Title: Soulprint: Discovering Your Divine Destiny
Author: Mark Batterson
Publisher: Multnomah Books (2011)
“There has never been and never will be anyone else like you,” writes Pastor Mark Batterson in the opening of his new book, Soulprint: Discovering Your Divine Destiny. “But that isn’t a testament to you. it’s a testament to the God who created you.”
In Soulprint, Batterson wants to help readers better understand who God has uniquely made them to be. He does this by examining a few key moments in the life of David, Israel’s greatest human king. And for the most part, he says a lot of helpful things to aid this goal. For example, he writes, “The only way to discover who you are is to discover who God is because you’re made in His image.” (p. 10) This is exactly correct and something that isn’t focused on enough in teaching on identity.
He also reminds readers to not underestimate the strangest of skills or situations that cause you to develop compensatory ones (see p. 25-26). What might seem like a bizarre skill might be an effective tool for worshipping God in a specific situation. This is a very good reminder there is no aspect of who we are or what we can do that is not intended for God’s glory.
Thirdly, he reminds readers that if they really want to serve people and care about them, we’ll need to stop caring so much about what they think (p. 58). This is the key to serving with integrity.
Fourthly, he writes that “just because something looks like or feels like a God thing doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a God thing… An opportunity isn’t an opportunity if you have to compromise your integrity” (p. 60). If there’s one thing to take away from the entire book, it would be this statement. Too often we view things through an open door theology; we assume that just because an opportunity presents itself, it must be from God.
That job you’ve always wanted is available and you’ve been asked to interview for it… but you’ve got to lie to your current employer to go. You’ve just bought your dream house… but the sale of your current house isn’t going so well, so you might have to put some pressure on an interested party to close a deal.
There are moments when every person’s integrity is tested, and these are the most important tests you’ll ever take. You’ll be tempted to take the shortcut… Don’t go there. Forfeit what looks like an opportunity for the sake of your integrity. (p. 61)
A final thing I appreciated was the inclusion of discussion questions for each chapter. This is a great way to help readers actively engage with this short book, and maybe open up some opportunities for legitimate self-examination.
While there were a number of helpful things in Soulprint, I found it to be incredibly uneven.
Although he eschews the idea of self-help, rightly calling it “nothing more than idolatry dressed up in a rented tuxedo” (p. 1), Soulprint is shockingly self-helpy at times. There seems to be this idea that at the end of the day, things are eventually going to work out in your favor (see pages 24-25); that God wants us to be happy (p. 95). The truth is, based on Scripture (see esp. Hebrews 11:32-40), we shouldn’t expect that things are eventually going to work out for us. Our day might not come. But our hope, according to Hebrews, is not to reside in things working out in this world, but in the confident expectation of what’s to come.
Secondly, Batterson writes that “maybe it’s time to quit proving yourself to people and start proving yourself to God” (p. 72). This runs contradictory to what Batterson writes prior to this about how pride is a byproduct of insecurity (p. 71). You don’t motivate people by telling them to prove themselves to God—because they can’t. And trying to prove oneself to God isn’t going to do anything but lead to pride or despair.
He also writes that, when we stand before the Lord, he won’t be asking us why we weren’t more like Billy Graham or Mother Theresa, or more like David; instead “God will ask, ‘Why weren’t you more like you?'” (p. 13) I know what he’s getting at in the latter (that we shouldn’t try to be who we’re not), but from what I’ve seen in Scripture, it doesn’t appear that, when we stand before God, He’s going to be asking too many questions.
To sum up, I found Soulprintto be a mixed bag. Much of what Batterson writes is good, biblical and thoughtful, but there’s an equal amount that is either poorly worded, confusing or the result of bad thinking. While some readers will find this book helpful, It’s not one that I would recommend.
A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes by the publisher