Rob Bell is a friend. I wrote a book about him. We spent something on the order of two days together talking, with me mostly asking questions. And during the time he said, “Wow, this is like therapy.” And then, later, “You know I think we could be friends.” We visited him last spring in Los Angeles and we’ve stayed in touch.
And even though I’ve read most everything he has written, when his new book came out, I ordered it right away. Now this is his first real “self-help” book and I’m not surprised. Bell is on a roll. My family and I saw him at the Oprah Tent Revival as he wowed 15,000 attendees (mostly screaming women) in Key Arena in Seattle. My fiancée and daughters got to go down and see him backstage, ever the showman; we thought he was the best speaker on the dais. Having front row seats, I thought, “Yep, you’ve made the big time.”
Bell has always wanted to speak to HUGE crowds, sort of in the Donald Trump tradition, though without the hair, superficiality or the bravado—oh yeah, sort of the opposite of Trump.
Nonetheless, Bell has the emotional energy of all great charismatic figures—he seems to have answered the questions that a lot of folks are asking. There is an emotional energy that is created between him and the audience that is undeniable; he is an Energy Star. Bell loves it and the audiences love him. And in every way I’m proud of him. I know that his journey hasn’t been easy; that there are things in his past that he’s had to rise above, so when I see him doing his work in such glory on the stage, I think, “Wow, now there is a human being fully alive.
And truly, Bell’s How to be HERE book is as good a roadmap out there on how to wake up to who you are and want to be and how to be realistic and smart about the journey.
Bell knows that in truth there is no one in this world that is not chosen, not given glory, not amazing in and of themselves—and we all know this in our guts–auto mechanics that make our car’s purr; handymen who turn a problem into a thing of beauty in your kitchen; teachers who turn a key in your head and heart that no one else has touched; mom’s, as Bell says, that aren’t simply mom’s but artists in building humans with courage and brilliance. Every one of us can do something that not only brings us fully alive but brings life to others. As Bell riffs, today you are “here” now, you are “breathing” now, you not only can, but you must “create” a life that no one else can live.
And Bell tells the truth: he has failed; he has had to wrestle through five full drafts on a book; he’s done speeches that bombed, written things that no one wants to read. But here is the thing, as he says, “Failing is highly underrated.” Yep, it moves us to try again, to know what doesn’t work, and to move on, if we have the courage. And Bell has failed and moved on too. Oh, and I love this, QUIT SPECULATING ABOUT SOMEONE ELSE’S LIFE:
What about them?
When the better question is,
What is that to you?
The New question is this:
Who am I not to do this?
Furthermore, his chapter on the difference between craft and success is worth the book:
Craft is your awareness that all the hours you’re putting in are adding up to something, that they’re producing in you skill and character and substance.
Success says: What more can I get?
Craft says: Can you believe I get to do this?
And, of course, Bell loves crazy words—you will get to learn about ikigai (but you’ll have to read the book to find out!) So, go get the book and read it.
I’ve said this to Bell multiple times, “I miss hearing your sermons.” Nothing that he has done since leaving the pulpit is quite like his sermons. I listened to and transcribed nearly one hundred of Bell’s sermons back in the day when he was preaching. I would listen to them first on the treadmill, which would cause me to run for 35 and sometimes up to 50 minutes–crazy preacher—then I’d go home and listen again as I transcribed them. They were, well, the best stuff I’ve ever heard in a church or really anywhere on spiritual matters. Bell knows how to dig deep into the scriptures and come away with amazing stuff, much of which I will never forget. Read my book on Bell and you can understand why I called it, Rob Bell and a New American Christianity.
So, yeah, when he says on the flap of the new book (and authors write this stuff btw) that he’s a “spiritual teacher.” Well, okay, I miss Pastor Rob Bell. And I know he’s tired of me saying this, because he feels he still is pastoring and yes, that’s true. But the depth of his engagement with scripture is brilliant, griping and unforgettable. I think he’ll do this again one day. But for now, he’s being brilliant in new ways, and when I see him doing his thing, I think Rob Bell is here NOW and it is beautiful.
Hey, Rob is at it with sermons much more than I thought, so, here are some sermons that you might enjoy from his award winning Robcast … Check out these gems from the …