If you’ve just lost everything and have nothing but the shirt on your back, you still have a lot to give; you can choose to live your entire life as a gift, whether you feel as if you have a lot to offer or not; live to give, and you will be surprised at the resources you have, according to Brad Formsma in his book I Like Giving: The Transforming Power of a Generous Life. The book is a collection of stories and observations on the joys and benefits of generosity.
Key observations made by the author include:
When we choose to give, we change and the people around us change
To enter into the joy of giving, you have to be willing to go on a journey that will be scary and uncomfortable at times
No matter how successful you are, it is giving your life away to others that makes you happy
It is good to be wise in our giving, but we want to be sure that filters don’t rob us of life-giving opportunities to give
When you give to others and they seem to waste it, it’s discouraging, but loving someone else never goes to waste
Giving is something you get to do, not something you’ve got to do
Although the author indicates that he is a Christian, this is not specifically a Christian book. The benefits described apply equally to secular people. Nonetheless, generosity is a key distinguishing feature of a mature Christian lifestyle. The book focuses on the benefits to the giver and although it discusses the possibilities of a gift being refused or wasted, it does not explore in detail the ways in which gifts can have unexpected negative effects, as discussed for example in Toxic Charity.
In a world which seems to be increasingly individualistic and self-centred, where face-to-face community is being replaced by Facebook friendships and competition for the most followers and likes, this book provides an important an inspiring counter-cultural message, and I highly recommend it.
Organisations need a single, reliable guiding principle to ensure that all their marketing and communications efforts make a sustained impact, and that principle can be summed up in a single word: relevance, according to Andrea Coville and Paul Brown in their book Relevance: The Power to Change Minds and Behavior—and Keep You Ahead of the Competition. But most people tend to put too much emphasis on the practical aspect of relevance, and not enough on the social aspect.
Building a company inevitably leads to tight jams and tough times; there is no recipe for really complicated, dynamic situations, for building a high-tech company, for leading a group of people out of trouble, or for motivating teams when your business has gone bad, according to Ben Horowitz in his book The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers. The book describes the author’s story and the lessons he learnt along the way as a tech entrepreneur, CEO and venture capitalist.
If you want to be standing upright when the pillars of your faith are rocked repeatedly back and forth, when everything that you’ve believed about God and the Bible is called into mocking question, you need to understand how solid the ground beneath your Christian beliefs actually is, according to Andreas Köstenberger, Darrell Bock and Josh Chatraw in their book Truth Matters: Confident Faith in a Confusing World.
The authors seek to provide answers to a range of propositions arising from the work of popular author and scholar Professor Bart Ehrman, such as:
The Bible was put together to suit an agenda
Your Bible doesn’t contain the real words of God after all
The Bible can’t seem to keep its own story straight
The whole basis of Christianity is in question
God doesn’t care. Maybe God isn’t even there
The book is reasonably short, and the writing style is appropriately engaging for its target audience, young Christians who are about to head off to college and about to come into contact with a more sceptical world. However, the subject matter is limited mainly to issues dealing with the reliability of the New Testament manuscripts; the book does not provide ready answers to many of the broader attacks being raised by atheistic philosophers on the whole idea of religious belief.
The unemployment figures do not actually tell us about the state of unemployment in a country, GDP figures do not actually give us an accurate measurement of the health of a country’s economy, and the trade deficit between the United States and China may actually be a trade surplus, according to Zachary Karabell in his book The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World.
The point of greatest peril in the development of a high-tech market lies in making the transition from an “early market” dominated by a few visionary customers to a “mainstream market” dominated by a large block of customers who are predominantly pragmatists in orientation, according to Geoffrey Moore in the third edition of his book Crossing the Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Consumers. The gap between early and mainstream markets is what the author refers to as the “chasm”, and many entrepreneurial businesses have fallen into it.
In the era of Big Bang Disruption, new disrupters attack existing markets not just from the top, bottom and sides, but from all three at once; their offerings can be simultaneously better, cheaper and more customised, according to Larry Downes and Paul Nunes in their book Big Bang Disruption: Strategy in the Age of Devastating Innovation. If you want to avoid becoming a victim, you need to learn how to create, launch and compete using your own Big Bang disruptions.
Self-esteem is a failed ideology, the “science” is based on a statistical fallacy, there is little evidence that efforts to promote self-esteem work, and in its popular form of “boosterism”, self-esteem promotion comes with hazardous and unwanted side effects, according to Glynn Harrison in his book Ego Trip: Rediscovering Grace in a Culture of Self-Esteem. We need a wholly different approach to the age-old question of how we should think about ourselves.
These statements are quite shocking, given the extent to which the importance of self-esteem is accepted unquestioningly in modern culture. According to the author:
Self-esteem ideology exploded into popular culture in the 1960s and 1970s as an explanation for just about everything that psychologists, educationalists and politicians worry about;
In the 1980s, programs for boosting children’s self esteem were integrated into school classrooms around the world;
Churches embraced self-esteem ideology by catering to attendees’ narcissistic obsessions with choice and individuality;
By the mid-1990s, the average child had a higher self-esteem than 73% of children from 1979;
However, although today’s young Americans are more confident, assertive and entitled than ever, then are also more miserable than ever before;
Statistically validated research reveals no causal link between low self-esteem and risky sexual behaviour, drug abuse, and anti-social behaviour;
In fact, anti-social behaviours are often linked with excessive self-belief and self-regard;
There has been a significant rise in extreme narcissistic behaviours in recent years, although there is not sufficient evidence to conclude that the self-esteem movement is the primary cause.
So, what is the answer? According to the author, the answer for Christians is to change their mindset from a focus of “what’s good for me” to one of what’s good for God’s kingdom or what’s good for God’s glory. Like happiness, true significance is discovered in aiming for something else.
This is a challenging and thought-provoking book, which deserves to be read widely, particularly by Christians involved in church leadership, counselling and education.
Followers want to know that the aim toward which they move is important and meaningful, according to Tim Irwin in his book Impact: Great Leadership Changes Everything. Even in the military and the corporate world, which remain organizationally hierarchical, people follow leaders with high commitment only when the leader is profoundly trustworthy and when he or she pursues a clear and compelling purpose.