Saturday, January 15, 2011

Book Review: Chazown

As part of the Blogging for Books program, I received an interesting book by Craig Groeschel.  Chazown (pronounced khaw-ZONE) is Hebrew for a dream, a revelation, a vision, and that is what this book is about.  The subtitle is "Define Your Vision, Pursue Your Passion, Live Your Life on Purpose."

Doesn't exactly sound like a fast one to read, does it?

From the publisher:
You were born with your own Chazown.
Do you know what it is?

You’re invited on a most unusual odyssey—to find, name, and live out your personal Chazown. It’s a journey you’ll never forget because it’s impossible to return unchanged.

Practical, fresh, and biblically sound, Chazown is a one-of-a-kind life planning experience. Perhaps for the first time, you’ll clearly understand what you’ve always suspected:

I have been created and put on earth for a unique and important purpose.
And God intends for me to know it and live it with passion and fulfillment for His glory.

Craig Groeschel will help you get under the surface of your life to discover your life purpose in three often overlooked areas: your core values, your spiritual gifts, and your past experiences. He’ll help you turn it into a highly motivating credo—complete with short-term goals, action steps, and a supportive network to make your big dream a reality.

And then Craig will show you how to apply your own chazown to five critical areas of your life: your relationship with God, your relationships with people, your finances, your health and fitness, and your work.

Are you living someone else’s dream for your life, or no dream at all? Get ready for Chazown.
So what did I think?  Well, it was a hard book to get into.  Intriguing and all, but hard to start.  The end of Part I (only a dozen pages into the book) gives you the assignment to write your epitaph.  That's when I set the book aside and said, "I'll get back to this later."  (Realizing only as I finally tried to write this review that this epitaph assignment is triggering jr. high health class memories... and I have now given myself permission to totally skip that particular assignment.)

A month later, I finally decided to just go on without doing all the silly little assignments.

I'm glad I did pick it back up, because there is a lot to love about this book.  It isn't the fluffy, Christian self-help book that I had started to fear.  Some things I love:
  • The chapters are very short.  Very.  As in, most are a couple pages.
  • Groeschel has a delightful sense of humor. 
  • And aside from the epitaph assignment, the others don't seem so overwhelming.  Challenging, often.  But not overwhelming. And not silly.  I had jumped to conclusions.
  • And the overall message is nowhere near as overwhelming as it first sounded.  You aren't meant to follow his little formula and overnight your entire life will change.  The idea is that you pick ONE area, and work on that.  A "choose your own" self-help book, so to speak.  
  • Did I mention easy to read chapters that are short? 
I read this book too fast, with an eye towards fulfilling my promise to review this title within a month or two.  I've had this title in my hot little hands (okay, hiding under a pile of papers while I try to ignore it) since November 18.  That's pushing it... we're to nearly two months.

I bring this up because he talks a fair amount towards the beginning of the book about figuring out what it is that you treasure.  And in reading through his examples, I realize that something that makes me angry is when I see other people doing book reviews, or movie reviews, or curriculum reviews... and it is obvious that they barely touched the item.  They tell you that long-dead actresses starred in the recent movie, they don't even know the title of the book they are reviewing, etc.

I have yet to figure out exactly what that means I treasure.  A job well done?  Integrity?  Fulfilling commitments?  I don't know.  But it is food for thought.

I have a number of things that I have committed to lately, and really -- to be honest -- I'm doing only the bare minimum to get by.  I don't think it is the case with my reviews.  But I need to take a serious "think" about priorities again.  And one thing that is going to mean is that I need to start this book over.  And do it slowly this time, pausing to actually do the projects, and to visit the website, as there are lots of great extra resources there.

You can download the first couple chapters of the book to get a feel for it yourself. 

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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