Paul Tripp is one of the most consistently edifying authors around. This book was no exception. Any pastor or individual who wishes to be used by Christ to counsel those around them must read this book. As usual, Tripp is clear. His books are always well outlined, almost to a fault. There are numerous lists, which are marked out by italics or bold so you can keep going back to them. There were also several diagrams to help with understanding. Several themes in the book stuck with me:
First, all counseling must be done in relationship. We cannot counsel people we do not know. In both formal and informal counseling there must be some level of relationship.
Second, people are spiritually blind. The job of a counselor is to get someone to see where they are blind. His job is not to tell them where they are blind, but to get them on their own to see it. This usually involves asking questions, telling stories, having the person journal, etc. Tripp mentions that we are often blind to ourselves, God’s character and work, and our situation.
Third, motivations matter. What we want and desire is the single most important factor in our lives. Part of counseling is to redirect our desires away from being selfish towards pleasing God.
Fourth, we are all interpreters. We interpret every situation we are in, usually so it favors us.
Fifth, we all love to shift blame from ourselves to our situations and other people. Someone who shifts blame will never change.
Sixth, heart change is always the aim. Tripp emphasizes this throughout the book. Heart change begins with seeing God rightly and ourselves rightly through the lens of God’s Word. And heart change leads to behavioral change.
Finally, all of us are to be in relationships where we are being counseled and where we are counseling others. It is the obligation of each Christian to do this.
The book is filled with practical nuggets on how to help people change and how to change yourself. The appendices were helpful on how to gather data. I also enjoyed his exposition of Leviticus 19:15-18.
The one drawback to the book is its length. It is too long to give to most Christian, but the information would certainly help every Christian whether they are in ministry or not. Tripp also can be a bit sentimental at times, not always giving examples of situations that blow up in our faces. But despite these drawbacks, he is still a great resource for anyone who wants to know how to counsel their fellow brother or sister in Christ.