Previous month:
June 2008
Next month:
August 2008

What Servant-Leadership Involves

Let's continue with our series on servant-leadership, this time focusing on what servant-leadership is and the disciplines it requires.  What we don't need is more of the kind of leadership that we have had, much of it wrapped and explained in biblical terms.  I heard one woman in leadership teach recently that her "ministry" is similar to Jesus when He went into the Temple and chased everyone out.  She was simply trying to justify her bad leadership behavior as any of us are apt to do and she used the Bible to do so.

Servant-leadership isn't just an improved version of the leadership we already have in much of the church and business.  It is a whole new genre and requires a different set of skills and thinking.  It is not simply leaders who serve, nor is it servants who happen to attain to higher levels of leadership.  It is leaders who know how to lead while putting the highest priority interests of others ahead of their own.  It is a leadership that heals and doesn't wound, leaders who know how to direct and guide others without manipulation or control.  Robert Greenleaf stated that the test of leadership is that others follow voluntarily.

Author Larry Spears wrote:

Leadership is an influence process in which you try to help people accomplish goals.  All good leadership starts with a visionary role.  This involves not only goal setting but also establishing a clear picture of perfection—what the operation would look like when it was running effectively.  In other words, leadership starts with a sense of direction.  In the book I coauthored with John Carlos and Alan Randolph, Empowerment Takes More Than a Minute,
 we said, “A river without banks is a large puddle.”  The bank permits the river to flow; they give direction to the river.  Leadership is all about going somewhere; it’s not about wandering around aimlessly. Even Alice in Wonderland learned that concept when she came to a fork in the road and asked the Cheshire cat which road she should take.  He replied by asking her, “Where are you going?”  She essentially said, “I don’t know.”  His response was quick:  “Then it doesn’t matter what road you take.”  If you aren’t sure where you are going, your leadership won’t really matter, either.

Yet just because leaders have a vision doesn't mean they (he or she) are justified in doing whatever it takes to get people to follow.  This is usually where the breakdown occurs, especially when someone has "heard from God."  When they have, and I believe many leaders have, they then feel that the ends justify the means, that they can use ungodly leadership tactics to obtain godly objectives.

There are two skills critical to servant-leadership and they both require patience and practice. The first is listening, not just politely paying attention, but working hard to hear and understand what someone else is saying.  Robert Greenleaf wrote, "Listening, coupled with regular periods of reflection, are essential to the growth of the servant leader. . . . The most successful servant-leaders are those who have become skilled empathetic listeners." 

Stephen Covey wrote:

"Most people [and leaders] do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. . . . The essence of empathetic listening is not that you agree with someone; it’s that you fully, deeply understand that person, emotionally as well as intellectually." 

When is the last time you encountered a good listener?   Would others say that you are a skilled, empathetic listener?

The second skill is persuasion, about which Greenleaf wrote: 

Persuasion involves arriving at a feeling of rightness about a belief or action through one’s own intuitive sense.  One takes an intuitive step, from the closest approximation to certainty that can be reached by conscious logic (which is sometimes not very close) to the state in which one may say with conviction, “This is where I stand!”  The act of persuasion, thus defined, would help order logic and favor the intuitive step. But the person being persuaded must take that intuitive step alone, untrammeled by coercive or manipulative stratagems of any kind.  Persuasion, on a critical issue, is a difficult, time-consuming process.  It demands one of the most exacting of human skills."

In other words, leaders must give followers room to ascertain for themselves the rightness of the leader's path.  There can be no manipulation, but there can and should be a lot of dialogue where active and effective listening is involved.  And that goes for prophetic leaders who are convinced that they have heard from God.  (This dialogue, which slows the process down, is a safeguard against the tendency to hear God but to hear Him in part, or to mix in a whole lot of misunderstanding with what the leader has accurately understood.)

