Phil Callaway – To Be Perfectly Honest

Phil Callaway is a veteran author of more than 20 books and public speaker. To be honest: I didn’t know him or his books before this one. As Christian and humorist, taking up a one-year vow to live in perfect honesty was certainly no joke, though Callaway seemed to have suffered that much. To Be Perfectly Honest takes you through his diary. Successes, recovered friendships, paid dues, but also a lot of failures. Yes, jokes are all around when Callaway listens to the songs that he and his fellow church members sing in Sunday services. Are you honest when singing about surrender, lifting up hands, shouting, dancing, leave everything to God’s will?

Less fortunate is Callaway’s financial investment strategy. Somehow it landed in this book as part of the year behind him, but I wouldn’t miss it, when it wasn’t described. The loss of his mom is tragic, but has little to do with his experiment. Near-successes are his answers to numerous intrusive questions from friends and strangers, once they discovered that Phil planned to be honest about everything. Funny are his e-mail conversations with an atheist and cheaters, his encounters with Mormon evangelists and enemies that were to be forgiven. And as a real Pac-Man addict, Bible and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis have to wait.

And yes, grace is abundant. Without grace it wouldn’t be possible to live on. Phil Callaway is clear about it and never poses his quest to honesty as an obligation to others. But don’t be surprised to frequently ask yourself what would happen if you’re honest about what you see, think, observe, watch at or do in your daily life. After his experiment Callaway notes that he deserves a vacation (from honesty?): “By all counts, I deserve it. While unforgettable, the year has also been exhausting.”

Callaway’s lessons learned are:

  • I’m more honest in prayer. This thing about trying to impress God was laughable.
  • How far short I land trying to rig things on my own.
  •  I’m much more aware of my flaws and weaknesses.
Not all of his diary notes are that interesting. Maybe you, and a small group are better off trying yourself. To Be Perfectly Honest has a multi sessions discussion guide about each chapter as well.
Disclosure – I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.