Understanding People By Larry Crabb

ISBN: 0-310-2260-7
READ: July 2003
RATING:  9/10

Summary: There are a few books that come along at just the right time in your life to profoundly impact your life. This was such a book for me. In it, Crabb clearly lays out a rubric for why people struggle. He carefully thinks through how Scripture can help people, how people can help others, and why we develop sin patterns. As a twenty-something, it caused a seismic shift in my view of the world and of making disciples. It helped me to process and face my own deep pain and my response to it. Since I’ve used this book with dozens to help awaken them to the depth of sin and breadth of hope through the Gospel.

I give it a 9/10 instead of a 10/10 because some have found the writing to be textbookish. The first four chapters do read like a counseling text, but it necessarily sets up the rest of the book. For those who want basically the same information that’s more readable, Inside Out has helped many. Still, this is one of the handful of books that I not only recommend, but continue to use in my ministry. As a result, my notes are more comprehensive than most of my book notes. Enjoy!

Chapters 1-4

Objective with this Book:  To help us uncover and understand the deeper issues people face (both Christians and non-Christians), and look at how we can begin to move towards repentance and healing in those areas.  This includes, but is not limited to 1.  How change occurs in people  2.  How we can promote that change in ourselves & others.

Intro:  Jesus is the Way 

     Hope to show that Jesus is the way, truth, and life.

            Pg. 21 Three Assumptions to Biblical Counseling:

1.     The Bible provides a sufficient and adequate framework to think through every question a counselor needs to ask.

2.     A Relationship with Jesus is essential to substantially resolve every psychological problem.

3.     God’s functioning community is the greenhouse to understand and live out God’s answers to the problems life presents.

 Chapter 1:  How do We Know What to Believe?

      Questions of effectiveness [in counseling] must come after questions of what is true and right.

            Pg. 26 “We must first concern ourselves with which ideas are true and which ones move people in directions that are ultimately good.” (Emphasis added)

            Pg. 29 “…Counseling models must demonstrate more than a mere consistency with Scripture; they must in fact emerge from it.” (Emphasis added)

                        -This asserts that the ends DO NOT justify the means!

            Four Roads to Knowledge:

1.     Intuition—A sense, when you “just know” it.

2.     Reason—The mind, logic, rationality.

3.     Experience—Hard data, measurable and observable data…empiricism.

4.     Revelation—God revealing truth.

Pg. 29 “…Without the framework and foundation of revelation the other three paths to ideas will invariable lead us to concepts that are inadequate…”

Chapter 2:  The Bible Warrants Our Confidence

     Two Types of Revelation:  General Revelation—Important truth we can learn from observing nature/creation.

                                              Special Revelation—Important truth we can learn from the Bible. 

            Pgs. 37-38  Two Book View of Revelationà God wrote two books: creation and the Bible.

                        -Claims we should study both, but give particular attention to field which concerns you…medicine, astronomy, psychology, etc.

                        -Approach works in dentistry, but is dangerous when applied to things like psychology/counseling.

(chart of pg 38)-Two Problems Emerge: 1.  “In a consistent use of the two-book method, discrepancies between Biblical and psychological conclusions can only be resolved through personal judgment.  Revelation is in effect scrapped, and human reason becomes the final arbiter.” Pg. 40.

2.     Because of inherent uncertainty we gravitate toward pragmatism.  What do I see working or bringing relief?  This is often the result of a sinful coping strategy. (fat kid making fun of himself so others won’t) 

     Biblical Authority: The Bible tells us how to find life.

            Pg. 42 “…Less error is likely to infect a counseling model built on Biblical foundations than one developed according to scientific research.” 

            Pg. 43 “Nature was not designed to be a textbook on life.  The Bible was.  The problems people bring to a counselor always involve a malfunction in life…”

            Pgs. 43-44  The Bible is plain, pure, and the Holy Spirit promises to help us understand it.

            Pg. 45 “…In every case, the instruction of Scripture must be final.”

Chapter 3: Does the Bible Speak Meaningfully to Every Human Problem?

  *Moral problems not physical/natural problems (chemical imbalance, disability, etc.).

     Three Answers:  1.  NO, the Bible is not sufficient, because it doesn’t directly answer many questions about how life is to be lived on earth according to an effective pattern.

            Results: Model doesn’t violate clear Biblical teaching, but doesn’t emerge from it.

                        Believes Biblical teaching on clear issues will lead to “clean” lives.

                                    -Churches degenerate into audiences instead of communities.

                        “Whenever a Bible-believing church regards its mission as not including ministry to the deep personal struggles hidden in all of us, it is stating in effect that the Bible does not speak to those concerns.” Pg. 52

                        Don’t try to deal with those struggles, the Bible isn’t sufficient, so people must look elsewhere. 