Greenleaf also wrote this warning about persuasion and leadership:

Because they are recognized as being better than most at leading, showing the way, they [leaders] are apt to be highly intuitive.  Thus leaders themselves, in their conscious rationalities, may not fully understand why they choose a given path.  Yet our culture requires that leaders produce plausible, convincing explanations for the directions they take.  Once in a while, they can simply say, “I have a hunch that this is what we ought to do.”  However, most of the time, rational justifications are demanded, and part of the successful leader’s skill is inventing these rationalizations.  They are necessary, but they are also useful because they permit, after the fact, the test of conscious logic that “makes sense” to both leaders and follower.  But the understanding by the follower, if he or she is not to be manipulated, is not necessarily contained in this rationalization that makes sense.  Because we live in a world that pretends a higher validity to conscious rational thinking in human affairs than is warranted by the facts of our existence, and because many sensitive people “know” this, manipulation hangs as a cloud over the relationship between leader and led almost everywhere.

Because this manipulation does hang like a cloud, leaders must take active steps to disarm it or else the coercion will take over naturally.  This is why we cannot just have an improved, kinder, gentler version of the leadership we know.  We need a whole new style and servant-leadership, in my humble estimation, is it.

As you can tell, anyone serious about servant-leadership must study Robert Greenleaf, the father of the modern servant-leadership message.  When I read Greenleaf years ago, I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach and took my wind away -- it was that powerful.  Nothing has changed since that first reading.  I still study his material and say, "This is what the Church needs.  This is what business needs. This is what society needs." 

Do you agree?  If so, what are you willing to do to see servant-leadership come to the forefront of your own leadership style and philosophy? 

Radio Decision Due Soon

I finished up another radio show on Wednesday and it was a good one.  Maria Cedeno was my guest and she candidly shared her own PurposeQuest story that has led her back to law school at the age of 37. We talked about my role as a purpose coach in the process and I know the interview will help a lot of people.  If you get a moment, you will want to listen.

I got my radio show numbers for June and they were great!  I had more than 5,000 listeners and almost 800 downloads!  I am happy with that, but now I am facing a decision. Do I renew my contract after August 13?  I will need $1300 per month to continue the show.  What do you think?  Should I renew?  You can let me know by posting a comment on the site where this entry is posted. 

Perhaps you, your organization, or your company could sponsor a show for $400?  I would be glad to design a show around your cause or work if you sponsor it.  Then you could download the show and use it for your own purposes.  This may also fit into your missions budget, since the show goes around the world.  Perhaps your organization would like to add your ad banner to my announcement page on the station, the same page that everyone who downloads any show sees. If I have the money raised by August 13, I will continue. If not, then I will have to shut it down.  It's your call.  What do you think?  Write and let me know.

I will have Bruce Binkley on again next week.  Here is a summary of the next show:

Episode Eleven: The World is Waiting for You

When you find your purpose, it opens the door for you to go to whoever needs who you are and what you do, wherever they may be.  Join repeat guest Bruce Binkley (whose previous show was How to Use a Business to Fund Your Vision) as he reports on his recent visits to Viet Nam and Zimbabwe to bring relief to widows and orphans.  Learn from Bruce how you can step out of your own world to engage some of the needs in the world at large.

Missed the live show?  This episode is rebroadcast at 9 AM Eastern and 6 PM Pacific. Past episodes are available on-demand and podcast ready.

Listen LIVE to VoiceAmerica!

Questions? Comments? Call in during the show itself at 1.866.472.5787/5788

What Servant-Leadership Is Not

I usually don't define something by what it isn't, but in the case of servant-leadership, I (and others) find it necessary to do just that.  Let's use the Apostle Paul as our focus so that I can give some examples of the points I am making. 

1.  Servant-Leadership is not being polite.  It isn't holding doors open for everyone, or picking up the tab at a restaurant.  While a leader should be willing to set up chairs if that's what is needed at the moment, that act in and of itself does not make one a servant leader. I don't think Paul was an easy man to get along with.  I think he was focused and cordial if you were on his side, but if one got crossways with him, I think that person heard from Paul. 

