Monday, March 16, 2015

Skin in the Game by Rick Lawrence

I had difficulty understanding the content of this book and its connection with an emphasis on risk.

Lawrence begins his book by explaining the title. To have “skin in the game” means you have something invested in the effort. You are willing to accept some of the risk. He then reminds us that God has chosen us to be part of His work, to have “skin in the game.”

He then tells stories and gives illustrations to encourage us to invest in God's effort. This is where I lost much the connective reasoning. The first step, Lawrence writes, in entering the life Jesus offers is to face our shame. Rebirth is our only hope. Next we must receive grace, then embrace our true identity, next owning what we want, and then face our fears.

I think part of my disconnect with this book is because of the illustrations he uses. He gives the dialog from a sketch of Saturday Night Live to explain why we expect Jesus to be a dolphin instead of a shark. Lawrence uses the teachings of Gautama, the founder of Buddhism, to illustrate his own behavior after his fiancĂ©e broke off their engagement. Other illustrations include “The Little Albert Experiment” and the indie punk rocker Amanda Palmer. He uses his trip to Comic-Con to explain our craving for an identity to call our own. I appreciated his use of biblical stories and events from his own life to explore issues, but the illustrations from TV, Buddhism, and modern culture just left me cold.

You won't find much encouragement to “give your all” in this book. The message is a much more subtle one. Most of the book I would describe as about the psychology of having “skin in the game” rather than actually calling for it. The next to the last chapter, “Will You Make Jesus Your First and Last Resort?” is the best one. I do wish the rest of the book would have had the same punch.

Lawrence has included questions “For Discussion or Personal Reflection” at the end of each chapter. I think this is where the strength of this book lies. The material in this book would best be used in a discussion setting, using the illustrations Lawrence gives as a springboard for intense discussion.

You can read an excerpt here.

Rick Lawrence is the long time executive editor of Group Magazine, a speaker and church leader. He is also the author, co-author, or editor of over thirty-four books. Find out more at

Kregel Publications, 144 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.

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