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  • Writer's picturesonnyholmes

Life 101

OK, I'm not talking the birds and the bees. When I speak about the facts of life it's more about those realities that explain life as it is. These books aren't deep theology or biblical exposition. They're not fiction thrillers or romance novels. Non-fiction is their broad literary genre and they'll be found at the book store in varied topical aisles. I didn't read them because they were popular or even interesting. They landed on my Nook because they helped me understand what is going on in the world around me.

There's this thing called truth. As an evangelical Christian I believe all truth is God's truth. In the mystery of his ways he reveals truth to his people according to his divine purpose in his chosen time. If Scripture is correct unbelievers cannot fathom the spiritual reality of his truth---

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are

folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually


1 Corinthians 2:14, ESV

At the same time, people do often trip across the truth without recognizing or acknowledging it as God's. For them, what they have uncovered may be a great discovery, invention, or underlying principle. And, in essence, that's the appeal of these five books. They disclose clues about what makes like work. And, there are millions more like them in some respect. Here are five notable books about the facts of life---

1. Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky

Saul Alinsky (1909-1972) is considered the father of the community

organization school of political activism. Reading Rules for Radicals helped me

to understand some of the anomalies of our times---the Jefferson City riots, the

Baltimore destruction, even the recent congressional sit-in about gun control.

It is the playbook for political activists and the strategy by which liberal and

radical politics shape minority opinion. Of course, I totally disagree with the

political premise upon which Alinsky constructed his community organization

principles. But, knowing it has helped me understand much of what is

happening around us.

2. The Crowd by Gustave LeBon

This book is subtitled The Study of the Popular Mind and was published in 1895.

LeBon was a French social scientist who studied crowd psychology and group

dynamics. The Crowd is a fascinating study of how people are influenced when

they become part of a multitude. There are applications of LeBon's conclusions

to national identity, politics, education, religion, and individual development.

Football games, concerts, political rallies, and even church at times was a little

more understandable after reading this one several years ago.

3. The Likability Factor by Tim Sanders

Sanders, a former Yahoo executive and current consultant to Fortune 500

companies is among the most sought after motivational speakers in America.

He has published five books, The Likability Factor being released on the heels of

his best seller Love is the Killer App. The premise of The Likability Factor is simple:

likable people are more effective at nearly everything than unlikable people. He

explains the four elements of likability and discusses practical ways to raise

your personal L-factor. It's an excellent primer about human relationships.

4. Managing the Non-profit Organization by Peter Drucker

Drucker (1909-2005) was a management and leadership legend. He is credited

with the line "management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right

things". It may be apocryphal, but he's also credited with explaining the four

toughest jobs in America---President of the United States, university president,

hospital president, and pastor. This book makes a clear distinction between

managing in the for profit sector and the non-profit sector. As a former banker

and hospital financial administrator this book was helpful in learning the

unique character of a non-profit system.

5. StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath

Psalm 139 is a poignant and powerful expression of God's wiring of humans.

We are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (v.14). The StrengthsFinder system

was developed by Gallup Leadership chief Donald Clifton to assist individuals in

discovering their personal strengths. The central thought is that we all will be

more effective in everything we do if we are operating in the areas of our

endowments. So, strength discovery is essential. This is the book I've given

away most frequently in the past fifteen years. In my opinion, strengths theory

touches everything in life---work, marriage, relationships, service, and personal


Yes, life is often mysterious. Sometimes we simply don't understand what is happening around us or why things are the way they are. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians---

Look at what is before your eyes.

2 Corinthians 10:7, ESV

Sometimes the answers are right in front of us. Sometimes the facts of life are right there in a book.

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