2.  Servant-Leadership is not "soft."  Servant-leaders don't sit still when things go wrong. They don't sit in endless meetings and listen to everyone's opinion about this or that.  I consider myself an aspiring servant-leader, yet I would release an unproductive or unhappy employee in a New York minute if that is what was best for them and/or the organization for which I worked.  Paul got in Peter's face and confronted Peter's hypocrisy as reported in Galatians 2.  He vehemently opposed putting John Mark back on the team in Acts 15 and that decision cost him his relationship with Barnabas, who was John Mark's cousin. 

3.  Servant-Leadership is not indecisive.  Servant-leaders listen and then they make decisions, when possible, in a group or team setting. If there is no group setting, then they make the decision based on what is best for the organization and the people it serves.  Paul opposed anyone or any doctrine that was not in the best interests of his "people," which in Christ were the Gentiles.

4. Servant leadership is not a little service and and a lot leadership (or vice versa).  This is why I am careful to hyphenate this concept, for it isn't either/or. It's not that one sometimes leads and sometimes serves, trying to discern which is needed when.  Paul always led when he went out, but he had no hierarchy, title, or organization. He told us in Thessalonians that he was not only like a father (" For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children" - 1 Thessalonians 2:11) but also a mother (I wonder what all those who want to be the "father" in the house of God will do with this verse?): "As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children" (1 Thessalonians 2:6-7).  This summarizes the spirit of a servant-leader.  They are both father and mother, strong and nurturing, decisive and compassionate, strong and merciful.

So what then is servant-leadership?  Robert Greenleaf, usually credited with sparking the modern servant-leadership movement, defined it as serving others' highest priority needs.  I define it as putting my experience, gifts and time at the disposal of others to help fulfill Ephesians 4:12-13:  "to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." 

This does not mean that servant-leaders can only function in a church setting, nor does it indicate that servant-leaders can only serve and lead those who are in churches.  We need servant-leaders at every level of society who use the power and wisdom of experienced and skillful leaders to build up and empower others in every walk of life.

Leaders have power and servant-leaders give as much of that power away to others to empower them to fulfill their purpose.  A few years ago, I had a 20-year-old  leader from an urban ministry come to me in a retreat where I was facilitating.  She said that she felt that she was supposed to take her discipleship group to Africa and would I help.  I immediately said, "Yes!"  She left the ministry before we could go, but if she would have gone, I was at her disposal to serve her to see that her objective was met.  It did not matter how old I was or how many degrees she did not have.  The issue was servant-leadership.  I would serve her by leading her to Africa.

I want to write next on the characteristics of a servant-leader, although we have touched on some of the traits in the first three articles.  If we are going to see a reformation in the church or society, if we want to see revival take place spiritually or culturally, then we must grasp and implement the concepts connected with servant-leadership, or else we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.  If we do what we have always done, then we will get what we always have. 

Matthew 20 and Servant-Leadership

My friend Bill mentioned Matthew 20 in his comment to yesterday's post and ironically I reached Matthew 20 this morning in my weekly Bible studies. I love it when the plan comes together! 

Jesus called them together and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:25-28).

Here was what I wrote about one of those those verses:

v. 27 – Jesus put Himself forward as a model for leadership.  He did not come seeking power and position – we are back at Philippians 2 once again – but to do the will of the Father.  Let’s look at Philippians 2 one more time to see what attitude you and I should have as leaders:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:5-11).

What steps can you take to be like the leader that Jesus was and is, the kind of leader that He wants you to be.  One thing that Jesus did was to give His life. Where does the Lord want you to give your life?  What can you do to give it more fully and completely?

No matter how many books I read on leadership or what I seek to learn, I must always come back to the fact that Jesus, not Calvin, Luther, Collins, Maxwell or any other earthly leader, is my model for leadership.  He is the One who understands servant leadership and can help me apply the principles, whether in business, community or church. 

