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Shrewd: Daring to Live the Startling Command of Jesus Paperback – August 1, 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Shrewd is almost flawless. Rick Lawrence explores Jesus' mysterious command to be 'as wise as a serpent, as innocent as a dove'­ from every angle. You're hooked into a mesmerizing journey, following the 'Sensei of Shrewd.'"   
--Leonard Sweet, best-selling author, professor at Drew University, and chief contributor to Sermons.com

"This book is flat-out brilliant! Ten pages in and my friends and I were already asking ourselves in meetings, 'How can we be shrewd in this situation?' I loved this book!"
--Jon Acuff, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of Quitter and Stuff Christians Like

"Most of my life, I've felt guilty about dealing shrewdly with the world--particularly in the ultra-complex Middle East where I serve. This book has not only given me permission to be shrewd but has provided the biblical framework for it."
--Carl Medearis, author of Speaking of Jesus and Muslims, Christians and Jesus

"Rick has an astonishing way of taking the truth of Christ's teachings and translating them, simply, into the practice of daily living. He has taken a verse on which I have always stood and given it life and application to even my routine activities."
-Teresa Weesner, Director of Development for The Providence Network

"It has been some time since a book has changed how I think in everyday ministry situations. Shrewd has done just that. Shrewd gets better with each turn of the page--a rare feat--and it will be on the reading list for my leadership classes."
--Terry Linhart, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Religion and Philosophy, Bethel College-Indiana

From the Author

Shrewdness is a weapons-grade relational tactic--a way of thinking and acting--that Jesus long ago urged His followers to use in their uprising against the powers and 'spiritual forces of wickedness' of this world. Shrewd people (and Jesus is the Exemplar) first study how things work, and then leverage that knowledge to tip the balance in a favored direction. Shrewdness is the expert application of the right force at the right time in the right place. Most Christians have a negative reaction to the word "shrewd," but Jesus not only exemplified this way of relating to others in His redemptive mission on earth, He gave us a mandate to grow much, much more adept in our practice of it. 

The point of His "Parable of the Shrewd Manager" (Luke 16:1-8) is specifically to highlight the behavior of a lazy, lying, good-for-nothing servant who has no qualities we'd want to emulate except for one: his shrewd way of saving himself from the consequences of his terrible behavior. Jesus highlights this anti-role-model for one purpose: "The people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light." Later, in preparation for sending out His disciples on their first ministry journey without Him, He tells them to take nothing with them (no clothing, money, or "insurance" of any kind)--instead, He tells them they need just two things: 1. Be as shrewd as a serpent, and 2. Be as innocent as a dove. The word He uses here for "serpent" is the same one He uses for Satan. And the word He uses here for "dove" is the same the Bible uses to describe the Holy Spirit. He's telling His disciples to be as shrewd as Satan is, but as innocent as the Holy Spirit is. 

Shrewdness, then, is a way of living and relating that Jesus first modeled for us, then commanded us to do likewise.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: David C. Cook; New edition (August 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1434700739
  • ISBN-13: 978-1434700735
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #217,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rick is the longtime Executive Editor of GROUP Magazine (youthministry.com) and the co-leader of the Simply Youth Ministry Conference (youthministry.com/conference). His latest books include Shrewd: Daring to Live the Startling Command of Jesus (2012, shrewdbook.com), and Sifted: God's Scandalous Response to Satan's Outrageous Demand (2011, siftedbook.com).

He's authored hundreds of magazine articles and is the author, co-author, or editor of 34 books. He co-authored The Family Friendly Church (1998), IT: Innovative Tools for Youth Ministry (2004), and Youth Ministry In the 21st Century (2005). He's authored TrendWatch (2000), JC Q's: 150 Jesus-Centered Discussion Questions (2006), Jesus-Centered Youth Ministry (2007), the adult/teenager small-group curriculum In Pursuit of Jesus (2007), Make Their Day (2009), Ten Tough Things (2009), and 99 Thoughts for Jesus-Centered Living (2012)--all published by Group Publishing.

He's a consultant to national research organizations and a frequent conference and workshop speaker. He has been interviewed by national publications and media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Homeword with Jim Burns, Dennis Rainey's FamilyLife Today, and the Moody Bible Institute radio network, among others.

He's married to Beverly Rose and has a 13-year-old daughter named Lucy Rose and a 9-year-old daughter named Emma Grace.

You can follow Rick on Twitter @RickSkip, on Facebook at Facebook.com/RickSkip, or you can email him at RLawrence@group.com, or you can drag a banner behind your biplane over Denver, Colorado with a special message for Rick.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I was intrigued by Shrewd precisely because you don't hear a lot surrounding this topic. But I was disappointed on the delivery for two reasons. First, the premise is built upon a misunderstanding of the two passages which use the word shrewd (Matthew 10 & Luke 16). Second, and closely related, because the foundation was shaky you never got a crisp definition of what he means by Christian shrewdness.

