How People Grow: What the Bible Reveals about Personal Growth

How People Grow: What the Bible Reveals about Personal Growth

by Henry Cloud, John Townsend


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310257370
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 05/10/2004
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 133,176
Product dimensions: 5.38(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Dr. Henry Cloud is an acclaimed leadership expert, psychologist, and New York Times best-selling author. In his leadership consulting practice, Dr. Cloud works with both Fortune 500 companies and smaller private businesses. He has an extensive executive coaching background and experience as a leadership consultant, devoting the majority of his time working with CEOs, leadership teams, and executives to improve performance, leadership skills, and culture. Dr. Cloud lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Tori, and their two daughters, Olivia and Lucy.

Dr. John Townsend is a nationally-known leadership consultant, psychologist, and New York Times bestselling author. John is the founder of the Townsend Institute for Leadership and Counseling, and the Townsend Leadership Program, which is a nationwide system of leadership training groups. He developed the online digital platform Townsend NOW, and the online assessment tool TPRAT. Dr. Townsend travels extensively for corporate consulting, speaking, and helping develop leaders, their teams and their families. He and his wife, Barbi, live in Newport Beach, California, and have two sons, Ricky and Benny. Visit Dr

Read an Excerpt

Harder Than I Thought

I saw that everything I had been learning that helped people grow was right there in the Bible all along.

It was my first day on the job in a Christian psychiatric hospital. I (Henry) was like a kid on Christmas morning. I had been taking college and seminary classes and reading all that I could get my hands on about Christian counseling for about four years, and I was ready to put my knowledge into practice. I showed up at the medical center in Dallas early that morning all geared up to teach the patients how to find the life I knew awaited them as soon as they learned the truth I had been taught.

I went up to the nurse's station and waited for the head nurse to finish writing in a chart so that I could introduce myself. The unit was bustling with early-morning activity. I saw patients talking with their doctors and visiting with each other. Nurses were taking patients' vital signs as other people were beginning groups, completing homework assignments, getting medications, and having therapy sessions--all the typical activities of a busy psychiatric unit.

I looked down the hall, and a woman in a pink bathrobe walked out of her room. She extended her arms outward and exclaimed, "I am Mary, Mother of God!"

Now think about this. Here I am, brand new at Christian counseling, and thinking that all I had to do was come in and tell people God loved them, and if they would understand more of what he has said, they would be well. This was what was going on in my mind. But when I heard what this woman said, I thought: This is going to be harder than I thought. It was a thought I would have many times in the year to come.


IN CHRISTIAN CIRCLES AT the time I was beginning training, there were basically four popular ways of thinking about personal growth: the sin model, the truth model, the experiential model, and the supernatural model.

The sin model said that all problems are a result of one's sin. If you struggled in your marriage or with an emotional problem such as depression, the role of the helper was to find the sin and confront you, urging you to confess, repent, and sin no more. If you did that, you were sure to get better. It was like many three-point sermons I had heard in strong Bible churches:

God is good.

You're bad.

3. Stop it.

The truth model held that the truth would set you free. If you were not "free," if some area of your life were not working, it must be because you lacked "truth" in your life. So the helper's role was to urge you to learn more verses, memorize more Scripture, and learn more doctrine (particularly your "position in Christ"), and then all of this truth would make its way from your head to your heart and ultimately into your behavior and emotions. Passages that emphasize knowing truth, renewing your mind, and how you "think in your heart" became a new theology of "thinking truth to gain emotional health."

The experiential model held that you had to get to the pain in your life--find the abuse or the hurt--and then somehow "get it out." Proponents of the more spiritual versions of this model either took the pain to Jesus or took Jesus to the pain. In a kind of emotional archaeology, people would dig up hurts from the past and then seek healing through prayer or imagery or just clearing out the pain. Proponents of this model emphasized Jesus' ability to transcend time; he could be "there" with you in your pain or abuse and could change it. The supernatural model had many variations. Charismatics sought instant healing and deliverance; others depended on the Holy Spirit to make the change happen as he lived his life through them. Exchanged-life people (those who hold that you just get out of the way so Christ can reproduce his life in you) as well as other very well-grounded students of the spiritual life trusted God to lead them and make changes in them.