Tomorrow we will talk about what servant-leadership is not, but for today, it is about serving the highest priority needs of others.  It is putting my gifts, talent and experience at the disposal and use of other people, for their benefit and advancement.  It is trusting God for my needs even when they are greater than the ones I am serving and leading.  It is leading even when it's not popular or understood, again trusting that my reputation and "good name" are in His hands to control.

So while I will write a lot about what others have to say about leadership and hopefully add something of my own to the mix.  Let it never be misunderstood where I stand.  Jesus was and is the greatest servant-leader who ever lived, and He is not just the object of my affectation or emulation, but the object of my faith. 


It has been a while since I wrote about servant-leadership, and I have noticed a general trend of people finding this site while doing a search on that topic.  My lack of writing about this isn't due to lack of interest or commitment, so I thought it would be good once again to devote a few posts to the subject.

I am on record saying that there is a leadership crisis in the Church and, in some ways, society in general.  Don't misunderstand; we have plenty of leaders and more than enough servants.  What we don't have is leaders who understand the concepts of servant-leadership.

I follow many of the blogs and sites that bemoan the condition of the local church. They mock some of the goofy trends in the Church that deserve to be mocked.  They debate and write to come up with better philosophical and theological solutions to our current dilemma.  Many of these bloggers are much better writers and thinkers than I, so I read them and agree with almost all of them. Yet the leadership crisis worsens daily.

For one of my upcoming D.Min. classes, I am re-reading and re-listening to Jim Collins' book, Good to Great.  In that book, Collins outlines the principles he discovered from his research into what made good companies great companies.  Collins has also written a short pamphlet applying and analyzing the "good to great" principles in the social sector, which would include churches.  One of the concepts that Collins describes, and it's at the top of his list, is what he has come to call Level 5 leaders.  This is just another name for servant-leaders.

What is a Level 5 leader?  Collins explains:

 "Level 5 refers to a five-level hierarchy of executive capabilities, with Level 5 at the top.  Level 5 leaders embody a paradoxical mix of personal humility and professional will.  They are ambitious, to be sure, but ambitious first and foremost for the company [or organization], and not themselves. . . Level 5 leaders are fanatically driven, infected with an incurable need to produce sustained results.  They are resolved to do whatever it takes to make the company great, no matter how big or hard the decisions." (page 39). 

It is my contention that we can debate the theology of the Church all day long -- what it should be, the appropriate mix of outreach and missions, and the appropriate structure -- but until we have a change in the heart and thinking of leaders, we will continue to repeat the same problems we have experienced in the last 30 years. We don't have a lack of creativity or ideas of what the Church should be; in my opinion, we don't have enough servant-leaders.

I have found that when most people plant churches, sometimes even breaking away from an oppressive church situation to do so, they don't resolve to change the leadership philosophy or practice they experienced. They simply determine they are going to do a better job than the previous leaders under which they served. Until we see and accept that the current leadership attitude and spirit are flawed, then we will not see any change in the Church, whether we call the church seeker-sensitive, seeker-friendly, seeker-tolerant, seeker-suspect, or "us-four-and-no-more."

I heard Collins talk about Level 5 leaders in New York City before he ever published Good to Great and I cried.  (For those of you who know me, you know that is a significant event!).  He talked about how Level 5 leaders practice the principles of the window and the mirror.  I'll let Collins explain what he means in his own words:

"Level 5 leaders look out the window to attribute success to factors other than themselves.  When things go poorly, however, they look in the mirror and blame themselves, taking full responsibility.  [Other kinds of leaders do] just the opposite--they look in the mirror to take credit for success, but out the window to assign blame for disappointing results." (page 39).

