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Monday, December 10, 2012

"The Greatness Principle" (Nelson Searcy)

TITLE: Greatness Principle, The: Finding Significance and Joy by Serving Others
AUTHOR: Nelson Searcy with Jennifer Dykes Henson
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012, (112 pages).

What makes a great life? What does it take to move from mediocrity to exceptional? Many management gurus have consistently taught that success is only one part of the equation of life. There needs to be more. Like the late Stephen Covey, who has advocated a movement from success to significance, this book points to a similar direction. The greatness principle in the book is simply this: "When you bless others, God blesses you."

We all have a deep longing to do things that really matter, to be significant, to have a life that is beyond mere happiness or self-satisfaction. We want purpose. We desire to make an impact. The author begins by doing a quick survey of what makes the great men throughout history such great people. All of these point one toward the discovery of one "dominant guiding principle." This book is to encourage readers not only to discover that, but to live that out to the full. Greatness is not some coincidental happening or luck in action. It is the disciplined and intentional practice of one key personal principle. This can be discovered in the process of becoming more observant of life, in particular, to be more conscientious of opportunities, especially those that we can make a major contribution of impact. Simply put, if we are not noticing enough, we will be missing opportunities. Searcy points out six different ways Jesus teaches about noticing life.

  1. Hunger: opportunities to feed the hungry
  2. Thirst: opportunities to quench the thirst of others
  3. Stranger: Opportunities to show hospitality
  4. Naked: Opportunities to clothe others
  5. Sick: Opportunities to care
  6. Imprisoned: Opportunities to visit

Then there are the five primary ways to bless others.

  1. Give of one's time to others
  2. Sharing one's talents
  3. Investing one's treasures
  4. Encouragement
  5. Proclaiming one's testimony.
Then there is the practice of "positive expectation," one that expects God to work mightily, and bless richly. Then there is the affirmation that love is the highest motivation for good works. There is also an interesting Princeton "Good Samaritan" study that tracks the kinds of people who stopped to help a disheveled homeless man. The three groups of people have different levels of urgency on their assignments. It was found that 63% of people who had extra time in their presentation, stopped to help. Of those who had just enough time for their own assignments, 45% stopped to help. For the third group who were told that they were already late, only 10% stopped to help the man who pretended to be helpless and homeless. The study highlights how our self-interests tend to downplay the greater needs of others. 

Finally, Searcy gives a list of helpful practical steps to start with.
  1. How to encourage people?
  2. How to help someone in need?
  3. How to invite people to church?
  4. How to connect with our family?
  5. How to pray for others?
  6. How to serve our city?
  7. Why attending church is vital to growing the greatness principle?
My Thoughts

The book looks deceptively simple and small. Boy it packs a wallop in terms of practical steps to be more other-centered. There are many inspiring examples of people who have actually done that. It shows readers that it is possible. There are plenty of steps to do some good in our society. It gives readers no excuse about not knowing where to start or what to do. There are biblical bases for the teachings in the book. It gives readers the assurance that the book is biblical. There is an opportunity for everyone to be great according to what they have been created. It gives readers an encouragement to search for it. There is a great need in this world for more people to live significantly for others. It inspires readers to be that person.

Searcy has given us a quick start guide to awaken our sleepy lives into action. Far too many people are living either lives of desperation or simply going through lifestyles of mediocrity. Some of us need a kick start. Some of us need to kick ourselves. Yet, others may need a kick on their backside. This book provides that kick. It can be read in one sitting, because, when you read it, you cannot just sit there and do nothing. You want to get up and do something. Maybe, its small size is also meant not to bog down any reader into inaction, but to spur one to greater service for others.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Baker Books and Graf-Martin Communications in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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