Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Book Review - Ordering Your Private World, by Gordon MacDonald

Four and a half years ago a friend gave me this book and suggested I read it, one of those occasions when you're not quite sure whether to thank someone or ask what exactly they mean by this action! But to be fair, it's fairly evident to all that know me that I am more of a doer than a reflector, I am more likely to be seen rushing onto the next activity than sat reflecting on the last.

It occurred to me only recently that I am possibly the exact opposite to the proverbial duck that is calm on the surface but peddling frantically underwater, the more frantic I appear on the surface often the calmer I feel underneath.

And so it was that it took me four years to get around to reading this book, then six months to complete the 240 pages, but here I am at the end of that long journey considering how best to review it. Because it is an easy read that regularly includes the trite over the profound, fails in its attempt to connect deep experiences with practical advice, and, on occasions is not unfamiliar with dullness (more than once I have sat down to read, only to awake 45 minutes later having only progressed a couple of paragraphs).

But the truth is that my time with this book has profoundly changed the way I live, the way I relate to God and to others and the way I approach my work, in-spite or perhaps because of the time that it has taken me to complete it I have seen some of the practical, accessible and thoughtful steps suggested by this book either directly or indirectly affect me.

These include journalling for the longest run I've yet managed despite numerous past attempts; taking control of my diary, which has meant a more productive work life, more quality time with the family and a greatly improved sense of well-being (it feels more like wading through life than drowning in it); a return to regular study for the enjoyment of learning; taking notes of important events, conversations, articles and books, recording them and storing them; reading, including fiction for the first time in 8 years; listening to feedback, finding the truth in it and putting it into effect in my life; focusing again on God's voice in the cacophony of voices that surround us; to listen to the stories of those around me and to hold them in prayer; and to take time to stop, look back and reflect on the impact of things (like stopping to review a book).

So I hope you see something of my dilemma in reviewing this book, on face value it doesn't seem to warrant a great review or a recommendation, but that would be to deny the impact that journeying with this book has had on my life and I hope will continue to have. So my recommendation comes with a caveat, if you are going to read this book cover to cover in a few short days then I'm not sure that you will get the most out of it, or even feel like there is anything new in it.

I recommend that if you read this book you take your time, that you let the chapters affect you and your practice, see what works for you and move on having engaged with it, only them can the true value of this book be gleaned.

Quality: ★★★☆☆
Impact: ★★★★★
Longevity: Time will tell
Overall: ★★★★☆

Would I recommend it? Yes
Do I want to ever read it again? I can imagine dipping back in in the future

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