Book Review: Soulprint by Mark Batterson

The classic Christian statement of faith asserts that “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”   Jesus’ Great Commission calls Christians to spread Jesus’ gospel by making disciples of Jesus whose transformed lives are used by God to make an impact for time and eternity.  The display of that glory and the potential impact that results comes through Christ-followers who live their unique lives for those purposes.  And that is often the struggle, because there is such pressure for Christians to be carbon copies of one another, as if there is only one way to live a God-honoring life.  

Mark Batterson’s new book, Soulprint (Multnomah, 2011) is a kind and gracious encouragement for Christ-followers to courageously embrace and live their unique, God-designed life with passion.  He makes a case that no one can worship (glorify) God like you can because no one else is designed to live the life He designed you to live.  But many don’t know what that life is to be because “we are strangers to ourselves.”  So Batterson provides a guide to self- discovery and understanding that has the goal of unleashing a life that is not about the self at all, but about displaying God and serving His purposes.

Batterson, writing in his distinctive and inviting conversational style, uses the life of David as the framework for self-examination. He outlines five key defining moments in David’s life that every Christ-follower will also encounter.  Each defining moment provides a sometimes-hidden principle to reflect on and several practical disciplines to engage.   Holy Confidence encourages us to lean into our perceived disadvantages as a means of experiencing God’s strength. Lifesymbols notes that the well-considered memories of our life experiences can be the footprints of where we have been and the map to where we are headed. So Batterson notes, “My life is a story…God is writing through me.  It is His-story.  I need to identify the story lines that the Author of my faith is scripting for me…the inciting incidents, the places where the plot thickens, the defining moments, and the beginning of new scenes….The past is not circumstantial. The past is providential. ”

The Crags of the Wild Goats calls a Christian to live with “epic integrity” choosing to live under God’s authority and not compromise our priority commitment to Him in any circumstance.  Alter Ego is a fascinating exploration of settling our identity as God’s person and then the willingness to risk failure, vulnerability and even humiliation for the sake of spreading His glory. Batterson confesses, “.…I crave awkwardness….Why? Because it means I’m not settling for what is comfortable, what is acceptable….Comfort impedes spiritual growth. Our attempts to create comfortable environments often produce immature disciples.”  Finally, The Devil’s Workshop reminds us that it’s crucial to have people and processes in our lives to both guard against the blind spots of sin that can change the course of a life, and also to notice the joyous possibilities of what God may want to be doing in (and through) our lives.

In addition to exploring the Bible’s narrative, Batterson engages the reader with truths drawn from history, psychology and the arts.  He tells his own story with a transparent honesty that is compelling and invites the reader to bring their own stuff to the table as well.  The discussion questions at the end are a helpful reminder that this book would work exceptionally well in a small-group setting, especially with some people who know you and with whom you feel comfortable sharing the journey of your soul. In other words, this is not an entry-level small group choice.

Mark Batterson has provided a creative and helpful guide for spiritual formation.  Finding your Soulprint is a way to live the life that will bring a Christ-follower the most joy, bring God the most glory and the world the most blessing.

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