Great to Good: How Following Jesus Reshapes Our Ambitions, By Jae Hoon Lee

Great to Good

How Following Jesus Reshapes Our Ambitions

by Jae Hoon Lee

Great to Good
  • Length: 192 pages
  • Dimensions: 5.5 × 8.5 in
  • Published: July 23, 2024
  • Imprint: IVP
  • Item Code: A1065
  • ISBN: 9781514010655

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Greatness is overrated.

People tend to measure success by worldly standards. We assume that greatness comes from charisma, influence, and followers. But God cares more about our character than about what people around us think of our reputations.

Pastor Jae Hoon Lee challenges us not to pursue greatness but to grow in goodness. Jesus called his followers to cultivate character of goodness, not to aspire to positions of power. The faithful Christian life is one that seeks to become good. These reflections and meditations on the good Christian life unpack what it means for the church to live in obedience and faith, to strip away ambitious self-glorification, and to instead live humble lives of goodness and love.

"Pastor Lee's Great to Good is a book that needs to be on your bedside table. The insights and challenges will be ones that you'll return to over and over. The fifty short chapters encouraged, energized, and motivated me to think deeply and biblically about the most crucial issues facing our world, the church, and my own walk with Jesus. Pastor Lee's spiritual insight and grasp of history, theology, and culture, combined with decades of pastoral ministry, provide a rich and much-needed critique of contemporary Christianity and a clarion call to Christlikeness to all who follow Jesus. God spoke to me with grace and conviction through this small but powerful book. I highly recommend it!"

Chip Ingram, founder and teaching pastor with Living on the Edge

"Everyone who has a place of influence—and that is all of us whether in business, politics, church, family, or friendships—should read Jae Hoon Lee's book, Great to Good. The point is not that we are to give up excellence in our callings but that we are to emulate the way of using power demonstrated by Jesus. We should lead not for personal acclaim or advancement but to bring justice and blessing to those under our care. I am particularly glad to recommend this book because its author not only teaches us these truths but personally lives a life of service that reflects the goodness of Christ Jesus."

Greg Waybright, pastor emeritus of Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, California

"Martyn Lloyd-Jones often said that the Christian faith is designed partly to teach people how to think. That is what Great to Good does. And if you will apply what is put forward, it will truly reshape your ambitions. It is one of the most practical, relevant, and stirring books I have read. This book is also prophetic, addressing the very issues that many are afraid to mention. Yes, Pastor Lee enters where angels fear to tread! He writes simply, clearly, and above all, soundly. I recommend this book that unashamedly supports Holy Scripture. This book will change your life."

R. T. Kendall, minister of Westminster Chapel in London, retired

"Everyone in the church talks about following Christ, but so many of us struggle to know exactly what that means in our day-to-day life. If only we had a pearl of wisdom for every area of life! Well, thanks to Jae Hoon Lee's new devotional book, we do. Great to Good will not only make you think but will also challenge you precisely in those areas where the culture is pushing you in a different direction."

Nicholas Perrin, former president of Trinity International University

"Having had the privilege of having Pastor Lee as a doctoral student, I can recommend this book as embodying the ideal of our program: nurturing passionate, reflective practitioners. Pastor Lee's passion for God, the church, and the world pervades each page. His concisely captured insights invite reflection. His practitioner's wisdom and experience transform inspiration into action."

David Currie, dean of the Doctor of Ministry program and professor of pastoral theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"In the context of a highly competitive and success-oriented society like South Korea, it is very refreshing to read the insights and wisdom from Jae Hoon Lee, senior pastor of one of the largest churches in Korea—and the world. Lee integrates his understanding of Christian ministry with practical suggestions for daily practice. This volume provides deep insight and wisdom for Christian leaders as well as for individual Christians who wish to reshape their theological and ministerial understanding of the church and their practical life in order to shift the direction of the church from 'good to great' to 'great to good.'"

Sebastian Kim, Robert Wiley Professor of Renewal in Public Life at Fuller Theological Seminary

"Jae Hoon Lee is an exceptional leader for the global church. As senior pastor of Seoul's dynamic Onnuri Church—and as chairman of the host committee for the Fourth Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization—Pastor Lee's vision for global discipleship truly reaches all nations. In this wide-ranging guide to transformational ministry, he shares pithy principles for good and faithful Christian ministry."

