This reading group guide forDeeper, Richer, Fullerincludes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Tom Paterson. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
Tom Paterson is a renowned business strategist and management consultant who has assisted many businessmen in answering questions of perspective, priorities and purpose in their lives. His reach does not stop in the corporate world, however; Tom has also worked with church leaders to help them discover the course that their lives are meant to take.
Through this, Tom has developed his LifePlan process. In Deeper, Richer, Fuller, Tom takes us through the steps of his process and wills us to enter into a deep and meaningful friendship with God. Deeper, Richer, Fuller is meant to open our souls and transform our lives by pointing readers toward the ultimate goal of life in Christ: joyful and fulfilling service that radiates God’s love to others.
Tom provides us with stories, exercises and examples of how to strengthen our friendship with God. It is through this that we can begin to lead deeper, richer and fuller lives.
1. What kind of Christian does Tom Paterson admit he was for nearly twenty years? What event caused him to “wake up” to the fact that he was “asleep”? What was the outcome of the event and why do you think it served to strengthen his faith?
2. Entering into a friendship with God is one of the end goals of Deeper, Richer, Fuller. What does a divine friendship with Him entail, exactly? Is it forced? Do you agree with Paterson’s notion that “friendship is rooted in religion”?
3. Paterson remarks that we are “creatures bound in time and we develop over time.” What is it about being bound in time that can make it difficult for us to develop our friendship with God?
4. How does Paterson think most people view the spiritual world? How does he think we SHOULD view it? How did Jesus think we should view it? Which viewpoint do you agree with and why?
5. Throughout Deeper, Richer, Fuller, Patersonpoints out the importance of perspective and how it relates to our growing relationship with God. How do we go about making our perspective clear? Where does the concept of H.O.W. fit into this?
6. Talk about LifeGates. Where do they fall on the pathway of our lives? Why does Patersonthink we need to be concerned with them? How do they work to improve our relationship with God?
7. Paterson outlines the seven stages of transcendence and describes the effects of each stage. Do you agree with his summations? Why or why not? Do you think there should be more steps? Less?
8. What is an Everyday Saint? What are the three steps to becoming an Everyday Saint? How did Paterson initially learn these steps?
9. Discuss the concept of salvation and it’s importance in Deeper, Richer, Fuller. What are the ways in which we can be saved from sin? What is the importance of salvation?
10. Talk about the three abilities that the Holy Spirit imparts upon us. What is the importance of each? How must we utilize them as we journey through the LifeGates?
11. Do you agree that in order to get the most out of our spiritual lives we must surrender ourselves to God? Is it possible to incorporate the lessons learned in this book and live a faithful life and not surrender?
Enhancing Your Book Club
1. The author recounts several stories of “alarm moments” – where he heard, saw or felt God reach out to him to give advice and inspiration. Has this ever happened to you? Share such a moment with your bookclub!
2. Give an honest evaluation of yourself and find out which stage of transcendence you are at. Are you sleeping? Awaking? Seeking? If you’d like, share your results with your bookclub!
3. Have a favorite passage from the Bible? Share its meaning and importance to you with your bookclub.
A Conversation with Tom Paterson
1. What was the inspiration for putting all your thoughts on paper? Why do you think a book like Deeper, Richer, Fuller is needed now more than ever?
In my first book....Living The Life You Were Meant To Live....I had two chapters on surrender. My editor said I was overpowering my book with surrender and asked that I take one chapter out and save it for the next book. I did that and put it in this book without change. Surrender is the great near void in the Christian Church. Have you ever even heard a pastor give a sermon on the subject? Fulton Sheen went so far as to say that Christianity does not become so, until one enters the mystical stage through surrender. Surrender is the path to a life as an Everyday Saint. Europe has now gone secular and we are moving in that direction.
2. The concept of the eight stages of transcendence is a cornerstone of Deeper, Richer, Fuller. Is it ever possible to get “stuck” in one stage? How can people take the next faith filled step to the next stage?