                                2.  YES, the Bible is sufficient, because it does directly answer every question about how life is to be lived on earth according to an effective pattern.

            Results: Makes some problems, struggles, and questions illegitimate (ex. Cross-dressing, Dt. 22:5).

                        Teach people how to live using 2 Tim. 3:16 Teach, rebuke, correct, train

Deals mainly with actions, rarely with motivations.

Treatment and understanding of complex problems is simplistic.

 Chapter 4: The Bible is a Sufficient Guide for Relational Living

                                 3. YES, the Bible is sufficient, because it provides either direct information or authoritative categories for answering every question about how life is to be lived on earth according to an effective pattern.  Whenever it is not explicit biblical categories provide a framework that leads to an adequate response.

            Results: Model makes room for addressing every problem that humans experience.

                        Teaches people that the heart is as important as the behavior

                        Looks below the water line to treat unhealthy living. (illus. on pg. 143)

Central Questions:

  • How can I find fulfillment in life?

  • How am I supposed to raise my kids so they will turn out right?

  • Why can’t I relax around people?

 Common Struggles:

  • Why am I so uncomfortable when meeting new people?

  • Why am I jealous of the success of others, especially those in my field?

  • Why do I have the nagging sense that there is something terribly flawed in me?

  • What do I do with the terrible pain I feel when I remember my mom’s suicide?

  • How do I handle my terrible fear that if I ever expressed how I really feel, no one would really want me?

  • Why do I feel so threatened when someone successfully proves that I’ve been wrong about something?

  • Why do I want to ignore and hide my internal struggles?

  • Why do I have no desire or motivation to do anything?

   “Christian communities somehow sense an obligation to maintain an image that things are really quite all right.  We learn to cooperate in a conspiracy of pretense, to keep our lives polished on the outside, and to deny both the emptiness and bitterness and discontent on the inside as well as our relational ineffectiveness and lack of real intimacy with others.” Pg. 67

            Matthew 23:27-28—We cannot afford to ignore the reality of our experience with life and God.

   “ The task of the counselor (or parent or preacher) is to embody in his own life the truth he wants others to hear.  Then the sentences that describe the truth will be accompanied by powerful illustration of the truth.” Pg. 72

   “Some people push me to do better by trying harder.  Others draw me to be better by enticing me with an indefinable quality about their lives that seems to grow out of an unusual relationship with Christ, one that really means something.” Pg. 45, Inside Out, Larry Crabb.

Chapters 5-7

Chapter 5:  How Can People Truly Change?

            Three Vital Questionsà  Who are we?  Why do we have so many problems?  What are the solutions?

            Pg. 78 “It requires little insight to conclude that something is wrong with people.  The human machine has got its wires crossed somewhere.”

            Pg. 78-79  “…An adequate appreciation of solutions depends on an adequate understanding of people and their problems.  The solution of Calvary, for example, is only valued to the degree that the problem of sin is grasped.”

     Luke 7:47

   We want to change and help others, but we don’t know how!  We want to change and help ourselves, but we don’t know how.

   Five Observations to guide us as we think through people, problems, and solutions:

1.     There are many different approaches to understanding people.

2.     Everyone has ideas about understanding people; some are more accurate than others.

3.     Our view of people will profoundly influence how we deal with people and life.

4.     Not all approaches are right.  Many are at odds, so some must be wrong.

5.     If there is a God, there must be a true way to understand people, problems, and solutions.

   Three Basic Models to understanding people:

            Dynamic Model—People are controlled by internal processes/personality dynamics.  The roots of these things are found in the past, often childhood.

               Client seen as a victim—They have a sickness that needs to be treated.

                        Example: Boy with an unloving and domineering mother may grow up to hate & fear women and see himself as weak.  This man would tend to retreat and comply rather than stand for something.

               Treatment occurs by searching for the roots of the problem.  Believe that exposure will lead to freedom to deal with it.

     (Dynamic and moral models strongly contradict each other)

            Moral Model—People are more stubborn than confused.  People are controlled by their own will and are responsible for what they do.

               Client seen as stubborn and/or irresponsible

               Treat by keeping focus on chosen patterns of behavior.  Also, by stripping away excuses for irresponsible behavior and exhorting appropriate change.  Little attention is given to motives for behavior.

      (Relational model takes issue with both the dynamic and moral model.)

            Relational Model—People are designed for relationship.  Problems are defensive attempts to handle pain, fear, and tension in significant relationships.  People are caught in a cycle of hurt, defensive retreat, more hurt, more retreat.

