Reading is a passion of mine and something I greatly enjoy. Being in seminary encourages this passion of mine, and being a reviewer for many different Christian publishers helps me to read widely across the theological spectrum. Often times in researching for various writing projects for ministry and seminary I come across a book, I wish I had more time to really reflect on.
While reading Excellence The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue by Dr. Andreas J. Kostenberger, a good friend of mine encouraged me to make sure I read through it slowly and reflect on its message. I'm thankful for this friend and his encouragement to read this book. Excellence is a book that has made a deep impact on me for a variety of reasons, which I'd like to share.
First, increasingly over the past five years the Lord has placed a burden on my heart to equip ministry leaders. To this end, the Lord has placed a burden on my heart for many years to continue my studies onto the Ph.D level, as part of my ministry. Secondly, as many of the readers of Servants of Grace know, I love to write, which is why I am focusing more time on writing blog posts, and also working on several book proposals to hopefully send out to publishers in the coming days. Thirdly, I'm truly thankful for this book as it's helped me to really think through what it means to pursue excellence in all my work. This book challenged some areas in the current way I do research and also convicted me of sloppiness in other areas. Finally, I believe that Excellence should be required reading for all Bible College and seminary students. In my opinion every Christian would do well to read this book and digest the message of this book.
I read a lot, but it is not often that I read a book as well-written as Excellence. Furthermore it is even rarer that I read a book that combines great biblical and theological learning from the heart of a scholar who loves Jesus and is pursuing His glory. Excellence is written by a man that loves Jesus and the Church, and for that reason, I commend this book to you.
Reading Excellence will not be easy for many of you, but it will profit you, encourage you, and cause you to be confronted by the Gospel. At the end of the day any Christian book should challenge its readers with the Gospel, which is exactly what Excellence excels at. This book will help you to figure out whether your cut out for scholarly studies but it will challenge you regardless of your calling to glorify God in all you do regardless of if its scholarly studies or not.
Excellence is one of the finest books I have read in a long time. I recommend you pick it up and learn how to excel in whatever the Lord has called you to do. Read this book slowly with an open heart and open Bible, for in doing so, I believe will challenge you, and point you towards the excellencies' of our Risen Savior--the Lord Jesus Christ.
Title: Excellence: The Character of God and the Pursuit of Scholarly Virtue
This was my first book of 2012 to read through and I think it is going to be hard to find another book this year that will be able to top it as the Most Important Book that I read for 2012.
Andreas KÃ¶stenberger is writing this book for Theological Scholars, especially those who write books, articles and blogs. His desire is to express to them the need for Excellence in all their work. But while he is addressing scholars (of which I am not) he also states that this book is for non-scholars as well. The principles that he expresses are necessary in the lives of every Christian, not just scholars. But there will be sections of the book that you will note are written specifically with Scholars in mind. But it's OK, you will glean wisdom from these sections as well.
KÃ¶stenberger's desire is that all Christians would see the need to strive for Excellence in all they do since what they are doing is as unto the Lord. Their lives, their work, their play, their families, their worship is all done as unto the Lord, so it deserves our best. He reminds us that Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount told us, "You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48). We have no option.
With that thought in mind he starts his book discussing the foundations of excellence in all that we do. He approaches the topic from a clear Biblical perspective and develops his argument well with the use of lots of scripture. As part of focusing on the Foundations he brings to thought the need for Holiness and Spirituality in our lives. Two concepts that we must strive for as Disciples of Christ.
The rest of the book deals with the Christian Virtues that we must develop in our lives. He starts with Vocational Excellence then Moral Excellence and finally Relational Excellence.
What is fascinating is that each of the Christian Virtues that he develops flow into the next virtue and are dependent upon the following virtue being present so that the virtue being discussed can be fully realized and implemented in our lives.
Each Chapter develops one of these virtues. They include;
You will note and he points it out well that these virtues following along the fruits of the Spirit that Paul describes in his epistles.
The question is, how well are you developing these virtues in your life? Do you strive to develop these for the Glory of the Lord? Do you strive to serve your Lord and Master in everything you do and then do it to the best of your abilities?
This book is not a quick easy read, but you will discover that you can't put it down. You want to finish it.
I finished it three days ago but waited to write a review because I wanted to ruminate on what I learned. The more I meditated on the work, the more I relized my complete failure to live a life of Excellence for the Lord. It has lead me to a renewed vision and desire to serve the Lord with Excellence.
I am sure the book will have the same impact on your life if you read it with an open mind and start with the prayer of asking the Holy Spirit to teach you, lead you, and reveal to you the areas in your life where you need to grow.