Philip Ryken, president of Wheaton College

"Pastor Lee provides us with encouragement by sharing his deep love for God, inspiration from God's Word, and a reminder of the simple but clear invitation Jesus offers us to follow him and love others. Just as Jesus has been a Good Shepherd to each of us, we are now called to bring this same love, joy, hope, justice, and restoration to a hurting world."

Gary A. Haugen, president and CEO of International Justice Mission

"This wonderful collection of thoughtful essays was a balm for my soul. Encouragement, exhortation, compassion, sacrifice, and humility resonate through the book. Building on international experience and biblical wisdom, Pastor Lee has offered a remarkable spiritual gift to the global church."

Scott Moreau, professor emeritus at Wheaton College

"Rev. Jae Hoon Lee is a good man. Many know him as pastor of the globally influential megachurch Onnuri. Many know him currently as well as co-chair of the Fourth Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization. I know him in both capacities and more. I've seen him endure through challenges. I've seen him bear the weight and joy of leadership. And through it all, I can say that he is a good man. A man who embodies what Billy Graham described as 'the spirit of Lausanne.' A man of humility, study, friendship, prayer, partnership, and hope. It's a true honor to be his partner in the gospel and his friend."

Michael Y. Oh, global executive director and CEO of the Lausanne Movement

"While many would consider the various ministries of Onnuri Church in South Korea as extraordinary, Senior Pastor Jae Hoon Lee is a humble yet gifted servant of God who exemplifies an ordinary ministry. That is, he endorses a Christian life and ministry that is based on and follows in the footsteps of Jesus. Allow the wisdom of this book, collected through many years of ministry and life experiences, to help shape you and your ambitions, as you move from great to good."

Julius J. Kim, visiting professor of practical theology at Westminster Seminary California and former president of The Gospel Coalition

"The Bible tells us that those who put their trust in Jesus Christ become a new creation! In his new book Great to Good, Pastor Jae Hoon Lee examines just how great the changes can be when Christ comes to live in our hearts."

Jim Cymbala, senior pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle

"Great to Good is a treasure trove of wisdom, insight, and encouragement for daily living. Pastor Jae Hoon Lee's collection of fifty vignettes draws on inspiring examples, well-known authors, and Lee's own years of pastoral experience in wooing readers toward humility, integrity, and service. While reflecting Pastor Lee's setting in South Korea, Great to Good is applicable to anyone due to Lee's international experience, broad spectrum of reading, and warm communication style. After reading this short book I feel all the more encouraged and inspired to pursue goodness—not self-promoting greatness—for the sake of Jesus Christ and for the good of others."

J. Nelson Jennings, editor of Global Missiology—English

"I heartily endorse this treasure trove of wisdom (James 3:13-18), recommending it to pastors, church leaders, missionaries, seminary instructors, and others with no formal religious leadership function who yearn for spiritual vitality. It is a cornucopia of insights, advice, counsel, and admonition deeply rooted in the Christian Scriptures and faith. It is gently but persistently countercultural, showing in numerous ways how believers can quietly but effectively resist the spirit of this age and pursue a path at odds with the empty ways handed down to us (1 Peter 1:18). It is a refreshing rebuttal to the relentless pursuit of 'greatness' so frequently associated with modern churches and Christian organizations obsessed with the spirit-of-the-age-false-gospel of more—more members, more money, more spectacle, more attention, more fame, more pride. It quietly but effectively demonstrates that for the follower of Jesus, not looking good but being good is our calling—not greatness but goodness! The fifty short, pithy chapters contain anecdotes and insights that will surprise, enlighten, provoke, instruct, challenge, encourage, and remain embedded in memory for further pondering and life application."

Jonathan Bonk, mission research professor at Boston University School of Theology and president emeritus of the Global Mission Leadership Forum

"This is a really good book! I would say 'great,' but as the title suggests, our calling is not for personal greatness but to imitate Jesus, the Good Shepherd who laid down his life in service and sacrifice. Great to Good is easy to read and would make an excellent daily devotional to read alongside the Bible. It contains a lifetime's wisdom, steeped in biblical reflection and applied to everyday life. Pastors and preachers will benefit from the rich store of stories and quotes, and all readers will be challenged to reshape their values, desires, and ambitions to be more like Jesus."

