When Life's Not Working: Seven Simple Choices for a Better Tomorrow

Bob Merritt Baker Books (April 1, 2011) ISBN-10: 080101378X

Resources - When Life's Not WorkingIn When Life’s Not Working, the author (the senior pastor at Eagle Brook Church in Twin Cities, MN) takes a candid look at his life and some of the results of life choices he had made. Though he was the pastor of a multi-site church with thousands of members, he realized that something was lacking—life was just not working like it should.  He breaks down success into the making of seven simple choices.  His suggestions require a re-evaluation of what is success.

The book is divided into three sections. The first section lays the groundwork. The middle section contains seven chapters—one for each of the simple choices. I found this section of the book to be the most insightful.  The seven simple choices are:


  1. Give It One More Day: Don’t Quit
  2. Manage Your Loads: Do a Few  Things Well
  3. Give Yourself Time: Be Prepared
  4. Find Your Rhythm: Increase Your Consistency
  5. Have Barbed-Wire Discipline: Use Small Tugs
  6. Try Things you Can’t Do: Stretch Yourself
  7. Avoid the Fatal Fall: Practice Self-Control

I took much away from the chapter entitled “Manage Your Loads.” In this chapter, Bob Merritt discusses the wisdom of choosing five big values and being sure that everything one does fits in with one of those values.  He says, “What did you do today? Take a moment and think about all the things you did today and then ask yourself a second question: is what I did today the way I want to spend my life? Because what you did today is your life” (pg. 83).  He asks if what we did today lines up with why God put us on the planet.  The author’s five big values are: have a close relationship with God, have a great marriage, have a strong family, be physically fit and have a purposeful career.

I also enjoyed the section on barbed-wire discipline.  He shares an anecdote that encourages taking small steps to accomplish a long-term goal.

Throughout the book, the author shares how he had to make some hard choices in order to preserve his relationships with his family and coworkers.  Through some work with a counsellor, he was forced to slow down and listen to his flaws—the roadblocks to thriving relationships (his definition of success).  I appreciated his candidness.

The third section of When Life’s Not Working reads more like a collection of thoughts that weren’t necessarily related to the book, although they were insightful.

I highly recommend When Life’s Not Working.  I have purposefully implemented some of these simple choices into my everyday.

Reviewed by Jennifer Bugg

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