Creatures of Habit

“So how do you know if you are self-centered? Ask yourself if these things are true in your life: Do you often become defensive? Do you blame everyone else for your problems? Do you have a hard time cooperating with others at work? Are your conversations usually about yourself?” ~ Steve Poe, Creatures of Habit.

In Creatures of Habit, Pastor Steve Poe helps Christians identify and break free from the destructive patterns that are keeping them from the joy-filled, flourishing life Jesus promised. True transformation is God’s work—our job is to listen, obey, and put into practice what he’s already directing us to do.

Steve Poe has been a pastor for over thirty-four years, and during that time, he has counseled hundreds of people. He’s seen that poor choices often become bad habits that, in turn, cause people a lot of problems. Hundreds of things can become a bad habit in our lives, but Poe focuses on the most common, among them: anger, lust, worry, cynicism, pride, self-centeredness, and greed.

So, before I started writing this review, I took a deep breath. It’s hard for me to write a negative review, especially when it is a book about Jesus penned by a man of God. I hope my constructive comments are helpful, not hurtful. My intention was to read a chapter at night as my devotions. But I just couldn’t do it. It would be days between chapters.

First off, let me say that there were some real nuggets of wisdom in this book, and I often felt convicted. My copy is filled with yellow highlighting. The problem I had was with the writing. Some chapters would make wonderful sermons addressed to seekers, but I found the content too simplistic and longed for more meat. There were many grammatical errors, too many quotes from other people, too many lists separated by too many commas, too much hyperbole, and too many platitudes.

One of the author’s biggest faux pas was that most of his illustrations were about or for men, rather than for a broader audience. A few other things made me angry (I know, that’s a bad habit). In the chapter about anger, Poe wrote, “Some have said depression is actually anger turned inwards.” Who in the world said that? According to the American Psychiatric Association, one in fifteen adults suffer from depression in any given year, including me. I imagine most of them, including me, would reject your hypothesis. The scientific community agrees there are many causes of depression, most of which involve brain chemistry.

I have a recommendation for this, and other authors. It is disingenuous to use the phrase “my friends.” Since I don’t know you, I’m not your friend, nor is the bulk of your target audience. That phraseology is perfect during a sermon, but not in a book.

Whew, sorry for the negativity on this review, I’m just being honest. I make a living writing and editing other people’s books, so I tend to be hypercritical. Ask any of my clients how brutal I can be. I suspect Steve Poe is a phenomenal preacher, or his churches wouldn’t be experiencing explosive growth, and there’s no doubt he has led many to Christ. The concepts in Creatures of Habit were well formed, but I’m just not sure writing is his gifting.  3 stars.

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