Often in our lives we are confronted with the challenge of speaking the truth in love to someone. If we err on the side of truth, our words will be perceived as harsh and unloving—and yet, if we don’t tell them the unadjusted truth then we must not really love them.
A book that has proven to be of great help in those watershed moments is David Powlison’s Speaking Truth in Love: Counsel in Community. It is written for the church-at-large, and seeks to equip believers with a guide for communication and healing to those we speak with.
In order for our churches to become “communities of wise love” (100), they will need to be comprised of individuals who use the Word of God to encourage and equip one another. In doing so they will build great and godly relationships together—”sustaining sufferers and transforming sinners” (110).
This book reads more like seventeen short essays, instead of chapters, which makes for an easy “chapter-a-day” read. If you are interested, here’s a free PDF preview of the first 30-pages.
Dr. Powlison is the executive director of the Christian Counseling & Education Foundation (CCEF). He had worked for four years in psychiatric hospitals, during which time he came to faith in Christ; and now has over thirty years of counseling experience.
Full disclosure: this book was a Shepherds’ Conference gift (free is good!), and it is a required-read for the first stage of my ACBC biblical counseling certification. ACBC wisely put this on their list; and I have grown as a direct result of reading it. Much of what I found helpful was the way in which Powlison described the counselor’s aim. Early in the book he writes:
A human-with-Savior interaction must come first. When I as a counselor don’t get that straight, I inevitably offer others some sort of saviorette. If my counseling does not help others rely upon Another (upon whom I also rely), I will inevitably teach them to rely on themselves – or on me, or other friends, or medications, or techniques, or pablum “truths” (that are in fact empty or even fictional). (7)
Powlison also addresses some of today’s troubling topics such as how to help a “psychologized” counselee, when to refer someone, and the role of women in counseling. Throughout the book he models “truth in love,” sharing from his own experiences all the while holding fast the faithful Word.