrong side of the debate on holiness (and yet is the holiest of all).

No Easy Jesus by Jason Mitchell is a great reminder to stop and evaluate the version of Jesus we follow. One Jesus has a narrow path leading to life and the other a wide path leading to easy now but death later.

I highly recommend this book to pastors tired of the same ole Jesus who looks like the mega preachers and televangelists of this world. Sometimes we need to be shaken by our long held beliefs, because, put simply, they are wrong.

We all must choose to follow the pop culture Jesus or the Jesus defined by Scripture. You may the call. If you need help figuring it all out, Micthell’s book is sure to delight!


I received this book from Tyndale House Publishers as a member of the Tyndale Bloggers Network program in exchange for an honest review of the book.

Dealing with Pressure in Ministry

How do you learn best?

Reading books and listening to solid podcasts are my top two.

I listen to Carey Nieuwhof’s podcast religiously. Although I subscribe to many great ones, this one seems to literally grab my attention each episode. Recently, Nieuwhof had Terry Linhart as his guest (episode 147). Linhart has written an excellent book. The Self-Aware Leader: Discovering Your Blind Spots to Reach Your Ministry Potential.  Personally, I feel challenged by my pastor and my wife to be a “kinder, gentler, David Lermy.”

So of course, I ordered the book right away. I am sure I will do a fuller book review sometime, but what I want to do here is give the three of the four actions Linhart provides in Chapter 6, Seeing Your Pressures, and add some commentary on how I am using these to help me deal with high pressure situations.

Don’t we all need help here as many situations in ministry and nonprofit work are high-pressure.

1. Own your strengths and weaknesses. 

I am learning to be okay with my weaknesses. But the message in the leadership is a bit mixed here. If you read Marcus Buckingham, he would say – Ignore your weakness and only focus on your strengths. He was reacting to the theory that leaders need to be more well rounded and 360 to achieve greatness. We all know now that is not true, thanks in part to guys like Buckingham. But has the pendulum swung too far to the other side?

Learning about what we are weak at and accepting it is vital to self-awareness.

I can recall sharing some weakness recently to a prospective employer and feeling comfortable with it. After years of ministry work and counseling, I get that I am not perfect and there are areas I thrive in and there are areas I need help and guidance. Some of our weakness are areas we can improve and others may be more lifelong. Knowing the difference can make all the difference in our leading well and leading happy.

What are some of the areas you are weak in and what can you do to either be more comfortable and accepting of that weakness or deal with it so the area becomes a new strength?

2. Developing resilience.

Thinking back, I tended to be the diplomat in most groups I interacted. I was cool and calm and wanted all to get along. Yet, when the waters of resistance became too troubled, I was also the first to flee and let the others deal with the carnage.

Slowly over the years though we all develop more and more resilience.

Linhart says it best,

“Identify two or three things you can now handle with ease that ten years ago would have crushed you. Remember how those used to short-circuit your emotions and life? Now, think about two or three current things in your life that overwhelm you. In what ways can you begin to develop your capacity and resilience regarding them?” (page 121)

Well said indeed. When looking back at my life I can recall the first real congregant fight I had in a church where I was an associate pastor. I felt I was right, and instead of being flexible and purposeful in response, I simply reacted. Wel,, reacted is a nice way to put it. I actually made a fool of myself and of this person in front of a room of about 120 people.

I recall a close mentor helping me realize as ministers we don’t always have the right to be right and relationships matter more than the emotions of the moment. So I went back to this person and made things right and to this day we are still friends. Plus, this was a lesson in resilience. Now, I respond peacefully more than react in emotional anger. We call it spiritual growth!

3. Remember who you follow.

 

Again, allow me to quote Terry Linhart,

“If we’re not careful, self-focus leads to less about Jesus and God’s power and provisions, and more about the clay of our lives.”

Most of may anxiety comes from worrying about my inadequacies of a leader. Oh, and let’s not forget how much we wish to hide those from the public we serve and the other pastors we hope to look better in front of at events.

You can never be a happy leader and live with those kind of anxieties. You have to let all of that go, or as my tribe in Pentecostal circles say, “put it under the blood.” The work of Christ in our lives and the power of the Holy Spirit moves beyond our inadequacies.

  • We are called by God.
  • We are redeemed by Jesus.
  • We are empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Remember who you follow!

If you follow man’s approval, you’re in a world of hurt, but I am sure you already feel it.  Let it all go. Set in the presence of God’s grace like Mary and stop running around “serving Jesus” as an excuse to not pause to hear the Savior teach you what grace truly means.

I will end with a personal story.

Maybe you are a bit like me. I recall a time during my graduate work, I had a great thought and preached my heart out and not one person said anything about it. I just knew people would be blown away by my knowledge and theological prowess. I was devastated and sat in my office and hid the resentment and pain I felt.

Then a few weeks later, I preached again and I was more relaxed and really shared no knew insights or knowledge. People came up and told me they loved the humor and really connected with the stories. I wanted to say, where were you all weeks ago when I shared some amazing stuff! I was in a lose-lose cycle of forgetting who I follow.

During prayer after these two situations, I found God challenging me. Whether I was sharing some deep thought or being funny and calm (my personality), I am doing his work for his glory and his approval. For real. I was literally changed in a moment. Now, from time to time, the lose-lose cyle wants to creep in, but I have the one I follow reminding me its about Him and not me, and not even those I serve.

Perhaps this is your story too?

Losing sight of who we are in Christ makes it very hard to lead happy where God has assigned you. Click To Tweet

Taking these three simple, yet hard to do, ideas and getting away from the fast-paced world of ministry today is vital for us to self-identify and provide time for self-awareness. I hope over the final parts of the summer, these ideas can go on a trip with you and help you find the peace over your weaknesses, resilience over your inadequacies, and connect you back to the one who you follow, the only one that truly matters.

Only then can you begin to lead happy.


Order a copy of Terry Linhart’s The Self-Aware Leader through my Amazon Smile link and support a charity that feeds hungry children in Southern Missouri.

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