Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Book Review: "The Me I Want To Be"

This book by John Ortberg has very quickly become one of my favorites. I found a great deal of useable and practical material in it for both my personal life and for use in my leadership. The premise of the book is that, since God created us, the secret to finding fulfillment in life is to grow in our relationship with Him and to cooperate with Him. 

There are twenty two chapters in this book, so I will not do a synopsis of each. I will, however, list the chapter titles here. Then I will do a synopsis of the seven parts of the book.

  1. Learn Why God Made You
  2. The Me I Don't Want To Be
  3. Discover the Flow
  4. Find Out How You Grow
  5. Surrender: The One Decision That Always Helps
  6. Try Softer
  7. Let Your Desires Lead You To God
  8. Think Great Thoughts
  9. Feed Your Mind With Excellence
  10. Never Worry Alone
  11. Let Your Talking Flow Into Praying
  12. Temptation: How Not To Get Hooked
  13. Recognize Your Primary Flow-Blocker
  14. When You Find Yourself Out Of The Flow, Jump Back In
  15. Try Going Off The Deep End With God
  16. Make Life-Giving Relationships A Top Priority
  17. Be Human
  18. Find A Few Difficult people To Help You Grow
  19. Let God Flow In Your Work
  20. Let Your Work Honor God
  21. You Have To Go Through Exile Before You Come Back Home
  22. Ask For A Mountain
Each of these topics could make for an interesting blog (maybe I'll try that later), and John's engaging style holds your attention. Let's look at the different parts.

Part 1 - Finding My Identity
This section is made up of the first two chapters and focuses on understanding ourselves in light of God, and often in spite of ourselves - our past, our mistakes, our critics. We must recognize that, because God Made us, He knows why we were made and how we can be fulfilled. It speaks not of religion, but of a growing relationship with God. This quote perhaps says it best: "There is an enormous difference between following rules and following Jesus, because I can follow rules without following the right heart." (p. 28). The question for us then is, how do we (personally) best connect with God who gives life? We need to build those practices into our lives.

Part 2 - Flowing With The Spirit
Part 2 takes up the next four chapters and speaks of God's plan to release His life into you and I - His Holy Spirit. This speaks of the way in which we allow God to work in our lives. "Jesus does not come to rearrange the outside of our life the way we want. He comes to rearrange the inside of our life the way God wants." (p. 62). This involves surrender and learning how to cooperate with God's Spirit as He works in us. 

Part 3 - Renewing My Mind
The next four chapters deal with engaging our minds in the pursuit of God. Most people don't recognize that our spiritual life has a great deal to do with our thought life. Romans 12:2 is one of my life verses and is the key to this section: "Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think." The question is, what are we feeding our minds? Also, how do we manage our attitude, and avoid anxiety? The better we do in these areas the richer our lives become.

Part 4 - Redeeming My Time
The first of four chapters in this section succeeds in taking the mystery out of prayer. Prayer is communicating with God, and many people pray without realizing it. Making prayer a natural part of our lives is vital. The following chapters speak of being honest with ourselves - our personalities, our temptations, our sins, our needs. "We must identify and understand that which threatens our ability to flourish, and only sin can keep us from becoming the person God wants us to become." (p. 145).

Part 5 - Deepening My Relationships
Here we deal with the power of relationships, beginning with our relationship with God. There are levels of intimacy, and many settle for less than the best with God, who knows us better than we do ourselves. We also need others, and the depth of our relationships is up to us. Do we have life-giving relationships? "What distinguishes consistently happier people from less happy people is the presence of rich, deep, joy-producing, life-changing, meaningful relationships." (pp. 182-183). This again requires being honest with ourselves and with others and developing the ability to learn from everyone.

Part 6 - Transforming My Experience
This section speaks to integrating our spiritual life with our everyday life, recognizing that there is no difference in God's eyes. For this reason, God calls us to excellence and full engagement in every area of our lives. The last chapter of this section reminds us that, even in adversity, God is with us, and we are called to  recognize His presence, even in times of trouble.

Part 7 - Flowing From Here On Out
This final chapter and section challenges us to see life differently. It calls us to recognize that we are here for a reason and, therefore, to live our lives on purpose. What is it that God has placed in your hear to accomplish? What is keeping you from doing it? God and change your world.

This book includes many helpful charts and illustrations to assist in self-evaluation. I will be returning to this book often - highly recommended for everyone.

Related Articles:
Book Review: "The Harbinger"
Book Review: "Why Jesus?"
Some Books Worth Reading
Made For Relationship
Seven Keys For A Better Life



     
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