July Book Review
Last night, Our Shared Shelf Book club hosted its first online book club session and it was a success. We had 11 women join in, to participate in discussions on Pastor Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life and to share personal reflections on purposeful living and pursuing our passions.
About the Author & Book
The author Rick Warren is a senior pastor at Saddleback Church. His book sold over 32 million copies by 2012 and 50 million copies sold in more than 85 languages by 2020.
The book is a 40-day spiritual journey; he recognises the biblical importance of 40 days and it is designed to read a chapter a day for 40 days. The 5 Purposes outlined are:
1. You were planned for God’s pleasure (Christian pleasure)
2. You were formed for God’s family (Christian church)
3. You were created to become like Christ (Discipleship)
4. You were shaped for serving God (Christian ministry)
5. You were made for a mission (Christian mission)
The personal loss Pastor Rick faced following the success of his much-loved book is one that is difficult to comprehend. His book and tragic experience became the platform, which he leveraged to raise mental health awareness and support, especially in the church community.
It was noted that one of the biggest criticisms that Pastor Rick faced was how his book was intended to appeal to the masses, Christian and non-Christian audience and to that effect, he had ‘watered-down’ the gospel in the way Christianity was portrayed in his book.
The invigorating discussions that ensued did not share this perspective, but praised Pastor Rick for taking the gospel to the masses in the way he did. Personally his writing style is very effective - its draws you in gently, its so sincere and honest, leaving no room to manoeuvre yet equally ensuring that God's Word is not watered-down but preached fully. If the first chapter, ‘It Starts with God’ and first sentence, 'its not about you', didn't deter you then you are off to a good start. The seed is planted.
Rick Warren clearly states its an anti self-help book. The use of scripture throughout the book points us to the Saviour of the world and ignites or increases that fire within. The group discussion highlighted our role as Christians; to make Christianity relatable but deeply personal by the way we live. This book is for everyone, believers or non-believers alike including those who are new or returning and recommitting to the Christian faith, after all, everyone is seeking encouragement and meaning in every stage of life.
It also serves to help us reflect on our journey, sometimes we are required to take stock and be reminded of the purposes he outlined in his book. The discussion around how important is going to church (mentioned in purpose no.2), stirred up some powerful convictions. For most of the participants, it is the foundation of their faith whether it is planting yourself in a church or gathering with like-minded individuals to be encouraged in our Christian walk through fellowship and worship, recognising that we can't journey in our faith alone.
The second part of the session we invited everyone to share any insight on their SHAPE (Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, Experience) or what this meant to them. The feedback was really heart warming. Everything we do that brings so much joy is pleasing to God and in retrospect, everything we do should be according to His will and purpose for us. In other words, you are doing what is right and acceptable to Him.
We are all blessed with individual special gifts, unique and purposed for a specific season or situation. Pastor Rick points out that we don’t receive the full set of gifts, as God wants us to work together to bring about what He intended. Its brilliant! Too often, we compare our gifts to others or think little of what we have and this robs us of our purpose and joy. What we do with what God has blessed us with is important, stewardship springs to mind here. I couldn’t agree more. We get caught up trying to stand out, we think our service should be significant and we are all waiting for a special moment or sign. Or spend so much time trying to figure out our purpose.
Agreeably. the COVID19 pandemic has forced everyone out of their comfort zones. It has been a blessing in disguise. Lockdown has been a building block for most; it has provided the opportunity to unwrap spiritual gifts, to unlock hidden potential or simply to undertake reflective practice.
We’ve seen families spending more quality time together and small businesses grow. People are becoming increasingly resourceful, intentional and mindful of their wellbeing and happiness. Churches and its members are utilising technology to stay connected to Him and grow their faith. There’s been healing in relationships, communities coming together. We’ve seen people reaching out, helping out, giving back, starting out, and standing in the gap. In that midst of chaos, we’ve experienced far more clarity than ever before. The simple life of service is a purpose driven life.
*Our Shared Shelf book club was a collaborative initiative between Marama Alliance UK and The Platformm, that transpired out of shared values and a vision to inspire empathy and reflective reading within the Fijian community. Please check out Miriam Suraki's book review at The Platformm www.theplatformm.com.