For God and Country by Mike Root

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There is something to be said for the new and aspiring author.  There is something to be said for the person who has gotten his hands dirty doing the Lord’s work in missions.  There is something to be said for the person who has served in the armed forces and now seeks to apply aspects of those experiences to the civilian and Christian world.  There is a lot to be said for the person who doesn’t just want to write a book, but actually does so and gets it published.

Meet Mike Root.  Along with his wife Michelle, Mike founded The Kingdom Advancement Project (KAP) that provides Bibles and other resources to missionaries in Nicaragua, Pakistan, and India.  Mike is also an officer in the United States Air Force and a student on the road from two master’s degrees to current work on a Ph.D.  He is also irritatingly young, athletic, and possessed of an outgoing personality. I got to know him via Facebook a few months back, and I began our friendship by my usual subtle method:  “Send me your book.”  It took a little while for Mike to fulfill my wish/demand because the book was not then published.

For God and Country: A Discussion on Servant Leadership is available through Amazon or Barnes & Noble.  Get to know Mike on Facebook and let him know if you want a signed copy (like mine).

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First, a word about the value of short books.  For God and Country is the second of two short books I have read this month.  (The other is Brian Mattson’s fine new book Cultural Amnesia.)  Short books rebuke those who say they don’t have time to read.  Skip a few shows, put your phone away, and take a few minutes to read.  On a topic like servant leadership, much more could be written.  Mike may very well be working on the four volume, 2800 page, encyclopedic study of the topic.  But we know that we would not read much past page 86 of such a massive work.  Guess what?  For God and Country is 86 pages.

Second, we need short, readable, handy, practical books in the Christian community.  More could be said on any topic, but getting the message across is essential.  All of us who have preached (and listened to preaching) know the dread of a sermon that tries to say too much.  I know that certain Puritans preached for one to two hours.  Great, but (prepare to be shocked) we are not living in Puritan times.

Third, Mike’s book is not a “read through and put it on the shelf” type of book.  As a book reviewer, I am always in a hurry to get the book finished.  But this book needs to be read not by me as book reviewer, but me as a Christian who has often been in a leadership position.  In other words, read the book as fast as you can, but then plan on reading it again or, better, read it with a group that is interested in discussing it.  It would make fine 8 week Sunday school study.

All that being said, much of Mike’s book didn’t deal with my situation in life.  Mike talks about the need to witness to co-workers, how to live and maintain the faith in a secular environment, and how to share the faith as a leader.  I work in a Christian school.  My co-workers are all Christians.  I don’t have to think through ways to bring up the faith when teaching students.  We were reading Dostoevsky’s Brothers Karamazov, Hugo’s Les Miserables, and R. C. Sproul’s Everybody’s a Theologian.  I live and work in a Christian environment.

But my experiences–at this time–are different from that of most Christians.  I have not always been in the current setting.  I forget that many people work around folks who are crude, blasphemous, immoral, and hostile to Christianity.  I would add that sometimes in working in Christian communities we assume everyone is spiritually with us when that is not really the case.

So, how do you (in your mingling with the world) share the faith?  We perhaps can all cringe when we think of the person who overdoes it with too many words and efforts or who is “Obnoxious for Jesus.” Some environments and workplaces are more congenial to sharing the faith than others.  And what about those serving in the military?  (This, of course, is one of Mike’s primary concerns as a military man.)

Read this book.  The profits, by the way, go to support KAP (www.theKAP.org).  Take care to notice the leadership style promoted/commanded all through the Bible.  Then re-read and discuss this book.  Be a witness to those around you by how you live and conduct yourself, but don’t fall for the mistaken saying “Preach the Gospel at all times: Use words if necessary.”  We are not people of the Ethic, but followers of Christ.

I remember many years ago listening to Dr. Greg Bahnsen talk about how he and his family came to know Christ.  Dr. Bahnsen’s mother worked for a dentist.  That dentist invited her to church.  No doubt that if he had been a terrible person to work for, she would have run the other way.  But God used that to convert her and her husband, and then they raised their sons, Greg and his brother, in the faith.  (Greg was converted, if I am remembering his story correctly, at a church camp later.)  We are not witnessing so that we can cultivate the next Greg Bahnsen or Billy Graham or Mike Root.  We are telling others about Jesus because of who He is and because of what He has done and is doing for us.

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