Why did I cry when I heard him talk about this?  I cried because I never, ever heard or read about anything like this in the Church, and I still don't, for the most part.  I read plenty about philosophical changes that need to be made in church theology but until we identify leadership as the problem and pursue specific remedies, we won't make much progress.  We will start over and over again, and enjoy the ennui of fresh starts, only to find ourselves in the same woeful predicament due to lack of servant-leaders.  My solution to the church leadership crisis is to work to become a Level 5 leader.  I don't need a title, an armor-bearer, an office or a position to do so.  And neither do you.

I want to contribute to the healing of the Church and her members not by replicating the mistakes of the past, only doing a better job of implementing a flawed system and philosophy.  I want to model servant-leadership and train servant-leaders, not working with those who are content to tweak the past but who want to learn from the past and change the present for a better future.  And by the way, I don't think the leadership crisis is limited to the Church.  I do believe, however, that we must address it there so that we can once again produce leaders who go forth to transform society.  At the present, most leaders are built and shaped outside the church and then come to worship.  I want to reverse that process -- they come to worship, are shaped into servant-leaders and go out from that point.

Stay tuned for more to come about servant-leadership in the coming days.  I haven't forgotten about it.  I am just now ready to do something about it! 

    Feel free to add your comments to this entry on the site where it is posted.

First Show on the Road

I did my first radio show this week from the road, calling the station from Orlando while I interviewed Gail McWilliams in Dallas.  It went well, or at least I thought so, and I enjoyed what Gail had to say.  Gail lost some of her eyesight giving birth to each of her five children and today is legally blind.  Yet she is in great demand as a speaker and an author, and when you listen to the show you will understand why.  The title of her show is Purpose from Tragedy and can be found in the station's archives.

I listened to my show when it was rebroadcast last night since I am working to eliminate saying "Uh" and "Um."  I did much better than the week before, but the producer sent me an instant message in the midst of my opening monologue and it distracted me for a second or two.  I am still working on how to stay focused while being aware of what's going on around and in front of me.

Next week I am interviewing a young lady whom I have had to privilege of coaching for the last several years.  Maria Cedeno is about to go back to law school and I want to talk to her next week about that decision and how she made it.  Here is the summary:

Episode Ten: The Power of a Purpose Coach

Are you having trouble seeing the greatness in you?  Are you struggling in your current job, unfulfilled and unhappy?  If you are or know someone who is, join John and his special guest, Maria Cedeno, as they discuss Maria’s decision to go back to law school and what role John played in that decision on the next Your PurposeQuest broadcast.  

Missed the live show?  This episode is rebroadcast at 9 AM Eastern and 6 PM Pacific. Past episodes are available on-demand and podcast ready.

Listen LIVE to VoiceAmerica!

Questions? Comments? Call in during the show itself at 1.866.472.5787/5788

New Website

In case you did not see or receive this from my Monday Memo site, here is the latest on my new website.

I waited seven years to develop a new site, since I wanted to understand more about web site development and strategy.  In other words, my new site was seven years in the making!  I wanted something that would help you, the user, find help with purpose, leadership, and faith.  Here are some of the features I hope you will take advantage of in the coming days.

1. I have developed a free online assessment to help you understand where you are in your individual PurposeQuest.  When you take the assessment, you will receive a score, what I am calling your PQ, that lets you know where I think you are in your search for purpose.  Then you receive a follow-up email with some suggestions of steps to take to be more purposeful, along with a link back to my site that is available only to you and others with a similar score, outlining even more steps to take to clarify your purpose.  If you haven't taken the Assessment yet, feel free to do so and then come back and take it again after you have applied some of my suggestions.

2.  I have a slew of free articles and resources for you to download and read.  You will find every Bible study I have done since 2001, every article I have written, every Monday Memo and anything else I could think of to include as free downloads.  All the articles are broken down by topic and can be found on the Leadership page or the Archives page. 

