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Professor Jon Johnston's Latest Book Makes the Case for Anonymous Giving
Jon Johnston, professor of sociology, pronounces the spiritual and philanthropic benefits of helping those in need in his latest book Signed, Anonymous: Shedding the Need for Acknowledgment (Beacon Hill Press, 2009). The work explores the purpose and impact of anonymous giving and service as a guide to shining "from the shadows."
"For the receiver, it's just great being the recipient of a gift and knowing the person didn't give it to get any kind of credit of payback," explains Johnston. "It restores a bit of confidence in humans, or Christians. And it makes you want to do the same thing."
Johnston found his inspiration from the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus Christ implored his listeners to give and serve others for the glory of God. A thousand years after Christ, Saint Francis of Assisi famously added, "Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words."
"The book 'cuts across the grain' of our culture, where most people do things to get credit, advantage, or notoriety," Johnston says. "I became quite fed up with so many show-offs and grandstanders both outside and, unfortunately, inside the church. I looked for a book or article on this topic and found none."
The message of the book is not, however, that recognition for good works is inherently bad. "Of course we can share openly, and are told to," Johnston confirms. "But not for our glory. That is the key."
Johnston is the author of six books, including Christian Excellence: Alternative to Success, and Stuck in a Sticky World: Learning to See God's Best in Life's Worse. He is an ordained minister, a licensed family therapist, chairperson of the Association of Nazarene Sociologists and Researchers (ANSR), and among his many career honors, the long-time Pepperdine professor was voted "Most Outstanding Professor" by his students in 1980.
He plans to follow up Signed, Anonymous with books exploring true forgiveness—and resisting the temptation to retaliate in kind, and how to replace independence with what Johnston calls God-dependence. The chosen themes continue his exploration of the commands he believes are the hardest to follow from the Sermon on the Mount. "My favorite thing about working on this book was that I was able to write about something that Christ laid on my heart. The examples shared with me, by others, truly warmed my heart and inspired my soul," says Johnston.