Embracing Obscurity: A Book Review

When Joey, Tim and I went to the National Desiring God Conference in September, we naturally picked up a LOT of new reading material. Some of these books we purchased and some we were given. When I got home, I thought that I would delve into some of the books I had intentionally acquired, but the one I ended up finishing first was a freebie: Embracing Obscurity by Anonymous. This book was, indeed, penned anonymously by an author who claims that “we’re intoxicated with a desire to be known, recognized, appreciated, and respected” and that “our intoxication draws us away from our Maker and His mission.”

So, what did I think about this book? Well, there were some things I liked:

1. I think that the topic is exceptionally timely. Everywhere I look, I see people striving to be “better known” or more influential, especially, especially on the internet;

2. The author constructed a very interesting chart comparing Christ’s disposition of humility vs. Satan’s disposition of pride and their subsequent outcomes;

3. There is an emphasis on God’s ultimate, eternal significance (vs. a temporary, fading significance) that we receive when we join our lives to His and that there’s a difference between feeling significant because we are needed or because we can do something for someone and being significant because God delights in us–in us, not what we can do for Him;

4. There is also acknowledgment that in the trenches of “little sufferings” (demotions, hard breaks, layoffs, menial jobs, etc.), we learn to “defer to God our dreams of being well-known, respected, and admired.”

There were also a couple of things that I didn’t like:

1. I am used to the casual language of blog posts. I do not like to hear that “blog voice” coming from the pages of a book. It was very distracting to me and I felt like the message was diluted at times by this informal presentation;

2. I am very wary of the promotion of any one course of action being more spiritual than any other course of action. Perhaps this was not the author’s intention, but I got the feeling that I should be preferring obscurity over (worldly) significance by the time I finished the book. The bottom line for me is that I want to be embracing Jesus Christ, by God’s grace. Then I am able to hear the leading of the Holy Spirit in my life. His voice will let me know what He wants me to do, whether that involves obscurity or notoriety.

So, if you are exhausted because you are striving for significance in some area of your life, this book might offer some practical help. Otherwise, I did not consider this one of the top reads of my year. And, now…on to the next book!


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