Toughest People to Love (a guest post and a giveaway!)

I'm thrilled to have Chuck DeGroat here today, not just because I'm excited to read his new book, , which releases tomorrow. But because Chuck used to be one of my pastors out here in San Francisco, and his teaching has profoundly shaped my spiritual life. (If you read my book you'll see Chuck's name in there, introducing my poor little frantic soul to the concept of "wholeheartedness.")

Chuck is a pastor and therapist and a professor whose inherent understanding of people--our desires, our frailties, our needs--profoundly shapes the way he ministers and counsels and teaches. I'm excited to have him here because I really do believe that his perspective and his wisdom are unique within the Church and important to some big conversations we need to be having, especially within evangelicalism. I want you to read his books. 

 

I've stopped by Micha's blog because she is a friend, and because I think we're on a similar journey.  You see, we've discovered something along the way that changes everything.  We've discovered we're Found.  Yes…of course, that is the title of Micha's wonderful book, a book I'm telling people about it wherever I go.  I know few mothers who are contemplatives like Micha.  I know even fewer who see God in the ordinary. That takes an extraordinary capacity to 'see'.

Jesus once said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."  It seems we're looking everywhere but not seeing God.  We're seeking "purity" in being good or smart or witty or holy, and not finding the peace God promises.  We're frantically pursuing perfection in our parenting and our prayers and our polarizing theological debates, and it's just not happening.  And we're all very, very tired.

I've been a pastor, a therapist, and a professor over the past 16 years, and I've seen every kind of exhaustion.  I've seen many men and women who long to be "Found," but find themselves lost.  A few years back, I wrote a book called , in which I talked about the long journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, the journey which mirrors our own wilderness journeys.  And then I heard many friends at City Church San Francisco and on Twitter and pastoring churches and leading organizations ask, "Can you write something that helps us love the very difficult people in our lives?  Can you help us see how God pursues the most broken among us?"

I think Micha would agree that knowing that we're pursued, loved, even Found is central to the extraordinary Gospel story.  Adam and Eve, naked and ashamed and hiding in the Garden, heard God's first words after they blew it --"Where are you?"  God said these words not in an angry rant, but with the compassion of a heartbroken lover.  Where are you?  These are the same words we hear.  These are the same words we speak.  We need to hear these words amidst our hiddenness.  The people we love need to hear God saying, "Where are you?"  And we are conduits of this gracious love.  After all, we all need to be Found, right?

I wrote this book to get as practical as I could get about living with and loving the toughest people to love in our lives.  These are the people we'd rather not pursue. These are the people who drive us crazy.  These are the addicts, the abusers, the narcissists and fools.  And yet, somehow we're called to be conduits of God's love.  How can we possibly do this?  I give some guidance for each of us called to love the difficult people in our lives.

The book is called .  In it, I talk about addiction and personality disorders.  I tell stories of people who've been difficult to lead and love, and I tell personal stories, including my own darkest moments.  I muse on wholeness and provide pathways to it.  In the end, my hope is that it, like Micha's work, resists self-help techniques or recipe theology, and envisions a path to deeper union and communion with God.  In the end, our role as leaders and pastors is to help remove every obstacle to union with God, so that we can truly be Found.  My hope and prayer is that those of you who lead and pastor and live with difficult people find insight, wisdom, and counsel in order to love more deeply.

Thank you, Micha.  And grace and peace to all your readers.

 

Chuck is Assoc. Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at Western Theological Seminary, MI, and Senior Fellow at Newbigin House of Studies, San Francisco.  He's an experienced pastor, therapist, and professor.  His first book was . 

 

 

 

 

We're giving away three copies of Chuck's book today! Click on the Rafflecopter link and it will instruct you in how to enter. Click on the icon below, then tweet or leave a comment here answering, What is the most important thing you've learned about loving difficult people?   I'd love to hear from you!

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