Book Review: Enough

Enough Book Cover

How much is enough? Adam Hamilton explores this topic in his book Enough, reviewed by David Barnum, Chair of the Diocese of Edmonton Stewardship Committee.


“Lord, help me be grateful for what I have, remember that I don’t need most of what I want, and that joy is found in simplicity and generosity.”

This winter can be a good time to reflect on the question of what is, for us, enough. Many days when the weather is overcast and the temperature is minus 30°C, we believe our lives to be difficult, particularly when the car doesn’t start. Then, we recall the devastation and lives displaced by Hurricane Sandy, or we view one more television news story about the war in Syria. We then wonder how much we are part of this discord, and ask ourselves a key question: how much is enough? Do we really know, or sometimes even care?

When we think of “enough”, most times we think about money. Adam Hamilton, a Methodist minister from Kansas, preached a number of sermons in response to the 2008 economic collapse of the US. His community and congregation faced great challenges. Many lost jobs, homes and hope. Hamilton’s book, Enough, was based on those sermons. The book provides good insights and language to steer us through a crisis, when we believe we don’t have enough, or when we don’t know how to distinguish between having enough and having too much.

What would you do as a parish if factories within your city shut down and the hope of a better tomorrow was lost? We, Albertans, know something about shutdowns, lost jobs and displacement; but, maybe we’ve forgotten the lessons. Thinking about what we’ve been given; about how we use the resources given to us, and about how much is enough is a profound stewardship issue.

Hamilton’s book, Enough, invites readers to rediscover the truths previous generations knew—that wisdom from the scriptures has much to guide, encourage and inspire. He further suggests that when we rediscover these truths, we will find joy and contentment. Our lives can be more simple; more generous and meaningful. He does not suggest that we live in poverty, but he does clearly state that when we make the love of acquisition of wealth and material possessions our main goals, we lose sight of God. We forget the warning of Jesus that we cannot serve both God and wealth. This book gives us one more chance to understand Luke’s verse, “One’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.”

What about those who really don’t have enough? How do they handle the struggle from one pay-cheque to the next? Many lack full-time work and benefits. Many, as a recent Maclean’s article pointed out, are new university graduates. A website created by Urban Durham Ministries from North Carolina is worth visiting because it provides an insightful way of understanding financial hardship.

The book’s main focus is to help the reader better understand how the Bible provides broad guidance in deciding how much is enough. Hamilton’s writing is clear and organized with carefully chosen illustrations and scriptural references. He asks questions that force us to read passages that challenge and inspire. Many congregations in America have used the book to broaden and deepen their community’s stewardship programs and actions. (Sales of the book are over 120,000.) However, the main benefit of Enough for you and me is the push to reexamine our own relationship between ourselves and our creator, which may help us become joyful and content human beings.