Shaping up: Lessons in Motives and Attitudes, Michael Uche Iheanacho, Footprint Media, pp. 174
One of the biggest challenges facing Christianity today is not lack of faith but character. Only few teachers deal with character development; what comes out of the pulpit these days do not address this critical issue. We only get to hear messages about prosperity; wealth without work, or spiritual attacks, which blames enemies – real or imagined for all negative outcomes.
In shaping up with the sub-title –Lessons in motive and attitude – Pastor Michael Iheanacho, author and Bible expositor, has made a bold attempt to deal with the character flaws that often shipwreck the faith of God’s people, right from the old covenant days to the present dispensation of Grace.
This book, with 17 chapters, reminds Christians of the importance of attitude, and motive, which are at the core of the teachings of Jesus Christ. Yet, and sadly, unlike the first century church, the modern church no longer major in the propagation of these noble virtues. Shaping Up, therefore, is a welcome departure from the norms and a refreshing wake-up call to ministers of God to go back to the back truth of scripture, which is for all believers to live by godly standards.
The book opens with the “Heart and Motive”. In this sub-title of the first chapter, the author offers a summary of the entire book: Fear God and Keep His commandments; this is an attitude required of man (Eccl 12:13). It is the whole duty of man, according to the Bible. Motive determines the way our action is viewed, and the word of God is the legal basis upon which every action is judged.
This obviously is why every single paragraph in this book is backed by a relevant verse from the Bible. The copious quotation of scripture nor only helps the readers’ understanding of the book, they undergird the arguments of the author.
We see that the wounds of a friend may hurt, but because they are intended for correction, it is appreciated (Prov. 27:6). However, the kisses of a hater are false because, being clothed with deceit, would ultimate inflict damage. Mr. Iheanacho’s clever reference to Jacob in his famous all-night wrestling bout with an angel whereby he was wounded on the hip and ended up limping all his life, clearly gives us winning example of a friend’s wound (Gen. 32:25, 28).
That bout changed Jacob’s name to Israel and transformed his cunning nature (attitude) into a reliable friend of God. Besides, the author’s training as a lawyer is brought to bear plainly in the subtle way he employs scripture to drive home his points in the mind of his reading public.
Still on Motive, when God sees a man he could use, the authors says, God would first sieve his motive. That was why God picked David instead any of his brothers. We could see how David turned out in his many exploits in the Bible. When your motive is right, you are setting yourself up for God’s use. When God told Solomon to ask for any blessing, he asked for wisdom to rule God’s people, not material wealth, or any personal aggrandizement. God was so moved by his selfless motive that He gave him wealth, power, etc beyond what anyone could ever have, in addition to great wisdom.
The second key subject of the book’s main theme is Attitude. And this is dealt with from chapter 3 through 6 before the author returned to motive in chapter 7, and back to Attitude again in chapter 11. Mr. Iheanacho defines attitude as “the spiritual, emotional, and social climate in which you live and to which others are welcome to enjoy or endure,” and he goes on to add that motive is the foundation upon which attitude is built.
The whole of chapter 4 is devoted to the study of hypocritical Attitude, which again, underscores its importance. In a way, the entire teaching of this book is anchored on hypocritical attitude, being the bane of inappropriate behaviours.
However, if you are seeking ways develop your understanding of attitudes; chapter 6 of this book is where to go. Interestingly, since motive is tied to attitude, you’ll find chapter 7, sub-titled Uncovering of Motives, most educative. The unique selling point, USP, of this book is the author’s skill in matching every sub-topic with anecdotes on Bible characters whose character flaws or strengths has help us to understand the subject. Absalom, Saul, are worth studying to see how they have influenced character development.
No doubt, this book is a blueprint for developing character, especially for Christians, but more so, for leaders. I commend it to all readers regardless of their faith, creed or station in life.