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How to be (Un)Successful

An unlikely guide to human flourishing

by Pete Portal

Average rating of5.0from (1)reviews

Discover true success through Jesus, breaking free from consumer culture's grip and moving into a place of true human flourishing.

  • A National Big Church Read Book

  • Pete Portal helps you swap success for satisfaction

  • You'll find a way of living that champions flourishing by God's standards, not man's

  • Author

    Pete Portal

  • Book Format


  • Publisher

    SPCK Publishing

  • Published

    October 2023

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How to be (Un)Successful

Today's Price £10.49

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Product Description

Nowadays it seems like everyone wants to be successful, but how many of us actually feel it?

We may know that true success is found in following the one who made us. And yet, in our increasingly polarised and comparison-rife world, many of us find our hearts yearning for an ever-elusive 'success': in money and power, in influence and accolades.

It is time for us to remember that success is attainable - not in what we have but how we live.

This book invites you to recognise the beauty and complexity of the world we live in and how we, individually and collectively, may have conformed our faith in Jesus to simple consumer culture and cultural preferences. It is an opportunity to redefine success, choosing love over efficiency, depth over volume and real friendship over cold transactions.

Jesus' life and teaching are the perfect antidote for a world growing sick with the wrong sort of success. And, he invites us again to experience a success that truly satisfies our souls.

'In this provocative book, Pete casts a vision. His vision is of a world where what we profess to believe and the lives we actually live are brought together in congruence. Addressing the worlds of faith and culture with astute analysis and prophetic incisiveness, Pete offers a timely and hope-filled clarion call for today’s generation to reconsider how to live lives of true influence.'

- Ken Costa, chairman, Leadership College, London

'Pete Portal offers a refreshing critique of contemporary notions of success, inviting readers into an (un)success "in the world" that is only possible when we embrace as success "not of this world". He offers a rich alternative vision of Jesus-inspired success, born of years of painful struggle living out the gospel in the heart of the impoverished South African township of Manenberg. Pete's vision is born out of his location in a setting of poverty, rampant addiction and gang violence, where dimensions of Christian faith cannot remain separated: contemplation inspires action, Holy Spirit revivalism engenders social justice activism, and power joins compassion. This book feeds a growing hunger like few others, threatening to incite a renewal movement deep enough to warm up hearts growing cold, and positively contagious enough to reach and recruit many to join Jesus and choose the kingdom of God as the best alternative now.'

- Bob Ekblad, co-founder and director of Tierra Nueva and The People's Seminary, and author of Reading the Bible with the Damned

'Whenever I look at the actual state of things (the world, the Church, the guy in the mirror), I'm reminded of how desperately I need people such as Pete Portal who can speak from personal experience with prophetic clarity about a better way to live, pray and define success. How to Be (Un)Successful is an invitation to follow the call of Christ by pursuing depth over breadth, building real relationships, and engaging faithfully with the culture around me... It's as challenging as its title implies (thank God for that), but it's also inspiring, beguiling and brimming with hope.'

- Pete Greig, 24-7 Prayer International and Emmaus Rd, England

'Pete's own lived faith authenticates and validates the challenging message he brings in this book. His writing stirs, encourages and inspires us in equal measure on our journey with Jesus, and enables us to use different metrics in working out what constitutes a life well lived.'

- Simon Guillebaud, author and founder of Great Lakes Outreach Burundi

'When the Church loses confidence in its mission, story and central convictions, secular narratives begin to masquerade as kingdom narratives. These are then embraced by the Church, which then inevitably begins to lose it spiritual vibrancy and potency. We desperately need a wake-up call, which is why I love listening to Pete Portal preach and why I love his new book How to Be (Un)successful. Pete has been raised up as a prophet for such a time as this. He offers a diagnosis for the cultural moment we find ourselves in, invites us on a journey of detoxing from the ways of the world that have damaged our souls, and leads us back to the person, example and ministry of Jesus, where a whole new vision for life is presented. This is the kind of book you want to place in the hand of every follower of Jesus disillusioned by the world, or even the Church, but desperate to rediscover the upside-down way of the kingdom.'

- Pete Hughes, Lead Pastor, KXC, London, and author of All Things New: Joining God's story of re-creation

'Great leaders ask great questions. This book raises excellent questions, bringing significant insights and fuel for all disciples seeking to live a kingdom life in the culture and world we inhabit. Much like Pete, this book is reflective, punchy, prophetic and engaging.'

- Tim Hughes, Senior Pastor, Gas Street Church

'In this book, you will find yourself rethinking how you have lived your life and asking bigger questions about how to be human in this world. Pete takes you on a necessary journey of reflecting on the life of Jesus and the vast difference between it and how we live our lives now. This book is an invitation to move closer and closer to being someone you were designed to be. Let us say yes to this invitation!'

- Eric Johnson, co-founder and Lead Pastor of Studio Greenville

'Actions speak louder than words. Or, as Jesus taught us, "By their fruits ye shall know them" (Matthew 7.20 kjv). Pete Portal is a man who follows the Lord, and his fruits are bountiful. And by those fruits his words have earned our attention.'

- Winston Marshall, musician and contributor to The Spectator

'Pete's is a voice I trust. He hasn't just developed deep and beautiful theology - he lives a life that keeps his heart breaking open. He is a witness to the glory of God, moving through grit, grime and grace. An earthy, downward trajectory that leads to the kingdom of God. This book is going to help you to find your way there.'

- Danielle Strickland, author, speaker and activist

Pete Portal helps lead Tree of Life, a church in Manenberg running ministries among the vulnerable and marginalised, and dedicated to living out Jesus’ love as spiritual community. He is also on the board of 24-7 Prayer South Africa, and spends much of his time growing relationships and networks across racial and socio-economic divides.

Pete and his wife Sarah live with young men coming out of gangsterism and drug addiction and, along with a team of friends, disciple and re-parent these young men into faith, freedom and wholeness. He holds Masters degrees in Theology (Edinburgh) and Theology, Politics and Faith-based Organisations (Kings College London); he has written articles for The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Times, and appeared on ITV’s ‘On Assignment’ and SABC’s ‘Expresso’. In his spare time he enjoys carpentry and he plays football, with increasing slowness, for FC Manenberg.


  • Author

    Pete Portal

  • Book Format


  • Publisher

    SPCK Publishing

  • Published

    October 2023

  • Weight


  • Page Count


  • Dimensions

    198 x 202 x 19 mm

  • ISBN


  • ISBN-10


  • Eden Code


More Information

  • Author/Creator: Pete Portal

  • ISBN: 9780281088171

  • Publisher: SPCK Publishing

  • Release Date: October 2023

  • Weight: 174g

  • Dimensions: 198 x 202 x 19 mm

  • Eden Code: 6169777


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