One can get stuck in a stage. Most Christians are. One can retrogress. With so many many million people losing their homes due to unemployment there has been a sliding backward to insecurity. When you place yourself in God's hands taking the next step is easy. Repeatedly in the Bible our Lord tells us to "only belief".He wants a total belief...he wants all of us, our heart, our mind, our soul...ALL. ALL is ALL.
3. You openly admit that the loss of three of your four children was a heartbreaking experience, yet it served to strengthen your relationship with God. What advice would you give to a parent who has just lost a child? How can they continue to work to strengthen their friendship with God despite such a tragedy?
Over 80% of marriages fail in the loss of a child. The grief is mirrored in your partner's eyes. Unless we have surrendered, the agony is just too much and the marriage fails. My wife and I pulled together. Our love for each other was ever more intense throughout our marriage. We lost two of our four children when Ginny was alive.Our son, Jim, was killed after Ginny died. I am glad she didn't have to live through that. They are all together now in heaven and because there is no time in heaven, we will be together again in a moment from their perspective.
4. Many people only hear the “good news” when they are seeking forgiveness. Is it possible to hear the good news in a time of happiness? If we have happiness, have we already heard the good news?
There is a strong tendancy to turn to God when we are in trouble and to forget Him when happy.When we have yielded to our Lord completely, we are bathed in His light...we see the world as for the first time...in technicolor. I start every day thanking him for the wonderful world I live in. The surrendered Christian lives in two worlds at once. They live the Good News.
5. Why do you think people resist becoming Everyday Saints? What holds them back? What would you say to someone struggling with the notion of becoming an Everyday Saint?
We resist becoming Everyday Saints because we see it as having to give up the little avarices we are enjoying. ...Deprivation. Constantine's Mother prayed for her son for over twenty years. He kept telling her "I want to be good but later. I am having too good a time". She asked God if she could stop praying for her son. God told her to continue praying for him. This is the person who became St. Constantine, one of the greatest Christians the world has ever produced. Our finite minds cannot understand the infinite. I don't waste a second trying to understand why it took more than twenty years to give the world Constantine.
6. You intersperse your advice with various opportunities for people to chart their progress as they move into a closer relationship with God. Why is it so important that we chart our progress? What happens if we are not seeing a change even after our conversion to Christ?
When we chart our progress it encourages us. As humans we want to know where we are at....when I went into the Marine Corps in 1942, I heard this totally ungrammatical question over and over...Where are you at?
7. Deeper, Richer, Fuller combines the elements of an advice book with a daily workbook. Was there ever any inclination to lean more in one direction than the other?
Yes, there is a tendancy for our day and it's pressures to crowd time with God out.. I have done more LifePlans with pastors than anyone else in the world at this point. We start the day with a devotion. Pastors who are at my home always join in gladly. Not one has said they have a devotion at home. They tell me that they do not do so.
8. Surrender is a large part of a successful conversion. And yet, you emphasize the importance of passion for our talents and how we need to better ourselves. How can someone be sure they are not leaning too much in one direction? Can we surrender “too much” or be “overly” passionate?
We can avoid leaning in one direction too much by assessing how we are investing our time. I think of time in terms of an investment....I don't "spend " time. I am working on the amount of time I invest in meditation. It is too little. I underinvest at this time in it.
9. Is it possible for this book to function as advice on how to become a better person? That is, can someone utilize this book to inspire better relationships with their friends, their family and themselves (if not God?)
This book will result in better relationships with everyone if the path to transcendence is lived out. In fact, the original name I had for this book was "Becoming Best Friends With God." I have a covenant with God that every word I speak to another person will be a blessing, never a curse.I will not tell a joke that is at someone's expense...as most "Jewish" jokes are. In our east "Arkansas" jokes are common. I will not let a grandchild tell one. I politely tell them not to tell such jokes and I tell them why.Such stories are curses.
10. What’s next for you?
I have a 40 page outline of a book I call "Parenting In Christ…helping your children to live the life they were meant to live." God didn't want that book to be next. He wanted Deeper, Richer, Fuller. I could not write another word after I finished the outline. When I got back to His work, the words just flowed. I think it is time for the Parenting book, but I have not been nudged to do it at this point. God sets my agenda.