The Power Of A Half Hour: Take Back Your Life Thirty Minutes at a Time, by Tommy Barnett
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by WaterBrook Multnomah Press in exchange for an honest review.]
At first glance, if one looked at the title alone without considering the contents, it might seem as if this book would be one of many self-help books that sought to encourage people to fit more into less time by preaching against the “waste” of time. Yet this would be incorrect, as this book is not so much about doing more with less time, but rather about doing more important things in concentrated chunks of time, and doing things right rather than wrong. Rather than a commentary on waste, this book is more about having the right priorities and making sure one’s time is spent for the purposes of good rather than the purposes of evil. This role makes it far more of an encouraging book than the book on time management that might be assumed from the title.
This book, besides being a collection of about 30 short chapters (the total text of this book is around 200 pages, even including a lengthy personal action guide that features ways that people can put into practice the lessons of this book, as well as a small group study guide), is full of a great many insights from the life and experience of the author. Tommy Barnett talks about such personal matters as trying to convince his children not to embarrass him in the eyes of his rather conservative denomination (the Assemblies of God) by watching movies in theaters, as well as talking about the difficulties with his wife early in their marriage over his church’s strong opposition to makeup (which contradicted with her self-image as a former model and beauty contestant), among many other fascinating and often personal stories (including visits with disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker in prison). These personal stories, many of which show the doubt or growth of the author, increase the sympathy one has with the author as well as provides a certain sense of sympathy with the same concerns that the author has for those who are outcasts and downtrodden in society, which provides this book with a firm foundation of social justice .
The author focuses on the power of a half hour in helping someone to gain greater success in several areas of life. First, the author introduces the impact that comes from half hour periods in the first two chapters, commenting on the biblical use of a half hour in Revelation, to give one example, of the reason why this unit of time is referred to. Then, the author focuses on the power of a half hour to chart a life path through clarifying vision and purpose, solidifying values, and sharpening gifts and abilities (like writing, for example). After this, the author writes of how half-hour periods can help strengthen one’s faith in regular connections with God (and others), “hanging out” with friends, and listening to others. Fourth, the author spends several chapters talking about the power of a half hour in building character through developing humility, repenting and forgiving, building good attitudes, showing gratitude to others, slowing down (and taking the time to be still) and responding to the promptings of God in a positive way. After this, the author shows the power of a half hour in allowing someone to advance their dreams by following one’s passions, preparing for success, making a career “work” through diligent practice, activating creativity, and sustaining hope through providing encouragement. Sixth, the author talks about the power of a half hour to improve one’s relationships by blessing others, connecting with impact, strengthening one’s marriage, building a healthy family, raising kids right, and appreciating people as people. Seventh, the author challenges readers to use half-hour periods to change the world by serving in a loving local church, spreading the gospel through personal evangelism, giving extravagantly, taking risks for the sake of the Kingdom of God, and acting on one’s beliefs and knowledge. The book then closes with a short discussion of the 30 power principles discussed in the above thirty chapters and a lengthy action plan as well as a study guide for small groups reading this book within their book clubs or congregations, as well as some endnotes.
As a book, this is a warm book full of encouragement, and even if one does not agree entirely with the doctrinal stances of the author in various matters, it is clear that this book shows a passion for obedience to God (even if imperfectly understood) as well as love for one’s fellow human beings. It is from these two great commandments that the rest of this book turns. This passion for helping others and serving God, and not doing more with one’s time but doing the right things better makes this a particularly excellent book that deserves great appreciation and hopefully wide studying and acting. This book, as excellently as it is written and as worthwhile as its approach and wisdom, though, is only successful to the extent that readers act upon it. Fortunately, this book is full of practical advice that should allow readers to act on the wise and biblical counsel of this warm and personal work.
 This is a common sentiment among books by this publisher: