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Perceptions of “Dying to Control” from a Local Church Pastor

Bryan Baker

Bryan Baker is the founder of Ministry Logistics and a Local Church Pastor in Big Timber, Montana.

Guest Post by Bryan Baker

Full disclosure requires me to say that I have known Leon for a little over a year. I have also been helping him build his online real estate (i.e. website, blog, and social media presence).

That said, Leon honestly wants my real opinion.

A number of times over the last year I have asked Leon, “Do you really want my opinion?” His response is always the same, “Of course.”

I decided to read Dying to Control before we finalized working together. It was a quick read: Honest, from the gut, thoughtful, and a little edgy.

I am as far from edgy as a person gets. Sometimes edgy is about ticking off mom, dad, the grandparents, and everyone else with a tradition or two. Leon is sincere and every word of the book has been crafted with that sincerity. His edge is good!

I was also nervous about having Leon preach in the church I pastor. I was scared he would get me in trouble.

But I invited him anyway and surprise, no one beat down my door the next day.

People responded with affirmation, understanding, and the question, “Why haven’t we heard this before?”

Here are some of my takeaways from Dying to Control, having Leon preach, and from the discussion group he led.

People are tired of the arguments of yesteryear.

Evolution and human sexuality may be important topics, but so much energy has gone into fighting these battles while the rest of the world has started talking about different things.

Are they important?

I think so, but these conversations aren’t  happening in the same room most people are in. Leon’s story of the evolutionist and creationist having a verbal duke fest is interesting because most of us leave those arguments wondering who won and why we were listening. Most of these discussions are an exercise in futility. Few people leave with a new perspective and most leave more entrenched in their own thinking.

People are excited about things that matter.


photo credit: Urban Woodswalker via photopin cc

People want more from life than window dressing. Mannequins serve a great purpose, but none of us wants to be one. People are tired of living life like we are on display. We know something is wrong. The act of dressing up, looking like we have it all together, and keeping up with the Jones family is nothing more than a facade.

We may not know how to take off our masks, but we know they exist. There is a desire to come out from “behind the tree” as Leon describes it. Our self-made costumes, masks, and personal attempts to hide aren’t working and we know it.

Coming out from behind “the tree” is an exciting invitation! Scary, but exciting.

Genesis 3 is surprisingly relevant for today. Adam and Eve hiding behind the tree is replayed every day.

Last month I saw (heard) a few dozen people asking Leon questions and wrestling with material found in Dying to Control. All of those people were grappling with their own stuff: broken marriages, rebellious kids, addiction, sickness, legalistic religion, and the multiplicity of other human predicaments.

Most people walked away from that conversation saying, “This is good!” And, “I need to think more on what it looks like to come out from behind the tree.” The tree is a metaphor for how all of us tend to hide – hide from God, from our own brokenness, from each other.

Maybe that’s what’s so refreshing about Leon, and Dying to Control.

He’s inviting us to answer God’s question, “Where are you?”

God knows where we are, so it may seem like a stupid question. So maybe the question isn’t for his knowledge, but for ours?

Do we know where  we are?

This is a good question for us to think about.

I spent a week with Leon last month. I think Leon enjoys pushing my buttons, challenging my theology, and critiquing Evangelical Christianity, of which I am a part. But all in all, I agree with him (mostly). And given the chance I will have him preach, teach, and lead discussions again. I have personally benefited from the read, and from his friendship.

His material is relevant for today. The cool thing is, he doesn’t see it as “his material.” He wants us to carry the discussion.

So if the discussion is going to happen, we better help carry it!

There are two things I would like to see happen now.

  1. I would like to see another chapter. The book has nine chapters and it would be great to see another one that summarizes Dying to Control and some next steps. I want him to give that chapter away to us, his readers, for free. Let’s just call it the unwritten chapter and see if he decides to write it. I think there is some uncovered ground yet to be revealed.
  2. I would also like to see a group of people wrestle with the material, ask questions, and maybe even put together some follow-up material or a workbook for others to use in their discussions.

Let me know what you think in the comment section below. Or you could just send Leon an email and let him know what you think. You might even tell him to get rid of the guest post guy!



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