Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

More of Jesus, Less of Me

Written by: on January 13, 2022

Daniel Lieberman and Michael Long, the authors of the book The Molecule of More, explain and explore dopamine’s role in human behavior. This book can be categorized under social science to analyze the essential functions of dopamine (the molecule of more) in current human behavior and society. The study of dopamine and serotonin has been around for a couple of decades now. Still, this book offers fresh insights into how dopamine functions in issues connected to love, drugs, domination, creativity and madness, politics, and progress in today’s world. The author mentions that “understanding dopamine turns out to be the key to explaining and even predicting behavior across a spectacular range of human endeavors: creating art, literature, and music; seeking success; discovering new worlds and new laws of nature; thinking about God-and falling in love.”[1]

This book took me back to many flashbacks I encountered in college as I read through this book. The first two years of college were a tsunami of dopamine release for me. The college years brought a wide-open gate into newfound freedom completely away from parents and church. I felt like one of those video game characters trying to open pandora’s treasure box that opened up something new every time I found it and opened it. It was indeed a “dopamine dream come true”[2] I had to keep pursuing more. And at the end of the two years of a dopamine rush, it ran out, and I was left with a broken and addicted brain, soul, and body. As I had the opportunity to travel to different places in the world for mission opportunities, I have also seen that in developed countries, “dopamine-driven technological advances make it even easier for us to gratify our needs and desires.”[3] I see and experience these days that the need to do nothing and experience everything at the convenience of our fingertips, and VR is skyrocketing. At the advancement cost of capitalism and consumerism, everyone is now experiencing an empty and tired body and soul from lack of dopamine.

The authors vaguely end the book by telling the readers that “the only thing that will save us is the ability to achieve a better balance, to overcome our obsession with more, appreciate the unlimited complexity of reality, and learn to enjoy the things we have.”[4] I would argue back that when people are trapped in a state of addiction and burnt out dopamine, they won’t have the ability to save themselves and enjoy their things. At least, in my personal experience with God, it was God who gave me the opened eyes to see the darkness, it was God who gave me the transformation to crave God and not idols, it was God who gave me the strength to love and enjoy the things we have.

[1] Daniel Z. Lieberman, and Michael E. Long. The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, and Creativity–and Will Determine the Fate of the Human Race. Reprint edition. (BenBella Books, 2019), 3.

[2] Lieberman and Long, The Molecule of More, 54.

[3] Lieberman and Long, The Molecule of More, 204.

[4] Lieberman and Long, The Molecule of More, 208.

About the Author


Jonathan Lee

President of Streamside Ministry Lead Pastor of EM @ San Jose Korean Presbyterian Church in Sunnyvale, CA

6 responses to “More of Jesus, Less of Me”

  1. mm Roy Gruber says:

    Jonathan, thanks for sharing your personal journey with struggle and God’s restoration. You write about God transformed your life from brokenness and addiction. Are there specific actions you took that facilitated God’s work in you? Also, having experienced the negative aspects of dopamine and its resulting emptiness, do you think there is a way for “dopamine driven technologies” can be kept to levels where it does not produce the detrimental impacts you experienced?

  2. mm Troy Rappold says:

    Jonathan: Your essay was very insightfully written. I enjoyed your description of your college years and the personal experience of burn out. I agree the author’s vague ending could have been stronger. We both are reading this book through the lens of Christian faith and that makes a big difference. My thoughts run to the influence simple belief in the truth of the gospel and how that can influence dopamine or the H&N chemicals in our bodies. Where do you think faith effects our chemistry? It would be an interested research project.

  3. mm Eric Basye says:

    Thanks for your post! Working among and with addicted people, I too better see that drive and “get it” as to why the lure for the next high drives people to give up everything. Pretty scary for sure. But like you said, it is good to know that there is a pathway forward and out.

    I wonder, have you considered if there are any benefits of dopamine in your life or those around you?

  4. Kayli Hillebrand says:

    Jonathan: I’m very interested to know in light of this text, if you plan on incorporating any of the concepts or content into your NPO prototype? I think specifically of youth and how influential an honest conversation about the chemicals in our brain and their relationship to discipleship could be.

  5. mm Nicole Richardson says:

    Jonathan thank your for your personal transparency/vulnerability.
    How might one encourage others to strengthen the dopamine control circuit in order to better practice self-differentiation? As a leader is it helpful to understand brain chemistry in order to offer better pastoral care?

  6. mm Denise Johnson says:

    Jonathan, I can appreciate the drive for more information and the possibility of being addicted to the thrill. It is like the movie Short Circuit. I agree with you that the authors’ insights into the chemicals in the brain are limited in explaining the complexity of human behavior. In Christ the impossible, or difficult are possible. I think that when I allow the Word of God to work into my thinking and I begin to apply it, only then can I be transformed into a more harmonious balance.

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