Are You Gonna Risk it Sparky?: a book review

The old Beatle song begins,” You say you want a revolution, Well you know, we all want to change the world.” It is true right? We see destruction, brokenness, tension, extreme poverty, racism, sexism, and a whole list of isms that  hurt humanity. And we dream of  making an impact on our world.  The problem is that most of us do not get around to doing much of anything. We settle into our routines and do what is comfortable. We may take small risks but the revolution we want has not failed. It has been left untried.

Jason Jaggard is the CEO and founder of Spark Good. He and his organization are dedicated to helping people reach their creative potential. Jaggard organizes “Spark Groups’–groups of ten to fifteen people who meet weekly together for five week. Each member of a Spark Group commits to taking one risk per week which is immediate (something you can do in a week), controllable (within your power to do), challenging (out of your comfort zone) and positive (something that makes your life or your world better).  In Spark he shares the risks he’s taken and the stories of other risk-takers that have gone on to do something beautiful.

So what is a Spark? “A Spark is a choice. A small risk”(12). Anything worth having requires risk. In fact, Jaggard contends that 100 percent of the things you want are outside your comfort zone (29). If you think about my own life, that  rings true. Everything in my life that matters came through personal risk. Jaggard wants to show us the road map to a more meaningful life and to help us make the world a better place.

This book is life-coachy, and is aimed at helping people achieve their God-given potential.  Yet Jaggard writes as a Christian and so critiques human potential. We shouldn’t do everything we can (that would be sin). We should accept our limitations and unique shape (that is how God designed us). Ultimately a life of significance, according to Jaggard, isn’t just doing what we want with our lives. A truly meaningful life is a life lived in cooperation with God and participating in his mission in the world (he illustrates this with a NASCAR analogy which I have chosen to forgive him for). I also liked the idea of his “Spark Groups” because they show the power of groups to do something that matters. Jaggard shares stories of groups that risked together that did something that mattered.

On a personal note, this book provided a fitting word for me. I am in a frustrating season of  life where I feel like vocationally I’m not doing what I was meant to do.  Jaggard’s advice inspires me to respond to the jerks in life (that which pulls at me) to spark something new, something good, something beautiful. I don’t have a Spark Group around me to participate in, but I have a church and I have friends and I promise to put these pages to practice and take a few risks in the weeks ahead.

So you may take a risk and read this book. For what it’s worth, I give it ★★★★☆

Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah for providing me a copy of Spark in exchange for my honest review.

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