taking the words of Jesus seriously



Editor’s Note: This post is part of the Red Letter Book Club. It is a review of Sarah Cunningham’s new book, “The Well-Balanced World Changer: A Field Guide for Staying Sane While Doing Good.”

Ask a new acquaintance what he or she does, and you might hear, “I’m a teacher” or “I’m a nurse” or “I practice law.” Ask Sarah Cunningham that question and then take a deep breath and settle in. Because she’s like a modern Renaissance-woman do-gooding superhero! She writes. She ministers. She parents. She speaks. She organizes. She advocates. In a word, she inspires.

I know, I’m exhausted just thinking about it, too.

So on one hand, Cunningham is exactly the person to be guiding folks like you and me who want to change the world. Because she’s doing it.

On the other hand, people who write field guides for living should be…like…eighty-seven years old. Minimum. Agreed?  Or they should be short wrinkly green sages who wield light sabers and train young jedis.

This is why I was so very delighted to discover that in these easy-to-digest (aka “short”) chapters, Cunningham packs a punch with wisdom she’s gleaned—or Yoda has taught her?—in her journey of Christian service.

This is a book for people who are doing work that’s worth doing. It’s for leaders. Advocates. Entrepreneurs. Whether you have a large platform—Seth Godin…if you’re reading this…I’m talking about you—or whether you’re someone with an itty-bitty growing platform—we know who we are—Sarah Cunningham offers meaty wisdom for those who are purposing to do good.

With common sense and biblical savvy, Cunningham even identifies and speaks to those hidden parts of our hearts that we’d rather others never discover. Are you hungry for a huge national platform? (Your worthy organization, of course. Not you. Of course not.) Are you addicted to the approval of others? (Hint: If you check your likes on Facebook, you are.) Even if you do manage to draw a lot of attention to yourself, Cunningham is not impressed.

“You’re turning heads?” she asks. “So is the accident on the side of the road.”

So what?

Cunningham elevates the conversation among leaders away from successful strategies for growth and toward living a healthy life of integrity. She tips our eyes away from Google analytics of success and toward Biblical ones. And she realizes that living well requires making some hard choices. It means saying no if a yes would mean neglecting loved ones or allowing other priorities to slip. In these pages she offers practical strategies for staying healthy, encouraging, “You are more good to the world well.”

In Well-Balanced World Changer, you’re going to hear that your work matters. So if you pastor a church, or if you run a non-profit, if you serve soup to people who are hungry, or if you visit elderly friends in the hospital, this book is for you. And what you won’t glean from the cover—but can only discover in its pages—is that World Changer really is a field guide for…a life well-lived.

Love it, you will.

This post is a review of Sarah Cunningham’s new book, “The Well-Balanced World Changer: A Field Guide for Staying Sane While Doing Good, ” currently featured on the Red Letter Book Club.

About The Author


Margot Starbuck—author, collaborator and speaker—earned an MDiv from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Bachelor's from Westmont College. She’s convinced that because God, in Jesus Christ, is with us and for us, we’ve been made to be with and for others. So she’s passionate about equipping folks to love our (sometimes unlikely) neighbors and is the author of seven books and collaborator on others. She enjoys speaking to audiences around the country that include: Messiah College, MOPs International, Young Life Women’s Weekend, Urban Promise Ministry Summit and Wheaton College Center for the Application of Christian Ethics. Margot lives downtown Durham, North Carolina, with her three teens.

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