Monday, October 17, 2005
by Rick Stilwell* at Caffeinated Adventures
Pastor Ed Young has written a book to recapture a sense of real self-esteem and properly placed self-worth. Unfortunately, YOU! (copyright 2005, Howard Publishing Company) feels more like a sermon series that moves one powerpoint slide too long to really hold the congregation's attention. If someone needs this book to find a way out of self-loathing depression, let them skip to chapter ten, p. 127 - where the truths of scripture, when balanced in context with a real focus on the Lord, are laid out pretty plain and clear. The rest of the work leading to that point falls short in book form. There's a deeper book in there somewhere, and I was hoping for more.
My first thought, while reading the introduction and first chapters, was that the title and cover art will probably not grab the interest of the people who would benefit from this type of encouragement. Instead, if this book caters to those who already think too highly of themselves or place too much value on Me/Myself/I will find in this book something for YOU to make more of YOU then YOU really should be doing. I know folks who need to be able to learn that God loves them, that He values and appreciates them as a part of His creation, as His workmanship.
But there are some inconsistencies that bothered me. One of them is the use of sermon bulletpoints: I always abhor all alliteration, and when chapter one speaks of the Treadmills of Style, Status and Success, it was too much for me. Another place where it just felt mish-mashed for me was in making the point that God wants to use us, dsiplay us for His glory. After writing about how those three paths for finding value will leave one still insecure and feeling unloved (style, status and success do not work - he's right in putting that in print), there's another illustration later on of what we would do with a priceless work of art. "... would you keep that painting buried in the basement covered in cheesecloth? No! You'd hang that painting in the most prominent area of your home so it could be enjoyed by everyone who saw it" (p. 31). But wouldn't that be somewhere close to the style/status/success thing we're trying to avoid? A third type of inconsistency for me was the under-usage of scripture - not that the Bible is left out, but that it's not a bigger part of the discussion and presentation from the beginning.
That's just me - I'm being picky, I know, and I apologize. I wanted to like this book, to have it rise above where I just knew it would be going. We live in a feel good society that already thinks it's all about YOU. But as I wrote earlier, I know people who need this book, those self-aggrandizing and those self-hating - I just think they need it written in a different way. Young's statement that the biggest question we're asking in life is "Do I matter to anyone?" (p. 13) is probably too narrow, feeds too much on the self-centered selfishness that's at the root of what we do wrong in this world. While the advice is good, it's just that: advice, to be taken or not taken. There's no weight beyond the alliteration and storytelling. What if we'd been able to dig together a little more into biblical stories of David and Moses, maybe followed their journeys of discovery and self-worth in the eyes of God.
Final recommendation: if YOU are drawn to the title YOU, then YOU probably don't need to buy this book. If however, you feel like you don't matter and everyone including God has passed you by, then pick this book for a good week of reading, taking the time in reading to also dive into the scriptures and the stories there of people being valued beyond themselves by the God who loves you deeply, too.
(*Note: Review posted here by permission. Thanks, Rick. Good word. I'll refrain from chanting You You You and pointing to your blog in acknowledgement. lgp :-)