Ortberg - 4-MAT - - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED READING!
Every chapter in this book confronted and encouraged me in some way. I related to so many of the examples used by the author and I felt grateful to know I am not alone in these struggles. Most powerful to me was the section about Mabel (pp. 22-25). Last week I had several "OFU" days - days when I just feel Old, Fat, and Ugly - which is unusual for me as I have become far more accepting of my single status in life, but last week was really hard. Additionally at that time, I was engaged in a blog communication defending my contention that, contrary to REBT theory, people "need" love and acceptance. Reading about Mabel really opened my eyes and convicted my heart of the petty, self-centered thinking I had been engaged in. Through Mabel's story, I realized that we really don't "need" human companionship or love or acceptance - all we really need - all I really need - is a deeply intimate relationship with my Lord.
A second section that struck home was the story of Hank, specifically as it related to the lack of expectation for change. My dad is a "Hank" and though I and others in our family still pray hopefully for change, I don't think any of us really expects it anymore. Through the years we have come to a complacent belief that "he is what he is" and we have forgotten that he was created to be so much more - that he is eternal splendor in the making. I needed this reminder.
I appreciated every page and every section of this book. The only problem I have with it is that I think I will have to read it again and again until I get all the principles solidly planted in my brain. It is not a book of "do this for 5 minutes a day and you can be spiritual." Rather, it is a practical guide to a spiritual lifestyle. In fact, because of the negative "check it off the list" connotation associated with the word "discipline," the subtitle "spiritual disciplines for ordinary people" might have been better phrased, "aspects of a spiritual lifestyle for ordinary people."
As a result of reading this book, I have several new perspectives on life and I believe a much better perspective of future clients. Through my education thus far, it has been emphasized (and rightly so) that, as Christians, we need to view our clients in the light of Scripture - the Imago Dei. Ortberg's quote of C.S. Lewis (p. 17) brings this to a whole new level for me. Clients are either "everlasting splendors" or "immortal horrors" in the making. It is my job to encourage transformation to the former from the latter. This is eternal work we are engaged in.
Before reading this book, I would have automatically encouraged my clients to a specific set of "spiritual disciplines" - i.e. read the Bible 5 minutes a day, pray 5 minutes a day, and so forth - the standard measurements for spirituality so popular in our religious culture today. Though these things are not wrong, per se, now I will be far more sensitive to my client's temperament, gifts and season of life and will endeavor to wisely help them to develop their own unique spiritual lifestyle.
On a personal level, I intend to incorporate every principle discussed in this book into my own life. There are so many valuable concepts and principles in this book that I believe will help me cease to measure my spiritual life by tasks and begin to see it grow through internal changes. I have some weeks coming up when I will not be taking classes and I am anxiously awaiting that time so I can re-read this book more slowly and begin to determinedly put into practice the principles and concepts therein!