A Book Review- The Vertical Self

The Vertical Self: How Biblical Faith Can Help Us Discover Who We Are in an Age of Self Obsession by Pastor Mark Sayers

I will begin by confessing that I struggled through this book.  But then again, I am neither academic nor theologian.  The longer I read, however, the more the concept of the text took root, and the better I could grasp the direction the author was taking us. It took a while, but I eventually got it.

 Pastor Mark Sayers teaches us by challenging us to look at our lives as fundamentally “horizontal” or “vertical”.  As a worship pastor, those concepts were immediately familiar and comprehendible.  His points make sense, logically and Biblically.  Early on, the author makes comparisons for us- for example:

           Vertical vs. Horizontal

            Instant Gratification vs. Delayed Gratification

            Work Ethic vs. Play Ethic

            Facts vs. Feelings

 One thing that really stood out for me is the recognition that people- especially Christians- can live what the author refers to as a “fragmented life”, meaning that belief systems and world views may overlap, or even be in conflict with one another.  As that idea began to sink in, I realized that many of the people with whom I serve on church staff are living that fragmented life.  By that, I mean evangelical Christian, a social liberal, financially conservative, and almost no filter for humor or entertainment.  I recognize some of those traits in myself, and that makes it all the more disconcerting.  However, as we improve our “vertical lives”, the fragmentation becomes less and less evident as Christ becomes more and more a part of our daily life.

 I challenge you to get and read this book.  Stay with it- don’t give up.  It will offer insights into your behaviors, your belief systems, and how you really want to live your life.  I recommend this book.

Eric Barron

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