While I saw value in all four models--and practiced all four to some degree--it wasn't difficult for me to decide which one made the most sense. After all, I was heavily into theology and studying the Bible, learning doctrine, and knowing everything I could about God and the faith. I have always been a big believer in the authority of the Bible. So I found the most truth in the truth model. I found enormous security in learning about God's plan for life, his sovereignty, my position in him, and the doctrines of forgiveness, justification, and the security of the believer. I believed in the power of the Bible and knew that God's truth could change any life. And I knew that if I could just teach others the same things and encourage them to know the truth as I was learning it, they would find the same kind of growth I had discovered. Yet, at the medical center I saw people who had walked with God for years and many who knew more about God's truth than I did. These people, laypeople and pastors alike, had been very diligent about prayer, Bible study, and other spiritual disciplines. Nevertheless, they were hurting, and for one reason or another, they had been unable to walk through their valley.

The woman in the pink bathrobe was a missionary who had been called off the field because she was out of touch with reality--out of touch with who she really was and where she was in time. Although the realization I had had with this particular woman came in response to an extreme situation, I had the same realization over and over with hundreds of other more normal clients. To deal with marital, parent-ing, emotional, and work struggles, people had tried the things they had been taught, and they felt as though these spiritual answers had let them down. And I began to feel the same way. Again the realization hit me: This is going to be harder than I thought.

Table of Contents

Part I.Paradise Lost
1)Harder Than I Thought15
2)Seeing the Big Picture26
3)How the Big Picture Affects the Small41
Part II.The Master Gardener: The God of Growth
4)The God of Grace63
5)Jesus: Our Example for Living79
6)The Holy Spirit94
Part III.Finding the Best Climate
7)God's Plan A: People117
8)Open Spaces: The Power of Acceptance147
9)Getting to the Warmth of Forgiveness161
Part IV.The Path of Growth
10)The Gardener's Handbook: The Bible189
11)No Pain, No Gain: The Role of Suffering and Grief206
12)Growing Tasty Fruit: Becoming a Righteous Person235
13)The Value of Pruning: Discipline249
14)Water from a Deeper Well: Spiritual Poverty264
15)Following the Gardener: Obedience278
16)Pulling the Weeds: The Problem of Sin and Temptation293
17)Facing Reality: How Truth Deepens Growth317
18)Putting on the Gloves: The Importance of Activity332
19)Waiting for the Harvest: Time346
Conclusion: Growth for Life361

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How People Grow 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
All serious Christians should be about the business of healing and growing personally and spiritually. This book is the best guide for spiritual growth I have ever read. The authors do a superb job of showing that the Bible is the manual for spiritual growth, and that being involved in relationship with other Christians who are serious in their pursuit of personal growth is the primary means toward achieving that growth. I appreciated the authors' honesty in describing their own growth issues and struggles in spiritual maturity -- admitting that we all screw up as we mature and that it is a life-long process rather than a course of study from which you 'graduate' at some point was very encouraging for me. The book is not only helpful for individuals who are pursuing their own growth, but it may actually be more useful for those who are leading or facilitating a growth/accountability group through their local church.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be truly helpful. I'm preparing to lead a Bible study, and I'm incorporating many of their suggestions into the study. They suggest that while many people try to find recovery apart from relationships, true healing occurs only when we reach out to other members of the body of Christ. No one is an island. Many of their principles are based on the book of Ephesians. Includes practical suggestions for church leaders.
gbautista72 More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. Very insightful. Lots of wisdom shared. It shows the essential process that make people grow, how those processes fit into a biblical understanding of growth in God & in life, how spiritual growth & real life issues are one & the same, the responsibilities of pastors, counselors, & others like small group leaders (ME) who assist people in growing & your own responsibility for your personal growth. I appreciate the knowledge and wisdom shared to help people grow including myself!  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Helpful and the verses are in the text for reference. Great read.
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