Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Exceptional Life by Stephen Arterburn

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.

Stephen Arterburn is founder and chairman of new Life Ministries and host of the Christian counseling talk show, New Life Live! He has been featured on many national TV shows and other media outlets. Steve founded the Women of Faith conferences and is the author of more than eighty books. Steve and his family live in Fishers, Indiana.

Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing Group), 211 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Bethany House for the purpose of this review.

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