Monday, December 15, 2008

The Truth About You by Marcus Buckingham

Marcus Buckingham, a successful speaker and author, has crafted a mini seminar on finding our strengths. The 22 minute DVD that comes in this toolkit is captivating. While Buckingham inspires us with his words, we view the story of a young man who is good at one discipline yet is highly motivated to move to another discipline. This visual story highlights a myth Buckingham points out: our strengths are not what we are good at and our weaknesses are not what we are bad at. Our strengths are what energize us and our weaknesses are what drain us (whether we are good at the particular tasks or not). Unlike those who may have told us that to advance we have work on our weaknesses, Buckingham encourages us to play to our strengths. Our strengths are what will energize us, make us feel fulfilled, and advance us in our work. A successful team is one where each player plays in his strong position.
Buckingham has a plan where we pay attention for a week to those activities that we look forward to doing and energize us, as well as recognizing those activities that drain us. A “rememo” pad is included in the toolkit to help with these observations. Evaluating the notes we’ve made during the week will help us determine our strengths and be able to write three clear strength statements.
Buckingham emphasizes that each of us has strengths, no one else has exactly the same strengths we do, we will be the most creative and resilient when we play to our strengths and everyone will win when we do so. He reminds us to start the day thinking of our strengths and how we can contribute to them today.
Buckingham also reminds us of the risks involved. Supervisors may not understand when we describe our strengths and weaknesses. (Buckingham’s advice goes against some commonly accepted career strategies.) The money may not be there right away. Working in our strengths, however, will make us better at our job and will lead to advancement in the long run.
This toolkit is great for those entering the career market or for those making a change in careers. Buckingham estimates that eight out of ten people are not working in their strengths in their career. Going through this toolkit will help each of us to find fulfilling and energizing career paths. This is not a book to merely read (although we’ll read it through several times). This is a toolkit with which to work over time, developing our strengths into a fulfilling life of work.
Take the challenge. Find out the truth about you, who you really are.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bon Appetit by Sandra Byrd

This is the second in the Lexi Stuart series. In the first one, Let Them Eat Cake, Lexi gets a job at a French bakery in Seattle. In this book, Lexi is in France going to pastry school and working in the French bakeries,origins of the Seattle one. There is a bit of romance, much of Lexi relying on God and a great deal to learn about French pastry. While eating all of those delicious creations, how do they not get fat? A fun read.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Less than Dead by Tim Downs

This is the latest in the "Bugman" series. Nick is asked by the FBI to look into recent graves found on top of older graves in rural Virginia. The land in which the graves were discovered is owned by a popular senator soon to be running for president. The recently buried skeletons show evidence of murder and Nick sets out to find the murderer. He engages the help of a "witch," a young woman recluse who trains cadaver dogs. The plot thickens as another murder ensues and the less than perfect heritage of the senator and his wife is exposed. There is no overt Christianity in this book although there is a Bible reference to the witch of Endor at the beginning of the book. Downs is back to his engaging style of portraying Nick and the other quirky characters.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Quitting Church by Julia Duin

Duin was a newspaper reporter for years and is now the religion editor of The Washington Times. She is one of the thousands of Christians who has not abandoned her Christian faith, but has abandoned the church. Duin sensed for some time that there was something not right about the church. Scores of Christians are leaving the brick and mortar church and developing a subculture of authentic faith.
Some say church has nothing to do with their actual lives (p. 33). John Eldredge, who took a year off from church, called church a "numbing" experience (p. 170). The church is not bringing people into a genuine encounter with God, Eldredge says. He claims, "It's mature Christians who have opted out of the church" (p. 170). Eldredge has found his spiritual needs met in a home church.
The truly reflective and intelligent Christians are finding the church irrelevant. Singles and women are marginalized in the church organization and structure.
Rather than being just another church bashing book, Duin is truly concerned about the state of today's church. While she does not give and real answers to the problems, I think every pastor should read this book to know how those people who used to sit in the pews of his church really feel.