Spark Book Review

Donnie Hinshaw

4 Stars

July 10, 2014

Maybe I am a little over-optimistic as I read through different books. I like a lot of books because I believe I can get something from just about any book out there. The point in reading for me, outside of shear pleasure, is to engage new thoughts, ideas, and concepts that I would have never embraced or realized on my own. I have read many reviews on Jason Jaggard’s book titled Spark: Transform Your World, One Small Risk at a Time. Some of them are claiming it hits the mark in spark-ing their imagination of risks they would like to take while leaving the risky results to the reader. In other words, this is not a self-help or step-by-step book on risk taking, but rather a book that is intended to spark the imagination of good in its readers.Some of the reviews are touting a perspective that Jason completely misses the mark of Christian leadership because they claim he sides with a more emergent and soft perspective on risk taking that removes the power of the Holy Spirit and limits our voice of Christian faith and doctrine. 

My perspective of the book doesn’t match either one. I don’t fully think about or process life like Jason or any other reader/review out there on his book. I think uniquely and beautifully on my own. I am not blogging about this book to bash or celebrate the writer. My perspective is to relay my own understanding, both formative and developed, of how I live my life with a purpose to glorify God. I believe if my life is lived out to glorify God and bring others into a community of faith that does the same, it will be a great risk by worldly standards. 

Jason introduces the book by quoting a line found in most recovery circles: â€It is said in recovery culture that people change when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of changing.” He claims the line is insightful, but more, it’s a little depressing. True, it’s a little depressing, but it is also the element by which people change the most. I wish our world was better, but in reality, when you look at some of the things we see every night on the news, it is depressing. The best news is  that God is always in the redemption business and redemptive positive change often comes from depressing news. We live in a world that is broken and fallen. We also live in a world in which God is always at work to redeem and fulfill the lives of the broken. We just have to be willing to get on board with God’s “good work”, which will require a spark. 

The opposite reality of pain is pleasure. What I believe Jason is attempting to do is tap into the optimistic perspective of what it looks like to live life with our eyes wide open regardless of the world, culture, or context we live in. People will always respond to someone who is promoting joy and peace. Thank goodness we live in a world in which God gives us the ability and right to do something that will bring positive life to others. It takes a great risk to move into places where unhealthy lifestyles are the norm and bring a healthy positive perspective that promotes a life of joy and peace in Christ. I believe there is greatness in everyone, but that greatness often has to be pulled out by people who believe in that greatness. Christ died on the cross because He believed that if we could be free of condemnation (Rom. 8), we could be free to live without fear and with confidence. The greatness within us then has nothing hindering its progression. Live helping others. Live solving problems. Live to cure loneliness in others. Live because of untapped potential in others. Live to silence fear. Live to walk with others in deeper experiences with God. The point of this book for me, is to spark life and more aptly the God given, God breathed life that can actually bring positive change to any place and context. That life is found only in a committed life to love God and people in the process.

So what risks are required to spark transformational change? According to the author there are four steps for a risk to materialize into a movement of change.

  1. Immediate- something you will do in the next six days.
  2. Controllable- something that is within your power to do.
  3. Challenging- something that stretches your comfort zone.
  4. Positive- something that makes your life or the world better

The one point in this protocol that separates our good and bad risk taking is that it must be positive and make the lives of others around you better including yourself. I love this point. I believe there are unbelievably creative and talented people in our world that are using their gifts as sparks for moral and immoral purposes alike. For instance, it takes a very creative and inventive person to steal. Stealing, if you are going to succeed at literally ripping someone off, has to be premeditated and thought out. The same is true if your creativity is going to bring positive change. It will take an immediate desire, a controllable process, a challenging path, and a positive result if your creative risk taking is going to bring joy to yourself and others. The creativity it takes to get someone to steal can be harnessed and cultivated for bringing joy and peace in the name of Christ. Some of the most creative people in history were criminals, thieves, and murderers. What if the creative genius of those well-known criminals could have been transformed for creative good? The “what if’s” are ours to walk in.

Chapter 7 speaks to these themes.

Although this book lacked in keeping my attention at times, overall it was a good read. If you are looking for a book with deep theological and scriptural truth on transformational leadership, you might be a little disappointed. This book seems geared for a younger generation that is looking to make their mark while struggling to find the right path that will lead them. I believe the book could have led those people a little deeper in the biblical narrative, particularly in some of the early church leaders in Acts, as a way of establishing his points a little better. I personally was wanting a little more of this myself. But, that is just me. 

Like I said, I think differently than Jason and any other person willing to write a review. The point of the book sparked enough in me to write a review, now I need to let it ignite change in my world. It is in Christ’s name I will bring that spark.

I received this book free from Multnomah Books as part of their Blogger Review 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.”