Let's addresses my first objection. Matthew 10:16 says, "Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves." This verse is in the context of persecution and shepherding Jesus's flock in the midst of wolves. So the command to be wise as a serpent it seems most natural to connect with dealing with the wolves mentioned and the innocent (harmless) as doves connects with dealing with the sheep. Lawrence in the book tries to make the connection between serpent and Satan and dove and the Holy Spirit but Matthew doesn't seem to make that connection (pp. 34-35).

Luke 16 Jesus tells a parable about the dishonest manager who is about to getting fired so he settles his master's debts for half price and saves his job. Jesus immediately provides the point of the parable. Jesus says, " I tell you, use the riches of this world to help others. In that way, you will make friends for yourselves. Then when your riches are gone, you will be welcomed into your eternal home in heaven" (v. 9). Rick suggest Jesus was praising the servant's dishonesty as a positive model of shrewdness (pp. 153-54) but that line of thought misses the point which Jesus explicit teaches in verse 9.

Now the second objection. The word shrewd rarely occurs and where it does is constrained by the context of these scenarios.
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Format: Paperback
SHREWD by Rick Lawrence is one of the most interesting books I've read. Exploring Jesus' command to be shrewd as vipers and innocent as doves, Lawrence takes us on a journey into human interaction that is unlike what you would commonly think of Jesus outlining to his followers. Rick Lawrence takes a look at Jesus' often confusing parable of the shrewd manager in Luke 16 and shows us how to wield influence in a way that Jesus has commanded and exemplified.

SHREWD is a great leadership book, but its principles are also important for anyone because we all deal with relationships, and we all have moments where we need to exercise influence and we may not be sure how. The book is about leverage. Specifically, Lawrence tells us over and over again that being shrewd is about applying the right leverage in the right place at the right time.

It's not about manipulating people because being shrewd in the way of Jesus is about helping people and keeping people's best in mind. Lawrence believes that Christians need to be more intentional about being shrewd in their human interactions because the expansion of the kingdom is helped along by people being shrewd like Jesus. The book even argues that Jesus was shrewd in every human interaction he had and gives us plenty of examples.

People may find themselves uncomfortable with the ideas in this book because it's not what they're used to, but Lawrence is thoroughly biblical and paints shrewdness in a way that honors God because it's the way that Jesus interacted. Every Christian needs to be made aware of the message of this book.

I received this book for free for review from David C. Cook through NetGalley.com, and the opinions contained in this review are completely my own
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Format: Paperback
Shrewd:Daring to Live the Startling Command of Jesus by Rick Lawrence is the second of Rick's Jesus-Centered books where he dives deep into a little known/followed edict of Christ. The first one was Sifted and that book is phenomenal as well.

I found Rick's book to be an excellent commentary on the paradox that Christians face to be "Shrewd as snakes, innocent as doves. Rick describes the proclivity for people to always take the frontal approach and not learn aspects of communication and leverage that occur when one take a sideways approach that often yields better results. He discusses the parable of the shrewd manager to reinforce this biblical concept.

I appreciate that Rick incorporated several stories to reinforce this concept in scriptures and demonstrates how Jesus used leverage rather than 'frontal-assault' mode to benefit his ministry and get his point across, rather than a brutal frontal approach.

Rick provides tons of anecdotal evidence of this in modern day life and his stories all strike the point. I highly recommend this book for all readers.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed an encouraging look at some puzzling aspects of Jesus' ministry. This book is very easy to read and thought provoking. Rick Lawrence encourages the reader to think wisely before acting, considering what acts will bring about God's good.
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Format: Paperback
Rick Lawrence in his new book, "Shrewd" published by David C. Cook gives us Daring to Live the Startling Command of Jesus.

From the Back Cover: It's the one Bible story you won't hear in church.
It doesn't seem to make sense: Jesus tells his disciples to take a lesson from Satan himself.
A scandalous idea? Yes. Essential to the Christian life? Definitely.
Drawing on Jesus's parable of the shrewd manager in Luke 16, Rick Lawrence explores Jesus's shocking mandate to be as shrewd as Satan and as innocent as the Holy Spirit. In fact, Jesus implies, if we are going to be any good for the Kingdom of God, we've got to be a lot shrewder than we are now.
Shrewd shows us how Jesus was naturally shrewd in every encounter he had, using leverage such as laughter, generosity, and bluntness to influence a situation for good.
God calls us to be shrewd without evil intent, just as Jesus was. Because the truth is that we have no salvation outside of the holy shrewdness of a loving God. And that's a scandalous story worth telling.

The Dictionary defines shrewd as, "marked by clever discerning awareness and hardheaded acumen." I have to admit the parable in Luke chapter 16 is not one of my favorites. Jesus is telling the story and He tells us flat-out at the beginning that the manager is unjust. As the story unfolds we find him acting even more unjust. Yet, at the end of the story, this unjust manager is praised by his master. Then Jesus tells His disciples that they should be shrewd like that manager. He tells them shrewd like a serpent, wise like a dove. Pastor Lawrence has done it again. He has taken a hard teaching from Jesus and make it not only easy to understand but easy to apply to our lives.
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