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Book Review: The Well-Played Life by Leonard Sweet

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The Well-Played Life

Why Pleasing God Doesn’t Have to Be Such Hard Work

Leonard Sweet (@lensweet)


278 pages

Available from Amazon in paperback or Kindle editions. Also available from in paperback or ePub (see bottom of page). I read the paperback edition.


The Well-Played Life rocked my world, not because it was a new “song” but because I finally found someone with the same “song” stuck in their head as mine. For years, I have been forming some ideas. Hints of the theme appear in every one of my books. But here was a book that laid out the entire song—a song giving us permission, no admonishing us, to dance with Jesus from now until heaven.

Leonard Sweet’s book establishes a “play ethic” for Christians, who have earned a reputation for being negative, critical, condemning, and worse. It’s time to lighten up, folks!

“If faith isn’t fun, we’re working for God rather than playing with God.” –Leonard Sweet, The Well-Played Life, page 42.

“Playing with God frees our faith to trust, to receive the gifts of life, and to advance joy for all people.” –Leonard Sweet, The Well-Played Life, page 43.

He doesn’t encourage us to set aside time to play, but to make a lifestyle of playing with God. Work is about tasks; play is about relationships. Play takes us back to who we really are. There is no plan to follow, we just open ourselves up to the spontaneous joy of whatever comes.

I don’t usually mark up a book (so I can pass it on) but I underlined something on nearly every page and made a few notes in the margins. This is one book I will not be passing on (so get your own copy!).

Sweet spends time explaining why playing is not just for children and he loads the text with fun references to children’s games that made me reminisce about my own childhood and he uses lots of examples from contemporary culture (Angry Birds, Dancing with the Stars). We became immediate kin when I noticed how often he uses wordplay in his text. Although his style of wordplay is different from mine, I appreciated it all the same (although in a couple places it obscured the meaning and caused me to re-read).

The author breaks the Christian life into three ages and describes how our playing with God will look in each of those phases of life. To me, this seemed like an unnecessary convention to superimpose over the theme. I found the ongoing talk about First Agers, Second Agers, and Third Agers to be distracting. I was engrossed in the idea of playing with God and I wanted to stay on that focus.

Still, The Well-Played Life is the best book I’ve read in a decade. This certainly won’t be the last you hear me speak of it. I’ll be sharing quotes and ideas from the book here and on Twitter. Oh, and you can follow Leonard Sweet on Twitter (@lensweet) or check out his website:

And here’s one last quote from the book.

“To Christians without a sense of humor, I am tempted to say (with John McEnroe): ‘You cannot be serious!’ And then I’d add, ‘And if you are serious, you can’t be taken seriously.’ To pull off serious, we need to play—the playful power of not taking ourselves too seriously.”—Leonard Sweet, The Well-Played Life, page 209.

Well played, Leonard Sweet. Well played.


I give Leonard Sweet’s The Well-Played Life five cups of love.

Cups of LoveCups of LoveCups of LoveCups of LoveCups of Love


Order from the link below and you'll help me earn a few cents. I like the jingle of coins in my cup.

373621: The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn"t Have to Be Such Hard Work The Well-Played Life: Why Pleasing God Doesn’t Have to Be Such Hard Work

By Leonard Sweet / Tyndale House

Are you clutching life’s wheel too hard? Are you so busy sitting in the driver’s seat that you fail to recognize the Well-Played Life God wants to share with you? Leonard Sweet helps you unclench your teeth, loosen your grip, and embark on an adventure filled with the fruitfulness and creativity of living in God’s pleasure! 240 pages, softcover, Tyndale.



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