Thursday, August 21, 2008

Review: Good to Great in God's Eyes

Is being both humble and great a contradiction? To be honest, I've thought yes. But that assumption gets challenged in Chip Ingram's book, Good to Great in God's Eyes.

After reading Jim Collin's best selling business book, Good to Great, Ingram got to wondering: What are the 10 most common practices of great Christians? Here's what he discovered:
  • Think great thoughts
  • Read great books
  • Pursue great people
  • Dream great dreams
  • Pray great prayers
  • Take great risks
  • Make great sacrifices
  • Enjoy great moments
  • Empower great people
  • Develop great habits
On the surface, this book looks like any other self-help book that could mudslide into a Joel Osteen book, basically telling you to just try harder. But Ingram roots his advice in Scripture, illustrates his points with good stories and advice, and doesn't promise you'll be rich in the end.

My only criticism is someone can do all these things, yet Ingram doesn't explicitly discuss the role God plays. Whatever great things we accomplish is entirely due to God's sovereignty. One's giftedness also is a factor. Practicing these 10 attributes certainly puts us in a position to bear fruit, but it doesn't guarantee it. Jesus says the good seed multiplies, "thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times." My point is this: Even the degree of people's "success" is a matter determined by God.

For someone like me, who isn't a type-A driven personality, struggles with vision, and doesn't frequently feel successful, knowing that God ultimately determines our success makes it tempting to just be mediocre, go with the flow, and not really make a plan. But is that really an alternative? The most persuasive reason Ingram offers to go from "good" to "great" in God's eyes is in the introduction:
"When I ask believers if they want to be great Christians, they seem afraid to answer the question... (it seems) arrogant... Yet what's the alternative? Should we aspire to be mediocre Christians? Is it really prideful to want to honor God with lives of great faith and excellent work?"
I'm going to let that question sink deeper into my spirit.

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