Flourishing people are strong and weak.
Two common temptations lure us away from abundant livingwithdrawing into safety or grasping for power. True flourishing, says Andy Crouch, travels down an unexpected pathbeing both strong and weak.
We see this unlikely mixture in the best leaderspeople who use their authority for the benefit of others, while also showing extraordinary willingness to face and embrace suffering. We see it in Jesus, who wielded tremendous power yet also exposed himself to hunger, ridicule, torture and death. Rather than being opposites, strength and weakness are actually meant to be combined in every human life and community. Only when they come together do we find the flourishing for which we were made.
With the characteristic insight, memorable stories and hopeful realism he is known for, Andy Crouch shows us how to walk this path so that the image of God can shine through us. Not just for our own good, but for the sake of others.
If you want to become the kind of person whose influence leads to healthy communities, someone with the strength to be compassionate and generous, this is the book for you. Regardless of your stage or role in life, whether or not you have a position of leadership, here is a way to love and risk so that we all, even the most vulnerable, can flourish.
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About the Author
Crouch served as executive producer for the documentary films Where Faith and Culture Meet and Round Trip, as well as the multi-year project This Is Our City, which featured documentary video, reporting and essays about Christians seeking the flourishing of their cities. He also sits on the editorial board for Books & Culture and was editor-in-chief of re:generation quarterly. He also spent ten years as a campus minister with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at Harvard University.
A classically trained musician who draws on pop, folk, rock, jazz and gospel, Crouch has led musical worship for congregations of five to twenty thousand. He lives with his family in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.
Table of Contents
1. Beyond the False Choice
Interlude: The Path to Flourishing
6. Hidden Vulnerability
7. Descending to the Dead
8. Up and to the Right
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Paradox of Flourishing One of the great joys of middle age has been the privilege of watching my oldest son and his wife parent a son who is made in the exact image and likeness of his energetic, curious, strong-willed dad. Like all new parents, they are executing this balance of firmness and warmth, freedom and structure, love and discipline in the midst of multiple distractions and with sleep-deprived brains. Good parenting requires the embrace of two things that seem like opposites, but in Strong and Weak, Andy Crouch shares a useful and inspiring manner of viewing paradox that reveals the myth of our linear model for viewing the world which focuses on the word "or": humble or bold; firm or warm; exaltation or humiliation. In the paradox of flourishing we are invited to embrace this tension, for flourishing requires both strength and weakness, authority and vulnerability. Simple and ingenious, Andy Crouch has devised a 2x2 chart that demonstrates "the genius of the 'and'" which results in a melding of authority and vulnerability, and which captures John 10:10-style abundant living, "the very heart of what it is to be human and to live for God and others." Capacity for meaningful action (authority) balanced with exposure to meaningful risk (vulnerability) is the essence of the flourishing life. Failures of authority, vulnerability, or both result in: suffering (high vulnerability, low authority) exploitation (high authority, low vulnerability) withdrawal (low authority, low vulnerability). Everyone experiences each quadrant of this 2x2 grid at some point and to some degree: end of life suffering, complete helplessness (withdrawal) in infancy (or when the X-Box One is on in the living room). Andy helps his readers to see, however, that even though both authority and vulnerability are necessary for a full life and for effective leadership, "we do not pursue these two good things with the same wholeheartedness - or even the same halfheartedness." The unwillingness of one person (tyrannical dictator) or one group (a police force that uses extreme methods) to bear any vulnerability at all sheds and multiplies that vulnerability onto another person or group. Ironically, those who pursue authority without vulnerability are pursuing an idol which will rob them of meaningful relationships -- and will not deliver on any of its lofty promises. Jesus demonstrated the greatest paradox of flourishing in His own life on this planet by revealing that the abundant life is "only found on the other side of suffering -- specifically, our willingness to actively embrace suffering." Particularly in the case of leaders, we must be willing to take responsibility for the flourishing of others, thereby becoming exposed ourselves to the forces of idolatry and injustice. "Only those who have faced loss, who have drunk from the cup of undiluted vulnerability -- and who have been rescued by a power infinitely beyond their own at the depths of their greatest need -- can offer hope stronger than the idol's word of fear." This understanding brings flesh and blood to the Apostle Paul's upside-down statement about authority and vulnerability: "Whenever I am weak, then I am strong," I Corinthians 12:5-10. With elements of memoir and story, Strong and Weak is deeply informative for leaders, or for anyone who wants to make a difference in the world, and this in itself would be "enough"; however, Andy Crouch shares intensely practical advice that bring