Two and a half years ago, my boyfriend and his family generously bought me a ticket to go with them to the Hillsong concert in San Antonio (I still lived in Texas at the time). Brian Houston provided every single attendee with a copy of his book, Live Love Lead. So, on top of close seats at a beautiful Christian concert, I received a hardcover, glossy book filled with encouragement. Talk about feeling pumped!

Of course, I proceeded to let it sit on the shelf, with one or two attempted starts, until recently. Have I mentioned my TBR shelf is overweight and somewhat neglected? Anyway, I finished Brian Houston’s book yesterday and wanted to pop a review up.

I enjoyed Live Love Lead a lot. The format is appealing—chapters and subsections are short and full of personal stories. I didn’t previously know much about Houston and the history of Hillsong. In relating how they came to be the blessing they are, Houston’s tone is conversational. He remains humble, always pointing the credit back to God, which I found reassuring. In addition, his accounts are full of fitting verses and references to stories from God’s Word. The feel of this book is akin to sitting down with a new acquaintance over dinner or coffee. I really enjoyed that aspect.

Brian Houston gives the believer encouragement and advice on how to live as an overcomer in life, not a victim. His emphasis, both towards and for Christians, is one of grace, not condemnation. Pointing back to Jesus’ redemptive work, Houston reminds believers that we live under the power and permission of His name, not our own. He spurs us to focus on what we have—what we can do—and to let go of what we don’t control.

One aspect of his voice I really appreciate is the fact that, as a positive believer who emphasizes victory, Houston doesn’t subsequently discredit the promised existence of pain. The Christian life, he empathizes, is filled with harrowing hurt and trial. It’s how we handle them that showcases our faith and glorifies God. The fact that these struggles are tangible and exhausting is something to which Houston personally attests. He connects with the hurting, those who have lost significantly, and shares private stories of feeling overspent. Live Love Lead isn’t a cheesy mantra of a book, but a genuine connection among people walking through the same mixed bag that is the Christian life (or looking into it, for that matter).

If there’s one suggestion for improvement I could offer, it would be the overall organization of the book. If you’re looking for practical application, that’s not really Houston’s shtick in this volume—he’s more focused on uplifting than offering 15 points. What I didn’t love is that some of the lines ring somewhat cliché, and some are repeated in different areas of the book. I would concentrate the concepts, and eliminate the excesses. Again, that’s just me. Overall, I enjoyed it remarkably. As proof of that, it’s time for Hannah’s Favorite Quotes (I really need a theme song for that!) Here we go:

27: “The abundant life Jesus came to bring us frees us from the confines of culture, competition, and comparison.”

37: “You see, it is easy to fill your mind with what you do not have and lose sight of what God can do with what you do have.”

84: “Although my God is all-powerful, I am not. My body, mind, and spirit have limits.”

86: “I myself have learned to recognize and acknowledge the process of pain, and I’ve learned to cooperate with the answer rather than remain a victim to the problem.”

172: “Every field has its pioneers who dedicate their lives and careers to innovation and experimentation. It might be in a laboratory or on a laptop, in outer space or an inner office. It’s the commitment to be the best you can be at what you’re called to do.”

180: “Individual success is an illusion; anyone who claims sole credit for the successes of life allows pride to deceive them.”

199: “Faith is the answer, and robust and ready faith is the key. Because the only way to defeat thirty-one kings is one at a time.” [This is perhaps the quote that personally stood out to me most in the entire book! I love it. It’s applicable to so many battles!]

204: “What is the enemy trying to steal from you to impede your relationship with God?”

All right, guys. Feedback time: For my Christian readers, what’s the best faith book you’ve read lately? For those of you who aren’t, what’s a good, “real life” motivational book, and why?

Thanks for reading! Have a blessed day. ❤

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