The Goal of the Christian Life {Book Club}

How are we at the end of another great book?! Yet, here we are. I appreciate our time in the comments where people have shared that this is harder book to discuss because of how deeply it touches. This is also what I love about book clubs, not all books are the same. Some will be easy to read, but not worth discussing. Some will be beneficial to read, and touch on such deep, mysterious, and compelling topics it’s hard to discuss. Others will also be beneficial and easier to talk about. I don’t want us just to read the “easy to talk about” books. Hopefully all the books we read will be beneficial (!). I’ve enjoyed our time! Thank you.

Chapters 9 and 10 in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero were a fitting call to us, the readers as we come to the end. “Grow into an emotionally mature adult” and “Go the next step and develop a rule of life.”

“Loving well is the goal of the Christian life. This is easier in our dreams than in practice. It requires that we grow into emotionally adulthood in Christ, the rewards of which are rich beyond measure.”

I imagine you’re the same, I am so kind and patient when I am alone, picturing the kind of person I am and want to be . . . and then I interact with an actual person and at times am NOTHING like the kind, dreamy version of myself. Turns out I can be testy, sarcastic, shut-down, snappy (and not in the clever way), and a bit too annoyed with those I love.

But there is hope for me! And hope for you, too. What did you think of his summaries of emotional infants, children, adolescents, and adults? As I read this, I was thinking myself—good place to start—and teammates I’ve had. But then I wondered, what does this mean for us as we work with people who have come to faith? How can we help them to develop into emotionally mature believers? I’d love to know your thoughts on this.

I loved—and by this, I mean the theory of it I loved, I still am not where I’d like to be—the spiritual discipline of practicing the presence of people. “Jesus refused to separate the practice of the presence of God from the practice of the presence of people. When pushed to the wall to separate this unbreakable union, Jesus refused.”

I’ve heard of I-It and I-Thou relationships before, and this was a helpful summary: “The result of I-It relationships is that I get frustrated when people don’t fit into my plans. The way I see things is ‘right.’ And if you don’t see it as I do, you are not seeing things the ‘right’ way. You are wrong.” And how I-Thou relationships allow for a sacred space between us.

I found what he said about conflict and agree with his conclusion that many have wrong beliefs about peace making and may have a lack of training and skills. What stood out to you in the conflict section when it comes to life and service cross-culturally?

In the final chapter, Scazzero shared about developing a “Rule of Life” so that what we’ve read can move off the page and live in our real, messy lives. Looking at the elements in a Rule of Life:

  • Scripture
  • Silence and Solitude
  • Daily Office
  • Study
  • Sabbath
  • Simplicity
  • Play and Recreation
  • Service and Mission
  • Care for the Physical Body
  • Emotional Health
  • Family
  • Community

I want to live this kind of life! As Scazzero said, “begin slowly working on only one or two elements at a time. Be willing to make mistakes, try again, and learn new things.” As we move into a busy season in many ministries, what is one element that God is inviting you to try? Or tweak? I’ll share mine in the comments.

What has stood out to you overall from the book? What surprised you as you read this book? What do you disagree with? All this and more in the comments . . .

:), Amy

P.S. Next week we will have a fabulous post not related to book club, but it was so good I didn’t want you to miss it. In December, since we are busy, we are going to read a short Christmas story each week. I’ll give you the plan next week. Until then, read on, my friends!

Disclosure : Amazon Affiliate links included in this post.  If you click through to Amazon, any purchase you make supports this site. 

15 Comments

  1. Kiera Duncan November 16, 2015

    Amy, I just wanted to tell you that I have really enjoyed this book. Although I haven’t made the time to comment each week, I have gotten a lot out of reading it. Like you said near the beginning, I probably never would have picked it up from the title, so I am glad you picked it for book club. That got me to reading the sample on Amazon, and from that to buying it to read alongside you. I feel like it is the type of book that I need to go back to and just sit with each chapter for awhile. Rich. 🙂

    1. Amy Young November 17, 2015

      Me too! I think this was my 4th time reading it … and each time I get something out of it!

