What Was I Thinking? Things I’ve Learned Since I Knew It All by Steve Brown, New York, Howard Books, 2006, 216 pp.; Rating: 6

I love Steve Brown. I love everything I’ve ever read by him. He “gets” grace. And he’s a curmudgeon. How can you not love him? This little easy to read book is a review of the maturation process Steve Brown has gone through in his life and ministry. Some of the chapter titles: The Holy Spirit is Working in a Lot More Places than I Thought He Was, People are a Lot Worse than I Thought They Were, People are a Lot Better than I Thought They Were, and Self Righteousness is a Lot More Dangerous than I Thought It Was.

I particularly loved his story about teaching a class in seminary on church politics that was so pessimistic he actually appointed a student to raise a hand as a warning that he was going too over the top. “I generally assign one student the job of raising his or her hand when I’m so negative about the church that the students begin to think about leaving the seminary and the church altogether. When that hand goes up, I tell them about the high and holy calling of ministry, the great priviege it is to serve God’s people, and stories about the people of God, their love, their faithfulness and their kindness.” He writes, “I cover subjects like how to develop ‘a Christian mean streak,’ how to win the political battles without losing your salvation, how to identify ‘pockets of power,’ how not to be a weenie, how to deal with your discouragement and broken heart…” He says the students hate the class, but after a few years in ministry they come back and thank him!

Man. I’d love to have the recordings of those lectures! I’d love to have had them 30 years ago! Or two.

Steve Brown is a realist. He deals with the negative stuff in the Church and in the world. And he also deals with the positive. He’s balanced. He’s saturated with grace. And he ends with hope.

I love Steve Brown. I hope someday I can smoke a cigar with him.


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