Leading Happy

Where Leadership and Happiness Collide

Tag: Poor

Killing Us Softly: A Review


Growing up, one of my favorite groups was The Fugees. One of their hit songs is Killing Me Softly. In this song, an unsuspecting lady listens to this master musician as he sings a song that somehow unmasks her hard exterior and speaks deep to her at the soul level. How could this man know her so well? Where was this coming from? Was she dying to one thing only to be born into another? The song is deep on so many levels.

Pastor, nonprofit president, author, and innovative, biblical leader, Efrem Smith is one of my favorite Christian leaders to follow, listen to, and read. His other books have been a huge inspiration, and his 2008 Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit talk has been one I’ve yet to forget. In a nutshell, his passion is contagious. Plus, his love for the downtrodden, poor, disenfranchised, imprisoned, and hurting as potential kingdom partners and those who have been radically converted to be the ones who will be those who help bring about radical change in the world is inspiring, to say the least.

In Killing Us Softly, Smith provides a biblical framework for understanding what it means to die to ourselves so that Christ may truly live and move through us to a broken and upside down world. Not only is it full of Scripture, Smith shares stories from his own life and those who have been impacted by the message of bringing hope to an upside down world. The upside down world we live is, according to Efrim, is one full of broken lives, relationships, and systems and institutions. Therefore, self-help, the government, charities, and programming will never bring hope to this world that is turned upside down. The only hope is Jesus and his work to slowly kill that which is not of him and replace it with his mission to turn the world rightside up.

I have read many books in this vein and most tend to be overdone on stories and practically void of Scripture (or Scripture used inappropriately). Smith only uses stories from his life and a few other pointed stories to build on his dialog of being people who bring turn the world right side up through the slow death to self to birth in our new life in Christ. Further, his use of Scripture to allow Scripture to speak for itself is absolutely refreshing. About half way through the book, Smith utilizes the story of John 4 and the women at the well with Jesus (the entire story) interweaving other stories about her journey and the journey we all take to become the right side people who will bring hope to an upside down world.

Overall, the writing was clean and clear. It was an easy read for someone who may be new in Christ to those who are needing to be reminded of why we serve Jesus – for the poor, hurting, imprisoned, and downcast. The pace is rapid and yet at the end of each chapter you can stop to answer the reflection questions. One oddity, the only one really, which popped out at me was the book simply ends. The pace and story was so such a journey that in my opinion could have ended with a more profound criscendo. I would compare it to hearing a wonderful speaker who gets only an hour to share and ends leaving you wanting more, even after an hour! Smith’s ending was one that seems like he simply came to an ending, but not really the ending the book deserves.

I would highly recommend this book to four types of people:

  1. Pastors who desire to see more compassion ministry being done in their church and town.
  2. Nonprofit leaders who need inspiration to keep on doing what they do best.
  3. Youth and/or young adult pastors who speak to the next generation of leaders who need to hear this message.

And the fourth person is the most needed and unique:

4. Those who work with men and women in prisons, homeless shelters, juvenile programs, and inner city ministries because they can benefit in such a special way from the encouraging message of Efrim Smith.

Killing Us Softly is as much a message for Christ followers to die to self as much as it is a call to living a reborn life empowering the least of these. Further, it is a message to help empower the least of these to reach the least of these. Who better to reach those in prisons, shelter, and in poverty than those in the same position. WHo said God can’t empower them to do so? If that thought made you stop and think for a moment, than read this book to take the idea deeper. You won’t regret it!

Smith, Efrem. Killing Us Softly: Reborn in the Upside-Down Image of God. Colorado Springs; Navpress, 2017. 275pp. $14.99.

*I was provided this book at no cost for reviewing purposes. 



This originally appeared on my Facebook wall, but I wanted to share it with a broader audience. Those who read my posts deserve to know the voices behind my voice that have shaped me.

Plus, I hope everyone would start doing #ThankfulThursday posts all year long and not simply the token month of November.

#ThankfulThursday: I am thankful for Bob and Sharla Roche. When people see me leading today, they have no idea the issues I had in the past. People often think leaders just pop out leading and doing good in life, but every leader I have ever met has a rich heritage of people who came alongside them and smoothed out their misunderstandings, rough edges, and idiosyncrasies.

Bob and Sharla put up with my teenage mood swings, my resistance to authority, and my tendency to over-react. They also taught and demonstrated to me what a Christian man looks likes and how he behaves, what a church leader should focu on, and what a solid marriage looks like. They gave me my first paying youth pastor job after college, and smoothed out my post-college I know everything attitude, my propensity to over-think and plan, plan, plan instead of actually doing something, and especially my love for peoples of other cultures and social economic status.

In Chicago, Bob and Sharla were living out and teaching Lynette and I that #BlackLivesMatter #LatinoLivesMatter and #PoorLivesMatter before it was the “cool and popular” thing to do. (We didn’t even have social media or hashtags back then…LOL).

So when you look at a leader today and give them praise, I hope that leader is doing what I am doing, and saying thank you, but also reflecting back to the men and women who loved, guided, and shaped them before they ever had a leadership platform of their own.

My challenge for all is to think of the people, institutions, books, teachers, businesses, conferences, and so much more that has shaped you and post a #ThakfulThursday posts each week till the end of the year (not just November when everyone expects us to be thankful).

#Legacy #LeadershipMakesAllTheDifference #Leadership #Discipleship#Church #Ministry #LeadingHappy

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