  2. Martha L November 16, 2015

    I had read this book about a year ago. And it is a book that is good to re-read and sit with each chapter for awhile like Kiera shared above. Amy, thanks for the challenge to think of one element from the Rule of Life to try. I think my one element to try, particularly now that I am back in the U.S. is the Care for the Physical Body. I have mapped 3 different walking routes of different lengths from my house and back again. However, I have been sporadic at best in getting out each morning and doing this. Thinking about it now as one of my Rules of Life is more helpful and hopefully more motivating. I want to do one of the walks at least 5 days of the week. Now to put feet to it, literally.:-)

    1. Amy Young November 17, 2015

      Martha, seeing your comment makes me so happy!! I love that after so many years and the meandering leading of God, our paths keep crossing. And I wish I could join you on one of these walks :).

  3. Deb Smith November 17, 2015

    Feel free to delete this after you see it, Amy. Just wanted to point out the misspelling of solitude in your list 🙂

    1. Amy Young November 17, 2015

      Thank you Deb!! When I first saw your comment I wondered what my brother-in-law was saying because his name is Del Smith and I just caught your name out of the corner of my eye :). So, I’m leaving this, as I’m delighted to see your name and have it now trigger happy connotations. Next time I see his name, I’ll think of you!

      1. Deb Smith November 17, 2015

        You are very welcome! And I saw that you already made the correction 🙂

  4. Rachel November 17, 2015

    Rule of Life was sort of where I “lived” in these chapters. I listed the elements in my journal, along with the things I already do for each, the things I want to start doing, and just questions for some of them because I need to evaluate later. I was so refreshed by the “permission” to work on a couple of them at a time. This is why I just listed questions for some of them (like all of the last 6). The main element I’m working on now is Sabbath. Though I have break days a few times a year, I absolutely need to start taking a weekly Sabbath, and I am going to.

    1. Amy Young November 17, 2015

      Rachel, isn’t it freeing to know you/we don’t have to do everything at one time :)!! Yay. And Yay for choosing one thing. What ideas do you have for Sabbath in this season and location of life?

      1. Rachel November 18, 2015

        When my kids are in school, possibilities are endless! Sundays are work and even some Saturdays, so a day off work in the middle of the week is normal. We already have family night Thursday, which means leftovers, leaving the dishes to be washed Friday, and playing games. I’m extending it for myself, making the whole day a break. Right now the kids are on their long break from school. I thought it might be hard to rest when I have them at home all day, but then it occurred to me that part of why they drain me so much is that I’m trying to get things done at the same time as take care of them. I’m breaking from work and chores, but while they’re home on break, I’m planning on just having fun with them on my Sabbath. (I will have alone time during their early morning outside play and afternoon rest time – I have to have some alone time every day.) Maybe we’ll do advent activities next month, bake, go to the beach…or just watch cartoons together. 🙂 I have no specific plans for tomorrow, but I have prepared myself for rest!

        1. Jodie November 20, 2015

          Those are great ideas, Rachel! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Phyllis November 24, 2015

    I want more! I enjoyed this book and got a lot out of it, but I felt like he stopped just as he was pulling me in. There’s no way I have arrived, and I am not on an emotionally healthy spiritual plateau or anything, but I feel he just scraped the surface of what could be there, and now I don’t know where to go. Do you have any suggestions of books that would be good follow ups? I feel like I could chase a million rabbits out from the end of this book, and I need help figuring out which rabbit trail to run down first.

     

    I think maybe the Daily Office and guided prayer should be my direction. Maybe? Where do I learn about that?

    1. Kimberly Todd November 24, 2015

      Hi, Phyllis. I really love this comment. Check out Phyllis Tickle’s work on the Daily Office. She has three volumes that take you around the church calendar praying four times a day. I’ve been using them for nearly a year, and find them to be an anchor. The introduction in each volume about the Office is dense with information and inspiration. This is the one we’re in now: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/038550540X?keywords=the%20divine%20hours%20tickle&qid=1448407660&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1. 

      1. Phyllis November 25, 2015

        Thank you! I use the online version of her work. I wonder how similar it is? I’ll look into it.

         

        Also, another question: what about more resources on becoming emotionally healthy and mature? How do we grow into that? I felt like this book touched on what it looks like, but barely said anything about how to get there. Not even many details of what it looks like! That example later in the book of the woman not telling her boss that she was upset… that would be pretty standard for me. I feel the feelings, talk to God about them and such, but I wouldn’t be likely to tell an almost-stranger about them. So, that’s unhealthy? Can emotional health look different for different people?

        1. Amy Young November 27, 2015

          Phyllis, great questions! Let me think on them and I do have some resources I’ll pull together. Xox Amy

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