               Client seen as lonely

               Treat by creating an affirming relationship designed to 1. spark hope of meaningful interaction with others.  2. Offer safe setting to try new non-defensive patterns of relating.

   Counseling models, almost always, reflect core assumptions of one or more of these three models.

Chapter 6:  People Bear the Image of God

   Pg. 87 “Counseling theory always begins, either explicitly or implicitly, with a set of very basic ideas about human nature.

            Two Assumptions about Humans:  1. People are similar to God/Created in God’s Image

                                                                 2. Sin has badly distorted our similarity.

   Created in God’s Image…4 Views of Meaning:

1.     Image as Dominion/Representation—Genesis 1:27-28

a.     Our responsibility and calling are to faithfully reflect His purposes and character in all we do.


2.     Image as Moral Virtue—Ephesians 4:22-25, Colossians 3:9-10

a.     We enjoyed moral excellency at Creation, lost it in the Fall, and can regain it now in Christ.


3.     Image as Amoral Capacity—Developed by Catholic Theologians

a.     Man is a morally neutral creature who needs help in being godly.  Sin can be overcome through right living, but we need Christ for forgiveness.  Ends in being salvation by works.

4.     Image as Similarity—Genesis 1:25-28

a.     Similarity in personhood.  We are reproductions with similarities and differences with regard to the original, God.

                                                        i.     Key Similarities/Capabilities vis-à-vis God

1.     Deep Longings—Hosea 11:8, Psalm 42:1

a.     We deeply long for something personal!

2.     Evaluative Thinking—Genesis 6:5

a.     We rationally evaluate what is happening to us.

3.     Active Choosing—Ephesians 1:9-11, Philippians 2:12-13

a.     We willfully pursue a chosen direction/end.

4.  Emotional Experiencing—John 11:33-36, Hebrews 13:21, Job 30:27

a.     We experience the world emotionally. 

A Human Being is a dependent person with the same four capacities…

            --a personal being who longs deeply;

            --a rational being who thinks;

            --a volitional being who chooses;

            --an emotional being who feels.

Chapter 7:  Dependent Beings: People are Personal

   When things go wrong we tend to avoid looking deeply into ourselves to evaluate our contribution to the problem.

            Pg. 99 “The very thing that must be done if we are to understand people is the thing that is most strongly resisted.  Especially among Christians.”

                        WHY?  We fear the unknown, losing control, spoiling our comfortable existence, facing the truth about ourselves, confusion, etc.

                                    -We must combat the belief that maturity comes from not thinking too deeply about oneself.

   The Problem with Denial

            -Chosen denial is ok.  It is temporary relief from stress for the purpose of restoration or to gain perspective.

            -Other denial or refusal to look inward is wrong for at least two reasons.

1.     It contributes to the idea that problems are solved by ignoring or going around them, as opposed to addressing or going through them.

2.     God has given us the ability to explore our deepest parts purposefully.  Prov. 20:27, Ps. 51:6

   Dangers of Inward Looking

1.     Loss of Balance—We could become preoccupied or fascinated with ourselves, instead of being convicted to change.

2.     Can weaken sense of personal sin and feed deceptive tendencies…Self-centeredness sometimes masquerades as holy struggle.

   -To avoid these we must have a clear commitment to use whatever is discovered to become more like the Lord and to deal aggressively with whatever is wrong.

   Dangers of Denial

            -Denial reflects a desire to enjoy the level of comfort that only denial provides.  Christ’s comfort never demands pretense.

              Pg. 103 “The whole point of self-exploration is to learn dependency.  As long as our problems are well in hand, our natural commitment to independence remains strong…. Biblical counseling involves an uncovering or what has been deeply hidden for the purpose of promoting dependency.  Therefore it is good and necessary for real spiritual growth to face what we are most inclined to deny.”

    Why Face Our Issues?

            -We are dependent.  Pg. 104 “Image bearers are dependent.  Fallen image-bearers deny their dependency.  We think we can manage to make life meaningful without revolving our lives around God.  We cannot.  But we think we can.  And that is why God calls us ‘foolish’ (1 Cor. 1:20).”

            -To know God.  We must face ourselves in order to know God as deeply as we can. 