3.  I am convinced that it is almost impossible to clarify your purpose without consulting someone else at some point in your PurposeQuest.  That is why I make myself available to help you in ways I describe under the Coaching section.  Whether it's a one-time get together or a more formal coaching program, I highly recommend that you invest something in your PurposeQuest.  Don't ask others to invest in you if you aren't willing to invest in yourself. 

4.  I have developed many seminars and programs for companies and churches over the years that are listed under the Services section of the site.  You may want to consider these for your next offsite retreat or training session.

5.  I am offering some very special Specials to celebrate the launching of the site.  Check them out and see which one is right for you.  They include discounts on the coaching and one-on-one services, free shipping on books and more. 

6. Finally, I do much of what I do because of the generosity of people who contribute to my work.  I send all Memos and Bible studies free of charge and do everything I can to make myself and my message available to any and all.  If you can contribute, there is a special Contributions page outlining the need and the means by which you can become a Purpose Partner.

I hope you will visit the site regularly and stay in touch with what I am doing and where I am going.  If you have any suggetions for the site, feel free to write.  You can request more information or express your interest in any of my programs or services by going to the Contact page and giving me your information.  I promise I will get back to you right away.  Also, please tell your friends about the site and urge them to take advantage of the purposeful resources found there. 

Thanks for letting me update you on the site.  I hope to hear from you soon. 

The Show Continues

I hope by now you have listened to at least one of my radio shows at Voice America.  I feel more comfortable every week and all my guest's stories will be helpful for anyone searching for purpose.  This past week I hosted Mary Banks, whose business purpose statement includes the word purpose.  Mary shared some of her own PurposeQuest stories and then talked about how she leads others into an awareness of their purpose through coaching.  She and I approach purpose from the same point of view, so I felt like we have a true partnership as purpose mentors.  You can listen to Mary's interview here; it's entitled Purpose as a Business Concept.

Next week, I will host Gail McWilliams, whose story has touched thousands.  Gail lost her eyesight giving birth yet that did not stop her from having five children!  She is now a leading spokesperson for the Pro Life movement and is interviewed and speaks all over the country.  I first met Gail ten years ago in Dallas and we have just recently reconnected. Here is the info on her upcoming show:

Episode Nine: Purpose from Tragedy

Most people will never have to face the decision that Gail and Tony McWilliams had to face. Gail was advised to either abort her baby or lose her eyesight.  They decided to proceed with the birth and Gail did indeed go blind.  Yet that was not the end, but only the beginning of a work and ministry that is now called Generations Global.  Join John as he talks to Gail about the power of purpose that can emerge even from a personal tragedy on the next edition of Your PurposeQuest: The Power of a Focused Life.

Missed the live show?  This episode is rebroadcast at 9 AM Eastern and 6 PM Pacific. Past episodes are available on-demand and podcast ready.

Listen LIVE to VoiceAmerica!

Questions? Comments? Call in during the show itself at 1.866.472.5787/5788

Eckhart Tolle

I have been asked many times to comment on the best-selling book by Eckhart Tolle entitled A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose.  This book was released this past January and sales were boosted by a recommendation from Oprah Winfrey's book club.  Oprah has also featured Tolle on her website and has promoted his teaching as one who offers insight into God.  Earlier this year, I could walk into any bookstore and see a stand with this book at the front door.  I noticed that it is still number 16 on the USA Today best sellers list.

So what do I think of the book?

1.  It isn't as bad as I expected if read not as theology but as pop psychology.  While Tolle portrays himself as an expert of sorts on world religion, he had some good things to say about how to help people. He has had some experience counseling others and I thought some of his advice was sound.

2.  Tolle is a Buddhist, pure and simple.  Of course, Buddhists always claim not to be a religion, which is absurd.  This book and Tolle's other book, The Power of Now, are steeped in Buddhist philosophy.  I don't think the emphasis on paying attention to the "now" is half bad advice, but some of what I call Buddhist double-talk is just too much to bear at times.  It gives me a headache.  For example,

It has been said "God is love" but that is not absolutely correct.  God is the One Life in and beyond the countless forms of life.  Love implies duality; lover and beloved, subject and object.  So love is the recognition of oneness in the world of duality.  This is the birth of God into the world of form.  Love makes the world less worldly, less dense, more transparent to the divine dimension, the light of consciousness itself (page 106). 

