Book Review: Imperative People (Author: Dr. Les Carter)

Osama bin Laden interviewed

Osama bin Laden interviewed for Daily Pakistan in 1997; behind him on the wall is an AK-47 carbine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


In my life I have struggled in relationships with imperative people and I have seen that I myself can be an imperative person. What is an imperative person? Someone who requires control over his or her “world” and in the process impinges on the freedom of others.

This struggle has become especially difficult in my life when I have gone through periods of deep depression or struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). In both cases the desire for “control” over my “world” grows exponentially and the smallest actions by others can feel like seismic disasters. What they are doing hurts me so much (not b/c it is so evil, but b/c of my own woundedness) that I just want to unleash my fury upon them for their apparent stupidity and inconsiderate attitudes.

I had acquired a large number of books in recent months and one of them was Dr. Les Carter’s Imperative People: Those Who Must Be in Control. Over the past two or three months I have read this small, hardcover volume clocking in at 220 pages. Carter isn’t the world’s most magnificent writer and I am not particularly impressed by the style in which he chose to write this little volume – but I found it to be deeply challenging in an almost surgical manner.

Throughout the book Dr. Carter spends significant time emphasizing each point. I usually like folks to say what they mean as directly and succinctly as possible and so this drove me a bit batty – but I see Carter’s reasoning behind this style and believe it was actually the best method possible. Carter recognizes that we require repetition of these basic concepts if we are to activate them within our lives – that a single pass method will not work – and so throughout the book he purposely regurgitates similar points with similar stories and wording in order to assist in the process of appropriation.

I can’t say that I agree with everything Dr. Carter says in the book, but I think it is a great read for anyone who has relational difficulties…especially if we perceive those difficulties as “the other person’s problem” and for anyone who is in a leadership position (or aspires to be).

I am not a fan of proof-texting, as I think this is oftentimes an abuse of Scripture which seeks to “prove” a point by using select Scriptures while ignoring the larger context and unity of the text. That said, the greatest weakness in Dr. Carter’s book is that it does not provide a detailed Scriptural argument for his positions. While I believe that they are based on Scriptural principles, I think some who read it (especially the imperative) will tend to write it off due to its lack of Scriptural references. For those to whom this is a temptation I would suggest that a work is not proved invalid simply b/c it lacks explicit Scriptural support and that the reader should in cases such as this do their own research concerning the relationship of the biblical text to the author’s hypothesis.

Go grab a copy off Amazon – they are available for a few bucks – and let me know what you think. Also, let me know if you are aware of any other volumes that speak on this topic!

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