   Two Biblical Concepts to Guide our Inward Looking:

1.     The Innermost Being—A huge force in our life.  Jesus appeals directly to it (John 7:37-38), saying there is an ache there and He offers life to fill it.  Others are slaves to that ache (Romans 16:18).

a.     Pg. 105-106 “Either it [the innermost being] is the place where God’s Spirit fills us with a vital, rich life, or it becomes a monstrous power that relentlessly controls the core direction of our lives.  When Christ’s invitation to come is ignored, we eventually become driven people, hopelessly committed to a futile search for fulfillment.”  Does Jesus ever condemn people for not being fulfilled?

b.     To Understand people deeply we must realize that…

                                                        i.     All behavior is moving in a direction toward a chosen goal

                                                      ii.     Without the fullness of Christ filling our innermost being, we are motivated to move in whatever direction we think will relieve the emptiness of our Hollow Core.

c.     Pg. 106 “…The real culprit behind all non-organically caused human distress: a steadfast determination to remain independent of God and still make life work.

d.     Pg. 107 “Yielding control of arranging for our own satisfaction is frightening.  It puts us in a position of facing utter emptiness unless someone else [God] comes through.”


2.     Deepest Soul Thirst—Jesus appeals to this thirst as a good reason to come to Him.

a.     We must be willing to experience our longings.

                                                        i.     Pg. 112 “It is possible, and terribly common, to remain clinical [mental] and detached from the reality of our longings even as we discuss them.  It is far easier to describe our longings than to experience them.  But that won’t do.”

b.     Pg 108 “Notice that the appeal to come requires a prior awareness of one’s thirst.  It follows that our desire to know God and to enjoy Him depends on a painful awareness of what we lack.”

c.     The object of our thirst isn’t explicitly defined in Scripture.

d.     We thirst for two things:

                                                        i.     We thirst for relationship—God designed us for relationship with Himself and others.

1.     Pg. 112 “Each of us fervently wants someone to see us exactly as we are, warts and all, and still accept us.”

2.     Pg. 112 “As image-bearers we long for relationship.  As fallen image-bearers, we turn away from God to look for it.  No wonder God calls us foolish!  To walk past a fountain gushing with clear, cold water when we are thirsty and go instead to a broken fountain with a limited supply of brown, bacteria-ridden, lukewarm water is stupid.”

                                                      ii.     We thirst for impact—God designed us with a desire for purpose.

1.     Pg. 113 “We want to know that we are capable of doing a job that needs to be done.  We want to leave a mark on our world, a real and enduring difference that matters.”


Personal Circle Illustration—pages 117-119

Casual Longings—Desires for convenience, comfort, and personal preference.

                        -When our happiness depends on the satisfaction of our casual longings we are badly out of touch with the deeper issues of the soul.

Critical Longings—Legitimate hopes for deep human relationship and for visible impact on our worlds.  

                        -When these are unmet we hurt, grieve, and ache.  If our satisfaction is entirely in these things then we have not entered into the potential of life with God.

Crucial Longings—Deep thirsts of the innermost being.

                        -Only Jesus can meet these needs.  Awareness of unmet longings at other levels should drive us to Christ with the hope He will meet us on this level. 

   Important Conclusions:

1.     God appeals to people to enter into relationship with Him on the basis of their longings.  Therefore, knowing what our longings are and experiencing them deeply is important.  The person who is not in touch with his longings will not be drawn to the source of their satisfaction.

2.     Man in his right mind will pursue God as the source of satisfaction.  But man is not in his right mind; no one seeks after God.  And that failure to pursue God reflects mankind’s foolishness.

3.     Whatever we turn to in order to find satisfaction becomes our god.  Our determination to fill the Hollow Core becomes our tyrant, and we revolve our lives around whatever we wrongly believe will provide the fullness we desire.

4.     Satisfaction found in a false god will inevitably lead to a breakdown in relationships.  We become demanding rather than sacrificial, self-occupied rather than other-centered (James 4:1-3).

 What are the implications of these conclusions on your life and ministry?

Chapter 8:  Foolish Thinkers: People are Rational

   Man, like God, is a personal being.  He forms a plan and pursues it.

            God is totally independent, while humans are thoroughly dependent beings.

                        Humans cannot provide themselves with love or a reason to live.

            Pg. 123 “When a counselor speaks with his client, he must know that he is dealing with an image-bearer, a person who cannot be truly alive and happy unless he is in a relationship with God and is actively and deeply committed to carrying out God’s purposes.  Every “personal problem” (any problem in living not directly traceable to some organic malfunction) has its ultimate roots in a broken relationship with God and a commitment to a higher priority than knowing God.”

   Counseling then, should promote healing that fractured relationship with God through truth and repentance.

            Repentance must be at the center of the change process and it must be towards real change, not just behavior.

            Pg. 124 “Image-bearers must change in a way that enables a deeper, worshipful, intimate enjoyment of God and a compassionate, penetrating, rich involvement with others.”   

