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Deadly Viper 12th May, 2008

Posted by Scotty in Books, Heart, Leadership, Life.

So I’ve just finished reading Deadly Viper Character Assassins which was written by Jud Wilhite (Pastor of Central Christian Church in CA) and Mike Foster (who founded XXXchurch). Mike spoke at our church Men’s Retreat back in April. One of the men in our church has been so impacted by the book that he footed the bill to buy all the men who attended the retreat a copy of the book. I didn’t want to fly through it so I waited a while to read it when it would have more of a chance to sink in… and it did!

The book is about character and integrity, looking at 7 areas of character where leaders often trip up. It is a short book and easy to read, but that makes it a very quotable book. On every page there are succinct sentences jam-packed with good things to digest and live buy.

The book is about more than calling people out on these issues of character, it is about the importance of openness and transparency in godly men and women. The book exhorts us to find the one of two people in our lives who we can trust, and to open up to them about the areas where we struggle. It is about living a life of radical integrity where we do everything we can to steer clear of the assassins who are waiting to take us down, but it is also about radical grace where rather than condemning someone for taking a ‘misstep’, we love them and support them, helping them to get back on the right track. If you lead a team, it’s a great book to get and work through together!

Each chapter covers details of that particular Character Assassin and powerful stories of successes and failures in those areas. You also find some helpful steps and suggestions to guard against them!

These ninja experts are working twenty-five hours a day, eight days a week to undo you. (p11)

The 7 traits that the guys explore in the book are deadly in the lives of many. (After each one I’ll put my favourite quote from the chapter). They are:1. Character Creep
Character creep is about the road to failure. Failings in our character don’t happen overnight. We don’t suddenly wake up wanting to throw our lives down the toilet. Instead, it starts with small compromises in the area of integrity until a big mistake becomes an easy step to take!

It is a methodical process where small compromises and rationalizations lead to areas we never thought we would go. (p25)

2. Zi Qi Qi Ren
This chapter looks at honesty by exploring it’s converse… our ability to tell half-truths and think we’re doing ok. Rather than hiding our weak areas and setting ourselves up for a fall, we are encouraged to talk about them with those we trust, being honest, so that people can help us stay on track. It all begins with one small half-truth, next thing you know you are trapped in a web of deceit, lying not only to others, but to yourself.

We once hid our goof-ups with large fig leaves placed in strategic locations. Now we cover ourselves with half-truths, shameless puffery, and exaggerations. (p43-44)

3. Amped Emotions
This is something we don’t think too much about! Have you ever noticed how you seem more sure that you’re right when you’re angry? Ever acted impulsively because you got hot under the collar? In this chapter Mike and Jud look at the dangers of bottling things up. Anger and Bitterness are killers. Once we let them fester, we’re on the slippery slope to making some big mistakes!

If you let these people and their actions haunt your thoughts, emotions, and spirit, you allow them to continually damage not only you but those around you. (p78)

4. Headless Sprinting Chicken
What a big topic in ministry today… BURNOUT! How easy it is to get so busy that we wear ourselves thin. Often people counsel that the cure to burnout is balance. Leaders aren’t balanced people… they are passionate people who go all out to accomplish the thing they are called to. Rather than putting a hold on the passion and trying to balance your life, know your strengths and weaknesses, focus on your strengths, find people who are good at your weak areas, and then be “busy about the best things!”. I am the only one who knows my limits. It’s up to me to be wise and expend my energy on the things that are important.

If you’re going to be a leader you have to learn to lead yourself. (p93)

5. Boom Chicka Wah Wah
No prizes for guessing what this one is about. Although it makes much of fidelity to marriage, there is wisdom in here for married and single alike. This isn’t a quick fix answer to pornography addictions and other forms of sexual immorality, but instead encourages you to develop the habit of making healthy choices!

Sexual missteps are rarely about sex. They’re really about our desire for a deep, meaningful, and powerful connection with someone. (p106-107)

6. Bling Bling
The world we live in teaches us that we need “stuff”. It tells us that our value is seen in what we possess, how good it looks, and how much we paid for it. In our role as leaders we need to think less about what we want and more about what we can give; we need to value people more than we desire profit. Are you struggling to fund your ‘philosophy of accumulation’? I love that this isn’t just two men talking about an ideal world, but two men who are living the things they write about. (Check out another of Mike’s projects which he started as a result of being challenged to defeat the bling bling assassin – the junky car club!)

As healthy leaders we much strategically think about how we can be more generous and sacrificial. (p129)

7. High and Mighty
If you’ve never met with this before, you’ve got your work cut out to convince me that you’re not lying! PRIDE! This is one assassin that I have to deal with on a regular basis. This chapter looks at the dangers of success when we achieve it without having the right attitude. Are we loving people and serving them, or are we too caught up in position and power? Are people following you because you’re their boss, or are they following you because you’ve earned their respect?

Appropriate humility is knowing who we are and where we fit and striving to make a difference there. (p148)

Scott’s Final Thoughts
I love the book. It is simple. It is short. It is well designed (all artistically done). I’m drawn to the book even more because I got to meet Mike Foster and hear him share his story both on and offstage. This guy is real. He’s living it, and has a genuine desire to help us live with integrity.

This really is a great book. You’d be making a wise investment to spend $15 and get yourself a copy.

We always need to be working on our character. Our lives are a constant journey towards Christlikeness. In the words of Mike and Jud:

Character is a daily, moment-by-moment process. There is no finish line. (p160)



1. Deadly Viper | Great Books Digest - 12th May, 2008

[…] Go to the author’s original blog: Deadly Viper […]

2. Scott Newton Smith - 13th May, 2008

Great post. So needed. Burnout is a big problem and #4 has become a passion for us in teaching guys in ministry how to avoid it. Great advice about being busy but about the best things. Of course, even the best things need to be left to lie occasionally so that we can refuel.

Scott Newton Smith
“The podcast for busy pastors”

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