The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns

Book cover - The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard StearnsThe book The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns is a call to action for Christians wrapped in the story of the author’s journey from the executive boardroom of a large and prestigious corporation in the east to the headquarters of World Vision U.S. in the state of Washington. This story in itself is an awe inspiring tale of following, and fighting, God’s will in his life. The more thought provoking part of this book however is what he shares about the level of poverty and disease outside our little corner of the world. He does this through the use of stories of the people and through the statistics surrounding them.

It is almost impossible to not be impacted by what Mr. Stearns shares about the world around us. He shares many unbelievable statistics, but manages to bring them into a context that we can grasp. For instance, he shares that 26,000 children die each and every day from preventable causes related to the poverty they live in. He compares this number to 100 jet liners crashing each day. Wouldn’t we be shocked by that headline if it happened even once, let alone every day?

He also shares statistics about the number of Christians in our nation and the amount of wealth that we have.  The amount of that wealth that we dedicate to helping those around the world is shockingly small. The Bible is full of verses regarding our duty as Christians to care for those around us and Mr. Stearns refers to many of the most powerful ones in his book. If we call ourselves followers of Christ, but are not acting on many of these commands, doesn’t that mean that there is a hole in our Gospel?

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The Question Behind the Question

QBQ Book CoverLate last year I attended a Financial Counselor program put on by Dave Ramsey’s team at his headquarters in Brentwood, TN. While we were there, we were given many great gifts throughout the several days of training. One of the gifts was the book QBQ by John G. Miller which Dave highly recommends and is required reading for his team. It’s a rather short book really, but it is PACKED with great information. It’s a very easy read and I highly recommend it to anyone.

The subtitle is “What to Really Ask Yourself to Eliminate Blame, Complaining, and Procrastination”. What it really boils down to is practicing personal accountability. I know that’s probably not what you wanted to hear. Everyone is looking for that magic bullet to help change “the other guy”. The reality though is that there is no such thing. The only person you have any power to change is yourself. The good news though is that by changing yourself, you will begin to influence change in those around you. You’ve got to start with yourself though.

The main point throughout the book is that you have got to stop looking at what went wrong, or who was responsible, and instead focus on what can I do to improve the situation. By taking this approach, you will gain the respect of those around you. If an entire organization enacts this policy, it will become a force to be reckoned with. Most businesses, churches, and other organizations could benefit greatly from this principle.

The example from the book that struck me the most had to do with a server at a Rock Bottom restaurant. The author had stopped in for lunch. The place was packed and he was in a hurry, so he grabbed a place at the bar. He had been there a few minutes without being served when a server carrying a tray of dirty dishes hurried by. The server suddenly stopped and backed up to ask if Mr. Miller had been served yet. He said he had not and that he just wanted a salad and some rolls. The server told him he could take care of that and what would he like to drink. Mr. Miller asked for a Diet Coke, but all they carried was Pepsi. Mr. Miller politely declined the Pepsi and said he’d just have a water with lemon instead. The server then left and reappeared shortly with his order, and just as quickly disappeared again. After a short period of time, the young man returned to Mr. Miller carrying a frosty bottle of Diet Coke! Later the author discovered that the server had explained the situation to the manager and had requested to be able to run to a nearby store and retrieve a Coke, which he had then done. He had even paid for it out of his own pocket!

Now, this young man was actually not even responsible for this area of the restaurant. He could have just said, that’s not my job and gone on about his duties of clearing his tables. Or he could have helped Mr. Miller, but laid on the blame for the server who should have been there. But he didn’t do any of these things. Not only did he provide expedient service, but then he went above and beyond the call of duty just to serve the author with his favorite frosty beverage!  Not surprisingly, many visits later, this young man was no longer a server. He had been moved up the ladder into management.

That is what personal accountability is all about. Don’t lay blame. Don’t do the minimum required. Go above and beyond the call and super-serve those around you. I guarantee you will feel better about yourself, and who knows, a little of that might even rub off and change those around you.