   Healthy People (The Goal)

1.     Deeply Enjoy God—“Healthy people deeply enjoy God, expressed with occasional bursts of ecstasy followed by long periods of quiet allegiance.  Their lives are anchored in Him.  They know that in their deepest parts they have felt His touch.” Pg. 125


2.     Free to be Involved with Others

a.     They experience no need to protect or defend themselves.

b.     They are not threatened by the pain of disappointment or conflict, but they do understand the importance of timing and discretion as they seek to resolve interpersonal conflict.

c.     They do not retreat from others when they experience pain.


3.     Involvement is their Lifestyle—They live with a quiet power.  Their very presence is felt by some and it draws others to want to live more nobly.


4.     Marred Joy

a.     They experience life lived in anticipation of eternity.

b.     They experience sadness at life not being as it should, but this sadness doesn’t become anger/bitterness.


5.     Okay with Confusion—They have given up their claim to independence and control.

6.     Struggle

a.     Temptation is acutely felt and they fall now and then.

b.     They know how to repent from the core and return to seek life/satisfaction in God.


7.     Growing Ability to be Touched by God and to Touch Others

a.     Though they have common symptoms of emotional trouble, they aren’t controlled by them and normally those symptoms appear for a short time then pass again.

   Why don’t more of us look like this?

            Sin—pg. 127-128 “During the last two centuries, the understanding of sin has suffered a correlative decline in the church along with the apprehension of God….  They [humans] are at moral enmity with the God revealed in the Bible.  Since his purposes cross theirs at every juncture, they really hate him more than any finite object, and this is clearly displayed in their treatment of His son.  They are largely unconscious of this enmity.  It is usually repressed through their unbelief……the church’s consciousness of sin began to erode along with its awareness of God.  Gradually sin began to be defined in a way, which seemed more relationally defensible: sins are conscious, voluntary acts of transgression against known laws….  But the structure of sin in the human personality is far more complicated than the isolated acts and thoughts of deliberate disobedience commonly designated by the word.  In its biblical definition, sin cannot be limited to isolated instances or patterns of wrongdoing; it is something much more akin to the psychological term complex: an organic network of compulsive attitudes, beliefs, and behavior deeply rooted in an alienation from God.”

                        Pg. 128 “The human heart is now a reservoir of unconscious disordered motivation and response, of which unrenewed persons are unaware if left to themselves…”

            Man Was Created with Knowledge—pg. 131 “He [Adam pre-Fall] knew that he did not have within himself the resources necessary for life; he needed God and he knew it.  There was no tug toward independence and self-reliance.” 

                        Pg. 131 “With that rebellion against God man became foolish, abandoning the necessary premise for all clear thinking—life is in God, not oneself—and believing a lie that stains every other thought: a better life can be found through independent self-expression and self-determination.”

               We are flexible in our attempts to find life outside of God, trying whatever we think will work and moving on to something else when the other doesn’t work, but we are stubborn in our belief that we can do it without God.

                        Pg. 132 “We are committed to independence and, from the core of our being, we move against God.  We are at enmity with Him.  We hate Him because He demands what we foolishly think will rob us of life: surrender, trust, and obedience.

            Satan’s Trump Card—Independence really does seem to lead to life.  It often yields results more immediately than God’s way.

   Four Common Coping Strategies (from Connecting by Larry Crabb)

1. City Building.  City builders depend on their own resources to make their lives work.  Their commitment to personal adequacy gives rise to urges that block connections.  (Gen. 4:12, 17, 19-22; 11:4; Jn. 14:1-3, Heb. 11:10, 13-16)

a.      Story of guy who took pride in being a perfectionist.

2. Fire Lighting.  Fire lighters reduce the mystery of life to manageable categories of understanding.  These categories are useful to the degree they suggest strategies for handling life that have guaranteed outcomes.  Their commitment to having confidence in their plans occupies them in ways that spoil connections. (Is. 50:10-11)

a.      Don’t like to be questioned.  Hate confusion/uncertainty.  Love formulas, principles, am I right?

 3. Wall Whitewashing.  Wall whitewashers make it their priority to minimize risk, to protect themselves at all costs against whatever difficulties might frustrate their plans.  Their commitment to safety restricts the freedom that connecting requires.  (Ezekiel 13:3, 10-14 Isaiah 30:10-11)

4. Well Digging.  Well diggers insist on feeling good, now and on their terms.  They demand control over their internal experience or well-being.  Their commitment to satisfaction on demand dulls their awareness of the impact they have on others as they seek their own pleasure.  That lack of concern over their impact gets in the way of connecting.  (Jeremiah 2:13-14)


     -As we grow up we develop mental pictures of the world.  These pictures shape how we respond to the world.

     -Consistent experiences convey a theme of pictures which becomes a core image.

            -There will always be a core image of ourselves that is deeply painful to us, because children are disappointed by the world and people around them.  Only God can provide fullness.

