By Matt Snyder
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked up this book. I’m already ridiculously skeptical of self-help books because I already think that I have it all together that I don’t want someone else telling me how to live life better. Sometimes they make you feel like a complete screw-up and other times they make you feel like you have it all together.
So, Heroic Living caught my attention initially because it seemed like just that: very heroic. In reading the title I immediately had the impression that the book was going to outline a strategy for me to go shatter darkness and truly leave a lasting impact without making me feel worthless.
I started reading and Chris Lowney begins his book this way, “You were born to change the world.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Lowney shares with his readers the importance of figuring out what their purpose in life is so that they can go leave a lasting impact. Being a former Jesuit and employee of J.P. Morgan, Lowney uses wisdom from Ignatius of Loyola as well as business based case studies as a guide into figuring out what we are called to do as individuals and how we should center our lives around specific principles.
I’m the kind of person who likes to think that I’m principle-centered in such a way that every decision I make is really a decision that Jesus would make. It’s the ideal way to live as a Christian, right? “What would Jesus do?” And while I tried that for a while in high school when it was the popular thing to do, I realized that it didn’t work. Oftentimes my decisions hurt people, not helped them.
Lowney suggests that we think smaller. We don’t have to change the world with every step we take. In other words, I don’t have to sell everything and give it to the poor to make a difference in the world. I just need to show love and genuine care in my day-to-day actions. Lowney says, “each of us, whatever our livelihood, can repair the world by treating each person as equally dignified… doing so will transform our everyday encounters in taxis, supermarkets, or conference rooms… these will become expressions of a spiritual purpose that pulls our life together and fills it with meaning” (p. 63).
The way that I understand it is that we need to let love permeate every area of our lives. It’s the Golden Rule: Love your neighbor as yourself. I think that Lowney just puts it into other words… and into a 194 page book.
Heroic Living reminded me a lot of Stephen Covey’s book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People in the sense that it encouraged us to order our lives around something in an attempt that we can be more effective in leaving a mark on the world. But whereas I feel like Covey’s book is more focused on the individual, I feel like Lowney’s book is focused more on the community surrounding the individual. It starts inward and moves outward with true intention, but without the strategy that Covey give his readers.
So was this a self-help book worth reading? If you’ve never read Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, then Heroic Living might just be for you. But if you’ve ever read anything about why your life should be principle-centered, you can probably pass on this one. Truth be told, I didn’t gather anything new.
Matt is an ordinary radical who just finished an 11-month, 11-country pilgrimage around the globe with the World Race. In early January he’s moving to Port Huron, MI to work on staff with the same organization. Matt loves to see the Kingdom of God manifest itself in the most unlikely places through his own life. He loves Jesus and hopes that you do, too.