Normally, I wouldn’t even have opened such a book. When it comes to spiritual advice, I go to the books written by saints themselves.
But I ended up on a vacation without any other reading material to practice speed reading, so I read 7 Attitudes of the Helping Heart. And I was impressed.
I hadn’t had big expectations when starting this book, so it was easy to exceed them, and the author did exactly that. I cannot even name a single CON of 7 Attitudes of the Helping Heart because I didn’t read it with a critical mindset at all.
However, I can give several reasons why it was a good read for me.
1. The Elephant in the Room.
Poor people. I found the fragments written by the poor Cambodians most fascinating in the whole book. It was a brilliant idea. Without those snippets, that would have been one more book among thousands written by a privileged Westerner who could only observe poverty from the sidelines.
Yes, John’s words were wise and insightful. I could relate to him, like one privileged man to another. But the stories of poor people said in their own words?!? C’mon. They were like a hit by a hammer between my eyes. So strong! So real! So far away from my own experience! I had been extremely poor in a developing country (we lived for $350 a month for a few years), and I tell you, that’s a whole universe away from being poor in a third-world country.
I’m extremely grateful to the author that he included those stories. I read the book for them, I breezed through John’s words, just to get to the next installment from Sak, Pun, and Theary.
I hope they are getting their share of royalties, because they definitely deserved it.
Read 7 Attitudes of the Helping Heart just for those three real stories.
John wrote this book with authenticity. He struggles with the exact same dilemmas I struggle with when it comes to living out my faith and care for the poor.
I appreciate the author’s vulnerability; he shared plenty of tidbits from his own life, which were so similar to my experience. I think this is another great point which makes this little book so powerful – you can really put yourself in the shoes of someone who is so similar, yet figured out a few things about cultivating a helping heart.
Reading the book, I felt like John is just a few steps ahead of me – a man who struggled with the same issues, and recognized how he can actually make a difference for the poor.
3. Spiritual Lessons.
The author tackled some issues that have been occupying the greatest minds since the dawn of humanity. For example, suffering. Why? What for?
(…)personal suffering can allow us to be co-sufferers with others. Our own suffering can remind us of the pain others are going through(…)”
That’s at least one peek behind the reason why God made suffering an unavoidable part of life.
Another big subject, love:
How can we care about people we don’t know? I think it starts with caring for people we already know.”
Generosity, and how it intersects with holiness:
Holiness leads us to generosity, and generosity helps us to be holy.”
(…) sin stops me from positively impacting others. It stops me from sharing a friendly smile, from saying encouraging words, from thinking about the needs of others. It hinders my capacity, or God’s capacity through me, to effect people. Sin takes away what I could freely give to others.”
And the above examples are just a few things that caught my attention. I think everybody can find more impactful lessons for themselves in this book.
4. Excellent Book.
I loved the personal stories of the author – his authenticity and vulnerability. I loved the stories written by Sak, Pun, and Theary even more.
It is not overly wordy. I read it in a bit more than one hour. It wasted none of my time, and gave me a chance for reflections about some of the biggest spiritual mysteries.
It is well written, and flows very smoothly. It was also very professionally edited and formatted. I published 19 books on my own, and I appreciate a solid craft when I see it.
If you are a Christian, read this book. Doubly so, if you struggle with how to live out your faith and care for the poor.
If you are not a Christian, read this book as well. You are a human being and 7 Attitudes of the Helping Heart goes over very universal human affairs.