            -We tend to blame ourselves for the pain to maintain control.

                        -If the problem is ours then we have hope for change.  If it is the world then we are left at its mercy.

                        -So we select a painful self-image to avoid the greater pain of acknowledged helplessness.

                        -Examples of negative self-image include inept, stupid, clumsy, barren, etc.

            -We tend to hide our defect or seek to correct it.  Both are independent actions to maintain control.

                        -When we function with a negative self-image we avoid the real route to life: dependence!

            -We can change our negative self-image.  Change begins by repenting of it as a way to be independent of God.  The defensive image loses its hold when we stop trying to pursue life through it.


     -Beliefs are carefully crafted efforts, formed in response to images, to lay out a strategy that will minimize pain and maximize the satisfaction that can be found.

            -Often formed by asking consciously or unconsciously, How can I compensate/cover-up my weakness in order to find life?


   Pg. 139 “Because images and beliefs take initial shape through the inevitable disappointments of childhood, identifying the specifics of those disappointments will often help people more clearly recognize the images and beliefs by which they govern their lives.”


            -We are both victims and agents.  We are victims of our parents…the result of being raised by fallen image-bearers.  All bear wounds, some deeper than others.  We are also agents.  We are responsible for our own refusal to turn to God for the life we did not find in our parents.

     Pg. 139 “The struggles we experience have more to do with the defensive images and beliefs we hold right now, than with the manner in which our parents victimized us.  And because those images and beliefs are part of our pursuit of life apart from God, the remedy centrally involves repentance of the foolish idea that life exists apart from God and redirection to handle life according to God’s instructions.”

Chapter 9:  The Beginning of Change: Repentance

 Pg. 142-143 “The unconscious, in my view, is neither a derivative of secular Freudian thinking smuggled into Christian theology nor a thrilling but untapped resource with which I can become godlike….It is rooted in Biblical teaching that, above all else, our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked.”  

   Iceberg Illustration—What is on the water line?

            Pg. 144 “If no work is done beneath the water line, then work above the water line results in disastrous externalism in which visible conformity to local standards is all that matters.”

                        -The result of such ministry is either robots or rebels.

            Pg. 144 “We must learn to deal with problems below the water line….  We must understand what is going on within the personality and figure out how to help people deal with those parts that block movement toward increasing dependence on God.”

   In struggling with sin we often divide our personality/internal dynamics into two parts:

1.     “I” - The part I am responsible for…We are the agent. (Conscious)

2.     “It” - The part I struggle to hold down…We are the victim. (Unconscious)

   Pg. 145 “…We are all both victims and agents.  But I do not believe that we are victims of our unconscious….  The images and beliefs that we develop in the context of our environment represent our chosen efforts to make sense of our worlds in a way that maintains our independence.”

   There is an unconscious, but it’s up to us to be aware of how it’s affecting us.

   Pg. 146 “Because of our commitment to remain in control of our world for purposes of self-protection, we are unwilling to experience our desperate pain and to repent of our sinful strategies.  It is therefore true that no one sees himself clearly until he is exposed by another.”

            Three Instruments that Provide that Self-Exposure:

1.     The Word of God (Hebrews 4:12-13)

2.     The Spirit of God (John 16:7-11, Psalm 139:23-24)

3.     The People of God (Hebrews 3:13)

It is up to us to look to these for accurate and consistent self-exposure.

Can we help someone who doesn’t want to be exposed?

  What’s Involved in the Self-Conscious?

     Two Elements:   1.  Relational Pain

                               2.  Self-Protective Relating Patterns

   Relational Pain exists because no one naturally or perfectly pursues God as the satisfier of the soul, so we all experience pain, emptiness, and vulnerability as we seek to be satisfied through human relationships. 

            How can we handle relational pain? (Two Ways)

                        Pg. 147 “Either we can turn to God and cling with stubborn intensity to Him when life threatens to rip out our very souls, or we can deny the depth and meaning of our pain and keep on working to feel better without sacrificing our independence.”

            No one perfectly chooses to turn to God.

     To remain independent we must minimize the intensity of life’s disappointments.

-These disappointments occur in our closest relationships where we depend and demand the most.

            -Because we seek to minimize its intensity, some pain goes unrecognized, thus we become unconscious to it.

   Self-Protective Relational Strategies are constructed to deal with life and minimize pain awareness.

            -We choose strategies that fit with our images and beliefs.

     Strategies help us achieve: 1.  Comfortable distance from the threat of relational pain

                                              2.  Close enough to allow others to touch us positively

                        Examples include: Funny, quiet, smart, etc.

