Author and Christian counselor Stephen Arterburn addresses exactly that in his book, The Exceptional Life: 8 Powerful Steps to Experiencing God's Best for You. Mr. Arterburn addresses eight areas in which individuals have struggled with that could hinder the plan that God has for our lives. With humor, Scripture, and real life stories from individuals whom he has counseled, Mr Arterburn discusses guilt and shame, resentment, fear, anger, instant gratification, helplessness, isolation, and addiction. He also discusses how we can overcome these circumstances and live the life God truly intended us to have.
What really struck me about this book was that I could really hear the voice of Stephen Arterburn within its pages. The book reads like a conversation that the author is having with the reader. The language is very personable, which may makes it easier for the reader to surrender themselves to the difficult topics discussed. The questions at the end of each chapter really allow the reader to explore each topic as it relates to them.
In sum, I would recommend this book.
Note: I have received a free copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a review.
What is an exceptional life? Is it amassing tremendous wealth? Is it a perpetual state of happiness? Is it even possible? In The Exceptional Life by Stephen Arterburn, an exceptional life is essentially experiencing God's best for one's life. An exceptional life is filled with hope, love, trust, forgiveness, patience, power, connection and freedom.
Arterburn addresses eight difficult issues keep can keep a person from leading an exceptional life: guilt/shame, resentment, fear, anger, instant gratification, learned helplessness, isolation and addiction. Each chapter is divided into three parts that address what the issue is, how it affects a person and how to break free from the power of it.
Because The Exceptional Life by Stephen Arterburn addresses several heavy issues, I really appreciated the bits of humor that were incorporated throughout the book. Just the introduction had me laughing and the humor made the topics less intimidating. Reading the book was like sitting down with a therapist and getting some honest, non-biased advice about life. I feel like Arterburn's descriptions and solutions regarding each issue were right on target. Although I have not personally experienced all of the issues addressed in the book, I found that I could always see some way to apply what he was saying to my life. I liked that, when applicable, he used Scripture to back up his points.
I would recommend to any Christian who is looking to experience the best life that God intends for him or her.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Bethany House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
"The Exceptional Life" by Stephen Arterburn is a good book. It is full of Biblical wisdom, personal life experiences, and counseling experiences. Arterburn describes 8 common symptoms of emotional dysfunction and how they keep you from experiencing God's best for you.
Arterburn definitely knows what it takes to help people live more healthy lives. We often get in the way of what God wants us to do, and this book is a good tool to overcoming unhealthy thinking and patterns. It certainly makes you look at your life and examine if there are any issues that are holding you back from the life God wants you to live. He looks at guilt/shame, resentment, fear, anger, instant gratification, helplessness, isolation, and addiction. Chances are, only 1 or 2 of the 8 steps will truly speak to you, as each of us is different; however, each of the chapters offers good wisdom that could benefit you and your loved ones.
Overall, the book is well written and helpful. Not the best Arterburn book I've read, sometimes the humor is a little forced, but still a good resource.
I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review.
Arterburn has spent years listening to people share their suffering. He began to discern patterns in why and how people tend to become, to some degree, dysfunctional. He found that the root of their issue was almost always that they were hanging on to something they needed to let go of.
He boiled it down to eight things that we must release to move to the good things. He writes a chapter on each one. Within the chapter, he makes sure we are clear on the nature of the negative quality. Then he looks at the negative impacts of the quality. He add practical, spiritual, Bible-based advice on how, once and for all, to give it up. He moves on to the God-given positivity we will gain. He ends each chapter with what this new-found godliness will do for us. He adds several questions to stimulate group discussion on the chapter's content.
The eight qualities:
Any person can give up guilt and shame, in order to get back hope.
Any person can give up resentment, in order to get back love
Any person can give up fear, in order to get back trust.
Any person can give up anger, in order to get back forgiveness.
Any person can give up instant gratification, in order to get back patience.
Any person can give up learned helplessness, in order to get back power.
Any person can give up isolation, in order to get back connection and community.
Any person can give up addiction, in order to get back freedom.
Arterburn gives examples from his own life and those he has counseled to show how these qualities function and the results they cause. He also gives illustrations of people who have overcome their issues. Some humor is added along the way to help make taking the medicine (so to speak) easier.
Here are some notes from the chapter on learned helplessness. It is terrible when you feel there is nothing you can do. You just feel, "I can't!" Granted, there are some things you can't do (like fly to the moon), but this is about what you could do, but think you can't. You feel like you're locked into your current state.
Arterburn gives an example of a woman who was poor, really poor, but is now a successful business owner.
He notes that leaned helpless ruins your chance of personal growth. It ruins your chances of professional advancement. There is a feeling of being overwhelmed, of being helpless. You always feel like someone else is driving your car.
Arterburn advises simple and clearheaded observation as a tool to understand what is going on inside yourself. Note the particular situations around the feelings. Later review. Where you really helpless? Be realistic. Who trained you to have this behavior? Know you don't have to behave that way.
To gain back your power, remember that God made you. God loves you. Remember that God empowers the powerless. Pray and watch as God empowers you. Remember, Jesus Christ died so you can live.
You will begin to see the potential in every situation. "With God on the inside, you'll be stunned at all you can do - how far you can go - in the world." (157)
Arterburn hopes this book will inspire you "to give your life a long look and _ discover things you know you need to change." (209) That it does.
He wants you to live exceptionally. This book is a great to with which to begin that journey.
Arterburn lives to empower others. (85) He's done a good job doing exactly that in this book.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House for the purpose of this review.
The Exceptional Life written by Stephen Arterburn, offers 8 powerful steps to experiencing God's best for you. Over the course of 8 chapters this book examines the eight areas that will prevent you from experiencing God best. The book challenges you to dig deep into yourself to discover areas that are causing issues for you. Each chapter then offers the steps to begin dealing with the issue(s) at hand. It is my belief that if one follows through, then the power of God will be unleashed to bring about healing and life change.
I found the book to be insightful and sometimes hard to read because of the need to look deep within. Often times we will glance at our problems, but this book really get ones magnifying glass out to look at the deeper often hidden underlying cause. As I did this myself, I found what Stephen offers for the "fix" begins with Jesus and ends with life change. I was able to navigate to the depths and return for air with a heightened sense of understanding and hope for what can be.
The authors writing style is mostly easy to read with lots of stories embedded along the way to bring real life people into the text. The way the book is written often times will reveal Stephen's character with honesty and transparency. By the time I was done with the book, I felt like I knew the author. I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars.