Formation: A Review and a word

How to use the F word, part 4
October 11, 2013
What Children Remember
November 3, 2013


Formation is a critically good word that sometimes is used too often and sometimes not enough. Yet, it’s a good, artistic word that carries richness and depth. Formation involves change, development, and the transition from one phase to another. Formation can be spiritual, professional, practical, and can be centered on leadership, discipleship, or simply the voyage we take across the river Styx where our bodies change for the last time. You can think of it, as I often do, as ‘From-ation’….it’s always from one place to another. To be formed also implies an activity outside ourselves. We don’t form or mold ourselves, but we can definitely put ourselves in the position to be formed by words, people, places, and ideas. Even sex implies formation where new life can spring forth (be formed) or the mysterious oneness between lovers where a line is crossed and something else is created that just wasn’t there before. At the end of this post, I will summarize with a quote, but until then, let me share a book review before challenging your worldview.


Live 10: Jump Start the Best Version of Your Life (by Terry A. Smith)

I read a lot of books on leadership and probably for two main reasons. First, leaders are readers and observers so simply mining the books for quotes is good fun. Secondly, leaders are formed in the crucible of trial, error, wisdom, and foolishness. In other words, they are built from the inside out. Terry Smith’s latest offering entitled Live 10 initially did not intrigue me. The title is a sub-culture title referencing a verse or chapter and therefore the audience will be more homogenous than usual. With that said, Smith makes some solid points that I wish would get more attention.

Early in the book, Smith writes, “It amazes me how passively many people of faith live–as if we have no control over anything, no ability to make the slightest difference,” (p. 23). And he’s right. There’s a cynical, Christian fatalism that often pervades churches and thus the countercultural life is abandoned for the capitalist, upper middle class life of material wealth and convenience. This doesn’t get a lot of attention and only Paul Miller and Dick Keyes have addressed it head on with any depth (to my knowledge).

Near the end of the book, Smith makes this point: “Many people who are gifted with leadership are not inclined ‘to show mercy’. Leaders want to get things done,” (p. 133). Again, I wish Smith would spend more time here because mercy doesn’t get talked about much, but his point is important because throughout the blogosphere, leaders are told how to get things done, be more productive, but the idea of “I desire mercy not sacrifice” gets lost.

Overall, Smith’s book is above average in a cluttered genre. Divided in to 7 parts and 30 chapters, though, will seem daunting to those leaders used to quicker reads and ‘on the go’ tips. I found much of the book agreeable, but in a home-cooked meal sort of way. It’s far more satisfying than fast food, but not necessarily a routine breaker either.

(I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review as part of the Booksneeze program)



A Quote from Dallas Willard:

“The greatest issue facing the world today, with all its heartbreaking needs, is whether those who, by profession or culture, are identified as ‘Christians’ will become disciples – students, apprentices, practitioners – of Jesus Christ, steadily learning from him how to live the life of the Kingdom of the Heavens into every corner of human existence.”


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