I had never heard of Mark Batterson until my sister sent two of his books to me. The book came out in 2006 originally, but he updated it last year for the 10th anniversary. He’s added an additional chapter to the end of the project and makes some comments about things that have changed since originally releasing the book.
This book, In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day has a very memorable title, not because it’s particularly catchy, but because Batterson mentions the title in the text of the book about 200 times. That is the only thing that I really don’t like about the book. Other than that, it’s fantastic.
Okay… just had to get that off my chest.
Here are some solid reasons I loved this book and why I think you would do well to read it:
• It’s well researched – I learned as much from his research as I did his analysis of the research. I write this at the risk of making the book sound boring. It’s not at all. The studies he mentions are fascinating and help the reader understand the what behind the why of what Batterson suggests the reader should do.
• This book is all about chasing our lions, rather than being chased or scared by them. Batterson is trying to get his readers to take that chance they’ve always wished they would have. To step out in faith and see what God does. Even in the face of failure at unsuccessful risks, there is still a lot to be learned.
• Batterson doesn’t sugar coat his own insecurities and failures. While he has had some great success, he writes about some losses, fears, and uncertainty we all experience. However, he also writes about the rewards that would have never come without the steps of faith.
• This is far from a project where he brags about himself from cover to cover. Batterson recounts stories of several other people who have also taken steps of faith. The whole book is about how to take the steps, what they look like, and how taking them has made a world of difference for him, his community and in the lives of others.
Bottom line: By the time you’re done with this book, you will have the motivation to take that next step you’ve been afraid to take. You won’t have all of the answers, but you’ll have the inspiration you need to quit procrastinating.
Click here to buy the book
This is a picture of me with my boys at our Christmas party a couple of months ago. Seems like it was over a year ago. Although I had been a leader for many of them at camps, being their Life Group leader was like starting over with new boys. With new boys, the good news is my jokes are funny again. I can catch them off guard with a joke I’ve told a million times. It’s glorious. I’m cool again.
The struggle, however, is building in some more unnatural parts of Life Group culture. For this post, I’m specifically writing about hugs. These are super important to have a level of bonding that makes the boys like family with me and with each other. This week was my first glimmer of hope that it’s taking hold. While I didn’t acknowledge it verbally, I for sure took note.
Starting on the second night of Life Group, I start to turn handshakes into hugs. Every boy gets a hug when he arrives at Life Group and when before he leaves. For some of my boys, this could be the only hug they get all week. I don’t make a big deal of it, I just make it happen. Sometimes I’ll even say, “You’re a good guy” or some other quick word of encouragement in the split second of the hug.
They’re always good about it. I even have a “cool” way of doing it that makes it seem a little more masculine. I kinda give them a soft punch on the back with both fists instead of going in for the bear hug. Baby steps, right?
We will let out for the summer in just a couple of weeks and it finally happened. I was in the kitchen the other night when one of the boys had to leave. His mom was here to get him. He sought me out to give me a hug and say goodbye before he left. WE. HAVE. ARRIVED!!! Of course, I acted like nothing special had happened. I gotta keep it cool, right? However, my consistency to build this caring part of our Life Group culture has now become something they initiate.
All of this to say, building culture takes intentionality, consistency and determination over time. If you try something to build culture, don’t be bummed out if it doesn’t take hold right away. We’ve been meeting in Life Group for about 6 months. This is the first time one of my new students has sought out the hug. Caring aspects of youth ministry are too important to give up on. Be the culture until they catch it and take initiative to do it. It’ll happen.