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Souls of Steel:
How to Build Character in Ourselves and Our Kids

by Pat Williams with Jim Denney

      Author Pat Williams is the Senior VP of the Orlando Magic basketball organization, and a motivational and inspirational speaker. Perhaps more importantly he’s a father of nineteen children (five biological, fourteen adopted). His most recent book, written in collaboration with Jim Denney, is Souls of Steel: How to Build Character in Ourselves and Our Kids, which is couched in Christian philosophy. 

The book is divided into six main sections, with chapters focusing on particular aspects of character. One bit of insight Williams shared that I appreciated was a quote attributed to his father: "Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation. Your character is what you really are. Your reputation is merely how you are perceived by others." The book discusses the character traits of integrity, diligence, self-control, courage, perseverance, humility, love, responsibility, and faith, which he calls the "engine of character." At the end of every "character chapter" is a list of how-to suggestions for parents to implement the particular character trait under discussion. 

Although well thought out, the book disappointed in a couple of ways. First, the excessive number of anecdotes proved tedious and distracting. Anecdotes should be a spice, a condiment, an accompaniment to the book to highlight a teaching point. But, the beneficial points of Williams’ book are obscured rather than highlighted by the overabundance. Second, this is a "Christian" book, is it not? Yet, Williams sometimes counsels contrary to Bible teaching. For instance, Williams encourages military service for our children; but, the Bible says differently. See Matt 26:52, Matt 5:9, Lu 10:25-27, and Acts 5:29. You won’t find a single example in the Bible of a soldier who upon becoming a Christian continued serving as one. Secular sources confirm it as well. Thus, parents need to read with discretion. Still, in many instances, Williams makes good and appropriate scriptural suggestions beneficial for character building. 

Souls of Steel: How to Build Character in Ourselves and Our Kids has many good ideas for parents of toddlers to teens. Williams’ book encourages parents to be the kind of persons they want their children to become. For some parents, this may be a good place to start.

The Book

FaithWords / Hachette Book Group USA
Feb 14, 2008
0-446-57973-4 / 978-0-446-57973-5
Inspirational / Christian Life / Self Help
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The Reviewer

Deb Kincaid
Reviewed 2008
© 2008