More short book reviews

41msZhS8f1L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ Haverim – Paul Clayton Gibbs 

I read this one on recommendation and came away encouraged but not blown away. This book is a great place to start if you are new to leading a small group bible study and will give plenty to get your teeth into, practically as well as for thinking. It lays out good practice, handy tips and a philosophy of learning that would be good for more people to adopt. 7/10


Image 10-04-2018 at 09.29Canoeing the Mountains – Tod Bolsinger

A book on leadership that bounces off the story of explorers, Lewis and Clark, and utilises the experiences of the author in dealing with new and unexpected challenges. There are the usual aspects of leadership theory, good practical helps and a solid framework on which it all hangs. A well written book that will provide good resonance for leaders who need a level of creativity. 8/10


“Am I Missing Something?” – Ruth Roberts (book review)

Reading the book Am I Missing Something which is also subtitled “Christianity through the eyes of a new believer” was quite fun. As someone who has been a Christian for a number of years, it is very easy to forget what a challenge our faith and it’s practices can be like for those who are new to its strange ways. Ruth Roberts, a journalist, has an easy style of writing and in a wonderfully conversational way deals with the “Christianity that seems constantly at war with itself” whilst having made “a commitment to God… try to find Jesus and keep my eyes fixed on him”.
The book is simple, yet effective, in reminding us how ‘odd’ our church practices and beliefs can seem to those who are not familiar and it resonates with how many of my friends feel at my church and my beliefs. Ruth does not give theological answers but shares her own experiences and how she overcame some of the tensions. My favourite story was when Ruth was challenging herself to be more proactive in her witness, felt guilty for not being as upfront as she felt she ought but saw a great response as she sat silently with someone and their response was “thank you for noticing me”, a precious moment.
I was given this book by Ruth in a twitter giveaway, not a book that I would necessarily have chosen but one that prompted me to think differently, I enjoyed it as a refreshing reminder as we look to disciple new believers in the church. Ruth’s honesty and openness was appreciated and I imagine her thoughts and feelings would be shared by many who have begun their new life in Christ.
As a collection of shorter articles for Christianity magazine, this book is the completed selection.

Book Review – dont step on the rope – leadership

Another leadership book you cry! Yes, another, yet somehow this one seemed worthy of a review, I enjoyed the read and found it useful.

In truth, this book is about leadership within teams and uses the analogy of Walter Wrights own rope teams to make his point  You do not have to be a mountaineer to follow the examples and the stories and most of the points that are underlined are filled with anecdotes from Wrights time walking the mountain trail.

The usual leadership points are made; relationships, responsibility, accountability etc. but there are some fresh ones too such as shared memories and humour, forgotten traits in many leadership tool boxes.

The book is easy to read, challenges in a gentle manner and is a good starter for a young leader who is exploring what it means to ‘step up to the plate’ and take responsibility.  By the end, you may even want to try some mountain trails yourself.

Book Review “In Sheep’s Clothing”

This book subtitled “In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People""” was bought on a whim but has proved to be most helpful.  We all have those people in our lives (family, friends, colleagues) that we struggle to cope with or trust but are uncertain as to why – our gut instinct is strong on the warning signs but the actual evidence is lacking.  This book highlights a distinctive type of person – the ‘covert aggressive”.  In highlighting a number of case studies the book is very practical and a quick read.  Its conclusions are helpful but in terms of the book, quite short and pithy with little meat on the bones.  Definitely worth a read though.

In a little more detail:

The book is split into 2 parts, the first concentrating on understanding manipulative personalities and the second part on dealing effectively with manipulative people.  The case studies are extremely helpful in terms of the way they are written and it is not difficult to see traits in anyone you meet.  The danger is that you may begin labelling everyone that you meet, when in fact not everyone is ‘guilty as charged’.  If you know of people who fit the character traits there are useful approaches in how to counter their manipulation but to most seasoned observers they are common sense.

All in all a useful tome that may be helpful to help search your own soul.  I am glad that it reached my booklist and am certain that it will be one that I refer to on more than one occasion in the future.

no more consultants

Enjoyed reading this little book.  It may be obvious why I chose to read it by the title but the truth is – the title is mis-leading.  The subtitle is a more accurate reflection of the book as it underlines the truth that, ‘we know more than we think’.

Much of the book reflects on a consultation that the writers did with BP and others and uses a system they developed – it is a useful tool but personally found that the value of the book lay in some old nuggets of gold that were brought back to the attention.  The essence is that, people with whom you work have knowledge that can be shared – use it before you get the consultants in.

Some quotes to give a flavour;

Say to yourself, ‘someone out there has already done what I am about to do.  I wonder who, and what community, I should ask’

All too often we look to problem solve rather than look for a strength to build on and report.

The politics in some organisations can generate a culture in which people are reluctant to offer up good practices because they are afraid of the personal cost

People spend pennies in mining their own internal knowledge and expertise compared to the multi-millions spent on going outside first.

A handy little tome but not one that everyone will find useful – it just may be that you have the answers yourself, or in your team.