            The motivation for our relational strategies is to manipulate others and to protect and serve ourselves.

   Pg. 148 “Counseling that aims to promote maturity by encouraging people to give up their independence and to trust the Lord must concern itself with whatever elements in the mind that are nourishing the commitment to independence.”

            Biblical Counselors look for:

1.  Denied relational pain arising from disappointed longings.

                        2.  Subtle and unrecognized wrong strategies designed to protect from further pain.

  Share a self-protective strategy that you see in someone you live/work/study with.

 Repentance from these things is essential!

    Pg. 149 “Entrance into that relationship [with God] requires repentance, a complete turn about in our thinking.  We must scrap the foolish idea that life is available on our own and with humble contrition embrace the life Christ offers.  Just as entering relationship with Christ can never happen without repentance, so improving that relationship demands ongoing repentance.”

   Colossians 2:6 “So then just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him…”

            The work of repentance involves uncovering where we seek to protect ourselves more than seeking to obey God, and replacing that self-protective manipulation with vulnerable obedience.

     -To truly change you must have both forgiveness and involvement.  These are the fruit of true repentance.

   Pg. 151 “It is through deep repentance—abandoning manipulative styles of relating in favor of risky involvement with others—that God is enjoyed and people are loved. 

Chapter 10: Free to Choose: People are Volitional

   The problem of confusion…

            We don’t like the feeling of being out of control or confused.

               -When we face confusion that we can’t deny, we choose to deal with it by either:

1.     Relying on someone else who is not confused (e.g. a mechanic).

2.     Replacing confusion with understanding (e.g. going to a automotive school).

   -The first option makes us feel weak, while the second is rarely realistic.

   Pg. 155 “We find unappealing the prospect of trusting God by accepting confusion as a necessary part of life and then moving on decisively amid the confusion.”

            -Motivated by fear and anger we try to bring order to our world.  Normally the accuracy of the order is not a primary concern.

            -Our capacity to choose often results in sin.  We choose certainty over uncertainty, often at the expense of accuracy.

   The consequences of closing off thought:

1.     Trivialize Reality

2.     Self-Deception

3.     Ignoring Difficult Questions

4.     Focus on Confirming Our Beliefs (rather than what is true)

   The Reality of Choice…

            Scripture treats people as responsible beings.  We cannot hide behind our sinful nature or unconscious.

   Proverbs 20:5 “The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out.”

     Central Principle - Every behavior has a goal.

     Volitional Capacity -  We have the capacity to choose behavior and goals.

            -We must pay attention to our motivations, if we are to understand our behavior.

              Teleological View of Motivation - Interprets relating as a strategy for reaching a certain goal.

                        -Treats the person as an image bearer who chooses what he does and why he does it. 

                                    -Relating style is interpreted as a strategy for reaching a desired goal.

-This view places the responsibility with the person.  He is not primarily a victim of desires.  He chooses.

      -Many people feel like they don’t have a choice.  This is a common and often every day experience.

            -Loss of felt choice doesn’t mean loss of actual choice.

               Pg. 164 “Behavior will feel like a choice to the degree that the goal of the behavior is recognized.  A corollary follows naturally: Behavior in pursuit of an unrecognized goal does not feel like a choice.”

   Pg. 168 “…No enduring and worthwhile change takes place without recognition and repentance of wrong goals.”

  Pg. 168 “The process is slow and never-ending.  Because our commitment to independence and self-protection is at best only weakened (rather than eliminated) during this life, there will always be more self-protective purposes to face.”

Chapter 11:  Feeling the Impact of Life: People are Emotional

Three Questions must be addressed to understand our emotional life.

1.     What is the source of our emotions?  (Where do they come from?)

2.     What is the usefulness of our emotions? (What can we learn from them?)

3.     How should we handle our emotions? (What do we do with them?)

   It’s ok to hurt.  Life in a fallen world means that we will hurt.

Pg. 173 “In heaven, nothing will be wrong with anything.  But here, something’s wrong with everything….The stronger our commitment to know the Lord, the more we groan about our disappointing surroundings and imperfect selves.”

Pg. 173 “We must relieve ourselves of the pressure to ‘feel good’ when something legitimately painful happens.  Hurting Christians must embrace their pain, not deny it out of guilt.”

            How do Christians normally handle their emotional pain?  What is a good way to handle it?

Crabb suggests that it is best to fully embrace and experience our emotion and then evaluate what we should do next.

            -The effect of pain can and should drive us to a deeper connection to God.

 Where do emotions come from?

   Two categories of emotions: 1.  Pleasant/unpleasant emotions   2.  Constructive/destructive emotions.