Huh?  What did he just say?  I know how Tolle would respond to my confusion: If I don't understand what he wrote, I am not enlightened.  Well, let me start a not-enlightened club and be the president.  But don't worry, Eckhart, I don't understand much of what the Dali Lama says or writes either.

3.  Tolle's handling of Scripture, while appearing to be authoritative and authentic, is, well, it's Buddhist!  He speaks of Scripture with such confidence but may I point out that when a Buddhist wants to make sense, they usually refer to the Bible, for nothing much else in their world is practical or makes much sense to the ear and mind of the everyday reader.  It is interesting also that whenever Tolle wants to portray something negative about religion, he almost always refers to Christianity.  Now I am not denying that there is much in "Christian" history that is not positive, but why not mention a Muslim once when talking about violence and religion?  Didn't Islam invade Europe centuries before the Crusades? When's the last time your heard about a Buddhist hospital, school or orphanage? 

4.  Let's go back to Tolle's use of the Bible in his book.  On page 184, he wrote this:

Jesus points to this when he says, "Be ye whole, even as your Father in Heaven is whole."  The New Testament's "be ye perfect" is a mistranslation of the original Greek word, which means whole.  This is to say, you don't need to become whole, but be what you already are -- with or without the pain body. 

This is just one example of how Tolle misrepresents and complicates Scripture to justify what his own point of view. The only time I screamed when I listened to and read this book was when Tolle quoted the Bible to prove a point.  As my former coach would have said, this guy is "a lost ball in tall weeds" when it comes to the Bible.

Contrast what Tolle wrote with what was written by William Hendriksen in his Commentary on Matthew (pages 317-318) and see who gives a plainer, easier-to-understand analysis:

In the present connection, however, "perfect" means "brought to completion, full-grown, lacking nothing." Jesus is saying to the people of that day, as well as to us now, that they and we should not be satisfied with half-way obedience to the law of love, as were the scribes and Pharisees, who never penetrated to the heart of the law.  Though in a sense Jesus is here repeating the admonition implied in verse 45 ("that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven"), he now (here in verse 48) indicates even more definitely that it is the Father's perfection that we should strive to imitate, perfection here (as the preceding context indicates) in the love he shows to all.  Is he not the One who causes his sun to rise on evil and good, and sends rain on righteous and unrighteous?

If Oprah wants to recommend someone who can provide clear and simple insight into God and His words, perhaps she should recommend Hendriksen and not Tolle!  Maybe she should return to her Baptist roots instead of resorting to Buddhist weeds.

5.  As a purpose teacher, and this book first caught my attention because it has purpose in the title, Tolle is true to Buddhism but untrue at the same time, which makes him a good Buddhist (confused? that's the whole point!).  He would describe your purpose as so caught up in the "now" that your purpose is to read this blog entry.  That is your purpose and that sounds Buddhist.  When you are finished, you will find another purpose.  If you never see this entry, it is because it is not part of your purpose.  Huh?  So my purpose is just to live in the now and not give any thought to tomorrow.  This isn't  true to Buddhism, for even the Buddhists talk about the eightfold path and one of the "paths" is what they refer to as "right livelihood."  Yet this is what I have come to find when I search Buddhist material.  They are committed to everything and nothing at the same time.  Tolle would be of this same mindset.

All in all, I would not recommend this book if you are searching for your purpose, for there isn't much help on that front.  I would recommend it if you want to keep up on what everyone else is reading and talking about in secular circles.  I don't think Tolle's material is going to usher in a "new earth" any time soon, but I know that Jesus will come back to do that and, at that time, the eternal purpose for everyone will be made abundantly clear.