Valloton’s father died when he was young, and he grew up with alcoholic step-fathers, who would beat him and call him a “stupid ass.” His first step-father flat-out said that they were the trash that came with the treasure. As a result, he grew up considering himself insignificant. After he joined the staff at Bethel, God started showing him about this attitude was hurting the people around him. Prov 30:21-22 says that the earth cannot handle a pauper becoming a king, which is because a pauper sees himself and insignificant, and assumes that resources are limited so when you receive, that means that there is less for me.
Since we are are saints (= holy believers) (1 Cor 1:2a) who have a new nature (2 Cor 5:17) that is divine (2 Pet 1:4) and who think like God (1 Cor 2:16), we are royalty. We are God’s children, and the children of the king are princes and princesses. Royalty thinks differently. Moses and Solomon were raised as royalty; they were always treated like they were important. Royalty knows that there is always enough resources. Understanding who we are is a key part to living out who God made us to be.
We also need to identify what has caused our mindsets, and repent of the choices we have made to deal with that. First, we need to see ourselves as valuable as God sees us. Otherwise, when someone treats us as more valuable than who we think we are, we will sabotage our relationship with that person. Second, we need to not meditate on our sins. God forgave us, and we need to consider ourselves dead to sin (Rom 6:11). Instead of meditating on our sin, we meditate on the promises of God, as it is what we do with God’s promises that is what directs our lives. Third, we need to stop believing lies about who we are, and we need to forgive and not be envious or jealous. When we believe lies, we are the Devil’s captives, but the truth will set us free. When we harbor unforgiveness or envy or jealousy, God may allow the Devil to torment us, in order to bring us to the point where we are willing to forgive. (This might be a little controversial, although Valloton does offer 1 Sam 18:7-10, where God sends an evil spirit after Saul becomes jealous. He also cites his experience with people who are under severe oppression and who harbor unforgiveness.)
It is important that we live out of the identity that God gives us, not the identity that others have given us. In fact, we may have taken on the names others have called us and become that: Valloton has a 3rd grade reading level because he accepted what his step-father said about him being a “stupid ass.” He has met many women that struggled with immorality because their fathers called them “whore.” Similarly in the Bible: Jacob was named “deceiver” and that is what he became, but God gave him the name Israel (“prince of God”) and today he has an entire ethnicity named after him. Similarly, we need to listen for God’s name for us. In the Bible, names are identity; we need to hear God’s name for us and accept his identity for ourselves.
Living as royalty is different than as a slave or in poverty. While God values obedience, we are His bride, and he is looking for a Proverbs 31 woman, not a slave woman, who will partner with him and share life with Him. When God says something, it is often the invitation for a dialogue rather than a command. So Abraham bargains with God, Moses insists that God not wipe out the people he is frustrated with, and in the stories Valloton relates, God often invites him to ask him questions. In fact, when God prophesies destruction against a city or nation, what He is looking for is to see if there are any righteous people that cry out for mercy like Abraham did for Sodom. Very practically, we need to give our children the same honor: invite them to be a part of family decisions, and allow them to question decisions which affect them (with the right attitude, of course).
One trait of royalty is that true royalty treats everyone with honor. Some people may not be honorable, but we still treat them that way because that is our nature. Most people, however, are honorable, and we need to treat them that way, especially the elderly whom our culture disempowers. Part of honor is submitting to authority, which is another failing of modern American culture (partly due to 50 years of our leaders being revealed to have lied, cheated, etc., also partly due to a generation without true fathers). When we submit to spiritual authority, we receive their authority; if we submit to no one, we have no authority.
Royalty is also covenantal, that is, it maintains life-long committments. This is best seen in marriage, where children are birthed out of committment, and the parents write messages of love to each other on the hearts of the children. Divorce, or being birthed out of lust, causes the opposite to be written, that the child is not important. However, a similar thing can happen in the way the church relates to non-believers. Valloton notes that many times spiritual children are born not dissimilar to a one-night stand, where the message and the music create a “romantic” (in a spiritual sense) mood, but after the child is born and is a new creation in Christ, they are left to fend for themselves. Valloton was fortunate in the church that he came to Christ in immediately offered his choice of one of three man to father him.
This book is a good discussion of the mindset of poverty and what Charismatics call the “orphan spirit” (essentially, considering oneself to be alone and unloved, like an orphan) in the life of a Christian. I had already been exposed to the idea that our identity is not “sinners saved by grace” (although it is a true statement), that we died with Christ and now have a new identity. However, I had been having trouble living it out. I found the first half of this book to be very helpful in showing how I had unhealthy attitudes and beliefs. As I read through the first half of the book, I discovered I needed to repent of a lot of ways of thinking. As I did so, I noticed that I became a lot happier, and also more consistently felt God’s love for me.
However, Valloton makes a lot of statements about the relationship without really backing them up. Often this is a pithy statement of how things work relationally (“confidence always looks like arrogant to the insecure” or “suspicion is the gift of discernment being used by the spirit of fear”), which often strike me as generally true, but you cannot just toss off something like that in the middle of your paragraph without defending it, you need to back that up with something. How do you expect me to believe something as truth just because you asserted it? Everyone is asserting something (even me), but that is no guarantee that it is correct. More importantly, though, some of the ideas are backed up with just one scripture, which is substantially different in the translation he quotes from than in NIV, ESV, or the NET translations. Using just one scripture is pretty tenuous, but when other translations do not lend themselves to the argument at all, it is just very difficult for me to accept the idea as true. For instance, he says that the reason why we become like those we hate the most is that we always have them on our mind, so we are unknowingly meditating on them, and Prov 23:7 says “For as a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” Except that most translations do not say anything remotely similar, nor does the context lend itself to that interpretation.
Overall the content is good and challenging. There are a number of interesting things that I would like to accept, but am not sure about (due to lack of evidence presented) and some things that have dubious scriptural support that I am really unconvinced about, but they are not central to the book. I found the book very helpful to me, and I expect that most readers will have a similar experience.
Good content, with the important parts well illustrated by stories from the author’s life. Some assertions seem very insightful, but are not backed up at all. Likewise, often scripture does not appear to support the point being made. The organization is weak; it was difficult for me to write the summary because there was not a strong flow. This is not a huge problem, taking each chapter independently works fine. For a first-time author with a self-professed 3rd grade reading level, I would say this is an excellent beginning. I am ranking this 2.5 points above average (5) because the content is really good. I am not sure this will be a 100-year book, but it is certainly a helpful book.