VIP: How To Influence With Vision, Integrity, And Purpose, by O.S. Hawkins
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
When I received this book and started flipping through it, I was immediately a bit discouraged because the book was written by a writer whose track record is not very good, namely for his claiming to find “codes” in various books of the Bible . Fortunately, this book appears better than his previous works, but all the same one gets the same feeling reading this book that many people get when listening to soulless pop music from the 1980’s, in that instead of solid biblical truth from a piano or organ that one is getting something slightly less real out of a Yamaha synthesizer instead. Although the author, like John Maxwell , claims to have been a pastor for a long time, this is the sort of book that is really written in order to appeal to the desires for place and position that many people have, especially those of a business persuasion who claim at least nominal Christianity but no profound biblical knowledge. This book is perfect as a very light book—it comes in at less than 120 small pages—for a lightweight audience, although it should be stated that the author’s points are good ones, lest it be thought that I was finding fault with the author’s argument rather than his superficial presentation.
The book is a short one, and well-organized and efficient in its presentation. At times, the book can be too efficient, as when it states without biblical warrant or historical accuracy that “Joseph influenced two of the world’s most progressive nations because he held to his vision of leadership (20).” Several unwarranted assumptions are made here: that the family of Israel was a nation at the time of Joseph’s youth, that both this proto-nation and Egypt were progressive, and that it is a good thing to be progressive. None of those assumptions seems to be true. When a single sentence of a book requires that much textual criticism, perhaps the book was too short to give the full explanation of what the author was trying to say, since his short and epigrammatic statements cannot be trusted in support of a point that seems particularly trivially obvious: that leaders are people of influence and not only office, and that to be an influential person one has to have vision, integrity, and purpose. These three points make up the majority of this book, which begins with an introduction, contains one chapter on the V, I, and P of the book’s title, and then contains a conclusion as well as a heartwarming epilogue about the most important people in the author’s life, which is easily the best part of this book, a lengthy and touching acknowledgements section that is worthy of emulation for other writers. The book’s royalties are donated to Mission: Dignity, which helps provide assistance to retired pastors, a worthy mission to encourage and support.
In reviewing a book like this, it is hard not to see this as a slightly expanded version of a fairly superficial sermon message that a minister would give and think himself clever for writing. Take a familiar TLA (three letter acronym), revise the letters to suit one’s message, find a few bible verses and stories to illustrate each of the points, and then put them all together and think of it as a daring and original work, and one has this sort of book. Unfortunately, Hawkins is not knowledgeable enough about the Bible to make this a truly deep and meaningful book, and one has to wonder what the intended audience of this book is. One can easily imagine this book being directed at Christian businesspeople who wish to find biblical encouragement as to their own interests and vocation but wish to be godly businesspeople. One could see a book like this as an encouragement of sorts to readers who desire to have power and influence but lack the offices to feel powerful, so that such people lead the right way and acquire the right perspective before attaining positions of official influence. These are good purposes, and one would hope that readers would take the right moral lessons from this book, even if it is the wonder bread of biblical business consulting works. There is much better material on Christian living to be found, with greater biblical accuracy and understanding, but if all one wants is a light snack, this book will do. You can do much worse.
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