            Pleasant/Unpleasant emotions are largely reactive.  We react to our environment and the stimuli that we encounter.  Just as a healthy physical person responds in certain ways to specific stimuli, the same is true of emotional stimuli.

            Constructive/destructive emotions…these are determined by the way we are reacting to pleasant/unpleasant emotions.

                        Pg. 176, “Feelings…should be evaluated to determine whether they are constructive or destructive.  Once an emotion is acknowledged, the important question to ask is whether that emotion reflects movement away from God or whether it is consistent with movement toward Him.  If it is clear that how we feel is hindering our loving involvement with God or with someone else, then we must trace the emotion to its root.  Something is going on inside us that needs correction.”

    An emotion is constructive or destructive based not on what happens to us, but how we react to what happens to us.  We can’t control what happens to us, but we do choose how we respond to our environment.

Chart page 179, 182.

            Pg. 178 “The principle holds: wisdom leads to constructive feelings, foolishness to destructive ones.”

            Is this always the case?

Pg. 183 “A commitment to self-protection rooted in foolish thinking has the power to corrupt every emotion, whether pleasant or unpleasant, and make them all destructive.”

            What makes this true?

What can we learn from emotions?

Pg. 184 “Emotions then can serve as a warning light telling us to take a look inside or as an indication that we’re on track in our efforts to function properly as created image-bearers.  It is good news to realize feelings which rob me of the energy to keep on in my pursuit of God have their source within me.  That means I can do something about my emotional problems.  I may not be able to manufacture pleasant feelings, but I can learn to mature in a way that will make more of my emotions constructive.”

 What should we do with our emotions?

   We should FEEL THEM!

            -Too often Christians have become very adept at denying the way we feel.

Pg. 186 “People who are neither excitable nor moody can look very spiritual.  The evidence of their immaturity is unmistakable, however; people who deny how they feel typically are unable to enter and touch another person’s life deeply.  Because they have sealed off deep parts within themselves, they can neither discern nor properly deal with deep parts in others.”

   We should be unafraid to and willing to say exactly how we feel.

Pg. 187 “The degree to which we openly express our feelings should be governed, not by fear or reprisal, but by our commitment to loving others.”

 3 Guiding Principles:

  1. Fully experience your emotions.  Feel them!

  2. Use your emotions; evaluate what they reveal about your beliefs and purposes.

  3. Be free to express every emotion, but limit expression by the purposes of love.

Chapter 12: The Evidence of Maturity: Love

   Many people look mature to us, but few people actually are mature.

How would you experience a mature Christian?

Pg. 194 “Maturity is less related to perfection than to a growing awareness of our own imperfection….Mature people wrestle with their sinfulness, mostly in an intensely private battle fought against stains that are visible only to those whose standards are intolerably high and whose awareness of self-deception is disturbingly acute.  In the midst of ongoing warfare, they find rest in the reality of abounding grace and perfect love.  Mature people are internally comfortable (or at least quiet/still), but never complacent.”

            -Maturity is most clearly seen in the way people relate to others.  Mature people have abandoned self-protection.

Chapter 13:  The Essence of Maturity: Realized Dependency

Pg. 201 “Loving people must summon their volitional powers to act against their feelings on behalf of others.  But if that is all they do, if some deeper does not occur, their love will always lack presence.  The ones they love may feel cared for and looked after, and they may even sense an encouraging warmth developing within them, but they will not be drawn to deeper personal involvement with the Lord.  People who are fully there in a relationship stir others with their presence.  But there will be no presence without deeply changed character.”

How do we develop strong character?

Two Models:

1.     Acquisition/Performance Model—Character develops when we understand right teaching/doctrine and then put that into practice in our lives.  Key assumption is that character can develop without working on the hidden issues that are below the water line.

Pg. 204 “If that assumption is true, then this model is good.  If not, then people trained according to this model will become puffed-up, capable conformists who reproduce themselves…and thereby weaken God’s people.”  The sin habits and patterns that we have developed are never effectively identified and repented of, instead we build up an exterior that looks good, a shell of self-sufficiency that is very hard to penetrate.

2.     Character Through Community—This model emphasizes two ideas.  First character that enables a person to love develops best when hidden issues (deep longings and self-protective relational strategies) are directly addressed.  Second that the ideal soil for deep character development is rich community.  This model includes all the elements of the first one, but puts them in a specific context. 

Pg. 207 “Maturity—realized dependency, admitted poverty, brokenness: life simply isn’t working the way we want it to and we can do nothing to change it.”

 Conclusion: Jesus is Indeed the Way

Pg. 210 “When life is exposed for what it really is, the only reasonable options are turning to Christ, suicide, or returning to some level of denial (which is nothing more than building a house on sand).”