Dave Bookless, head of theology for A Rocha International and Lausanne global catalyst for creation care

"How is the outworking of embodied Christian discipleship made visible by our priorities, our sacrificial commitments, and our everyday interactions with others? This book focuses on how ordinary and extraordinary actions can lead people to glorify God rather than draw attention to ourselves. Be encouraged and challenged by these reflections from Scripture, history and modern society, and life testimonies of individuals and congregations."

Laura S. Meitzner Yoder, director and John Stott Chair of Human Needs and Global Resources and professor of environmental studies at Wheaton College

"In the midst of so many books about Christian leadership that stress the 'how to,' it is so refreshing to read Pastor Jae Hoon Lee's thoughtful reflections on the 'Who?' That is, the emphasis is on the character and life of a Christlike leader, not just a list of competencies and expertise. The chapters are short and pithy but full of substance and challenge. You will spend more time thinking about each one than reading it only. They constantly draw their values and inspiration from the Scriptures and especially the teaching and example of Jesus himself. Meditating on one chapter a day alongside one's Bible would be a very healthy discipline in the school of humility and servanthood."

Christopher J. H. Wright, international ministries director of the Langham Partnership and author of The Mission of God

Read an Excerpt



Part One: In Search of a Good Christian
1. Cultivate a Good Conscience
2. It's Morality, Stupid
3. Pain Is a Part of Joy
4. Torn from Evil and Set Apart for Good
5. A Christian Without Following Christ?
6. We Represent a God of Love
7. Justice Comes from Love
8. Strip Away Your Facades
9. True Blessings of Christ-Followers
10. Goodness Shines

Part Two: A Good Leader Builds Christ's Church
11. Be the Best Man, Not the Bridegroom
12. Signs of Judas's Betrayal
13. Fools for Christ
14. Why Is the Church Weak?
15. Happiness Comes When We Come Back
16. The Spirituality of Simplicity
17. Seek Wisdom
18. Rely on Teamwork
19. Not the Authority but a Steward
20. Your Best May Not Be God's Best

Part Three: Choose Truth, Even When It's Painful
21. Making the Right Decisions
22. The Right Mentality
23. Why Do Humans Want to Be Gods?
24. Truths Everyone Must Accept
25. Finding Your Place in Life During Disaster
26. The Key Is Always the Gospel
27. Truth Cannot Be Divided into Public and Private
28. Lives Are More Important Than Rights
29. Truth with a Gentle Embrace
30. True Authority Leads to True Freedom

Part Four: Deny Yourself and Take Up Your Cross
31. Have You Lost Your Humility?
32. Only Shepherds Answered the Call
33. The True Leader Steps Up in the Storm
34. Embracing Conflict
35. Look to the Self, Then the Situation
36. Real Change
37. Know Thyself
38. Faith or Stubbornness?
39. Time for Job's Repentance
40. God Loves Cities of Sinners

Part Five: Live Out Your Good Life
41. The Christian Life Is a Syntropy Drama
42. Your Mission Is to Go Beyond Your Backyard
43. Unlock the Future with Faith
44. A Calling Requires Courage
45. God Will Guide Us
46. Love Has Many Hues
47. A Bucket List Is a Calling List
48. When Duty Transforms into Joy
49. A Friend Who Will Never Leave
50. Not Success but Service!



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Jae Hoon Lee

Jae Hoon Lee (DMin, Gordon-Conwell) is the senior pastor at Onnuri Church and chair of The Gospel Coalition Korea and Handong Global University. He also serves as the cochair of the host committee for L4, the 2024 Lausanne Congress on World Evangelism in Seoul. He is the author of My Country to God's Country, Grace Wins!, Thinking of Thinking, Heaven Opens Up on the Earth, and Authentic Gospel. He promotes justice, restoration, and societal well-being, embodying the gospel’s transformative power in many ways in Korea. He lives in Seoul, Korea, with his wife and two children.