Review: Be Last

This one has been languishing on my review pile for a while. Not from being too busy (though I have had a few mishaps in that department) or because it’s a bad book. I just had a hard time getting through it and have now given up trying.

Be Last, by Jeremy Kingsley, covers a topic sorely needed. In fact, my small group at church is covering essentially the same principle, servant leadership. The tone of the book is a little preachy, but mostly in a good way. Imagine the most engaging sermon, most memorable speaker, you’ve ever heard, and that’s a lot like what this is like. Kingsley commends himself as a speaker and for the most part it translates well to print.

For me the problem came down to two or three related issues. Kingsley is one of those people who have found their calling and are passionate and fired up. They see a need and they’re out there doing something about it. They’re excited. And they don’t understand why everyone else doesn’t feel the same way, doesn’t see the same need. So unless you share his passion for, say, working with the homeless, be prepared for a guilt trip and a lecture on why aren’t you, a foot, out doing the hands’ work with him. (See 1 Cor 12)

Likewise, if you struggle with legalism, I’d steer clear of this title. I do not believe that is at all what the author meant or intended. I am assuming I misread and misunderstood the percieved emphasis on judging one’s spiritual condition by their works. But if you have the struggle previously mentioned, you’ll take it “all wrong” as well and suffer a spiritual “allergic reaction,” so to speak and I do not want you to be tripped up by this.

My last issue is on the topic of self love, the author shows himself to lack an understanding of and compassion for wounded souls. The author comes across as a psychologically healthy person who doesn’t comprehend that someone can genuinely have their natural self love broken by emotional wounding.

Of course, humility and emotionally wounded do not go together. Nor can you give to others what you don’t have yourself. The cruelest individuals on earth are wounded souls with such poor coping skills that they know of no other way to feel better about themselves than to tear down others. The emotionally wounded, while lacking self love (and self worth), tend to be more self-centered, not less. Just as physical pain tends to draw one’s attention to the wounded part, emotional pain draws one’s focus inward.

The author has not let the wounded soul’s self focus go unnoticed, but wrongly takes this as proof such wounded souls actually do love themselves. This not only indicates the author has no knowledge of what he speaks on this, but declaring “you’re fooling yourself” to hurting people is both unhelpful and counterproductive. If, like, according to one estimate, as much as 75% of the church, you struggle with such emotional pain, skip this title and find authors with understanding and compassion for the wounded soul. That wound must be healed first. And that ultimately comes from Christ.

Don’t get me wrong–there’s plenty of solid teaching sprinkled between the pages. If you’re one of the blessed souls raised by emotionally healthy, loving Christian parents who protected and guarded your heart, and also don’t have any struggles with legalism, this book will benefit you. If not, it fails to grasp, let alone seriously address, the number one issue hindering you from practicing the scriptural principle this book seeks to teach.