I will begin by confessing that I struggled through this book. But then again, I am not an academic, nor do I teach or do research. The longer I read, however, the more the concept of the text took root, and the better I could grasp the direction the author was taking us. It took a while, but I eventually got it.
Pastor Mark Sayers teaches us by challenging us to look at our lives as fundamentally "horizontal" or "vertical". As a worship pastor, those concepts were immediately familiar and comprehendible. His points make sense, logically and Biblically. Early on, the author makes comparisons for us- for example:
Vertical vs. Horizontal
Instant Gratification vs. Delayed Gratification
Work Ethic vs. Play Ethic
Facts vs. Feelings
One thing that really stood out for me is the recognition that people- especially Christians- can live what the author refers to as a "fragmented life", meaning that belief systems and world views may overlap, or even be in conflict with one another. As that idea began to sink in, I realized that many of the people with whom I serve on church staff are living that fragmented life. By that, I mean evangelical Christian, a social liberal, financially conservative, and almost no filter for humor or entertainment. I recognize some of those traits in myself, and that makes it all the more disconcerting.
I challenge you to get and read this book. Stay with it- don't give up. It will offer insights into your behaviors, your belief systems, and how you want to live your life. I recommend this book.
The Vertical Self by Mark Sayers is a very intuitive look inside the process that we all go through in life of understanding our own personal identity. More than that, however, it is a road map that will take you back to the proper path for this process if you have gone astray in your endeavor or guide you forward if you are already heading in the right direction.
I appreciated the journey that Sayers takes the reader on in understanding how culture can shape perspective and identity. It was refreshing to take a vantage point of cultural influence from a broader outlook than the small box of our own comfort zone. Throughout this journey Sayers has the reader asking very introspective questions about their influences, their ideas, their possibilities and even the reality in which they live and breath.
The book helps to support a Biblical perspective for the proper foundation for our own identity structure. It will challenge you to ask some hard questions about why you do the things you do and why you perceive the world and the approval of others the way you do. Sayers was able to peel back the curtain on some very impactful identity issue propagated by today's "norms" that could be, and are, very easily missed in our everyday lives.
The information the book provides is very enlightening, very freeing, very inspiring and most importantly very Biblically sound.
The book had a great impact on me and my perception of conformity, uniqueness and individuality. I have confidently referred the book to others to share it's candid insights. This is a book that you don't want to miss. It does much more than many on the market that provide a "step" process or a "how to" live approach. It approaches the deeper issue of our motivations for living, loving and serving the world around us.
Good Job Mark Sayers! You have brought much Glory to God through this work and the redirecting words of encouragement that turned myself, and I am sure many others, more toward living the life of The Vertical Self.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers 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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
The Vertical Self is perhaps the most aptly titled book I have come across in quite awhile. Sayers does a remarkable job of contrasting the "vertical life" with the "horizontal" one. A horizontal life is one that is focused on "self" and draws its identity from the world while the vertical life is one that finds its identity entirely on one's relationship with God.
Sayers exposes how Christians live according to various combinations of their "vertical" and "horizontal" selves. Depending on our circumstances, we may attempt to tap into our vertical identities (say, on Sunday mornings) while at other times we are more than happy to live according to our "horizontal" identity. As a result, our lives become fragmented and our faith is built on nothing more than sand.
It is impossible to absorb Sayers' message within these pages without conducting a self-inventory. There are times when the reader may get stung a little as they flip through the pages; however, it is all for the cause of discipleship and spiritual growth. For this reason I believe Sayers' book is a wonderful addition to my book shelf.
Although The Vertical Self does a wonderful job of exposing the blemished way in which many of us lead our lives and will lead to conviction in many of its readers; I believe it misses the mark somewhat in actual application.
I believe the reader who truly desires the vertical life may walk away Sayers' work confused about how to achieve it. Sayers would have done well to explore Biblical text in more detail and to include a detailed discipleship & spiritual growth program. As it stands, he identifies the problem while offering a shallow attempt at a solution.
The book would be a good first step in a Christian's walk towards a Godly life, but only if it inspires the reader to engage more deeply in Biblical text along with some of the deeper contemporary authors such as Dallas Willard or John MacArthur.
Note: Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com <http://BookSneeze.com> book review bloggers 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 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
I wasn't sure what to expect when I began The Vertical Self, by Mark Sayers. I was pleasantly surprised at the fresh new ways he presented simple Truths. Because of his experience with youth and young adult discipleship, he has a broad understanding of contemporary pop culture and the areas and challenges that affect the twenty something generation.The Vertical Self delves head on into topics such as the intersection of identity, Western culture and faith. The basic premise of the book is that we have two potential selves. The first is our horizontal self which can be defined by media, culture, peer pressure and everyday life around us. In direct contrast, is our vertical self. This identity is molded and shaped by our relationship with our Heavenly Father and our grasp of how HE sees us.Sayers explains that those who follow Christ should strive to live a vertical life; finding their identities in Christ. However he urges us to not shy away from the world, rather engage in it and show your true self to those as you pursue radical holiness.The Vertical Self has wonderful insights; especially for the young adult crowd. The only drawback is that he takes you to a certain place and rather continue to delve deeper, he leave the reader hanging a bit and grasping for more.
The Vertical Self by Mark Sayers is all about learning the difference between Western Culture and Biblical Culture. Living in the United States of America, I have grown up with a lot of material possessions. I am used to having television, video games, air conditioning, a lot of books, clothes, cds, movies, etc. Living for the material possessions is living horizontally. That is the way most people live. Often times people, myself included, let these material possessions get in our way of living for God. God wants us to be holy. God wants us to live vertically. Many Christians live vertically in some places (like church) and horizontally other places (like with friends). This is not how God intended for us to live our lives. We should be consistently vertical! In this book, Mark Sayers gives advice backed up by the Holy Bible to help us learn to live vertically all of the time. We need to stop caring about how others judge us and only care about how the Lord judges us and how we live. This book does a great job of explaining that concept! This book challenged the way I live my life and I would recommend it to others!