I think Christians want to thrive in their spiritual lives. But there are obstacles and pitfalls that make growing spiritually at times difficult. Sometimes experiences are hard to understand and we wonder where God is in our lives. Sometimes we are just at a loss as to the next step in spiritual and emotional growth.
The Gaultieres have developed a model of the stages of faith, drawing from their years of providing therapy and spiritual direction, along with extensive research and field testing. They give the characteristics of and insights into each stage, relating personal experiences and information from other authors. They suggests steps to grow, soul care practices, and spiritual disciplines to help move to the next stage. They provide questions so readers can identify what stage they are in.
I appreciate this book. It helped me identify my spiritual stage and explained many of my past spiritual experiences and current spiritual longing. I appreciate that spiritual growth is not linear but moves like a spiral, going through the various phases at a deeper level each time.
The insight I appreciated the most was distinguishing desolation (spiritual experience of feeling God's absence) and depression (a psychological problem). While they can affect each other, I appreciate that they are not the same. Those who have experienced the Dark Night will also appreciate the distinction. Another appreciated insight was about the last stage and the information on being a mystic. The Gaultieres draw much from classic devotional authors, like Madame Guyon, Teresa of Jesus (Avila) and Frank Laubach who wrote about the deep experience of union with Christ.
This is a good book for Christians who want to understand their own spiritual life while gaining insights on the spiritual lives of others. There are resources available, such as small group leader's guide and free videos at https://www.soulshepherding.org/.
Read an excerpt here.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Drs. Bill and Kristi Gaultiere have been counseling and ministering to people for thirty years. Bill is a psychologist who has served in private practice, co-led a New Life psychiatric day hospital, and pastored churches. Kristi is a marriage and family therapist who has also served in private practice and church ministry. Together they are the founders of Soul Shepherding, a nonprofit ministry to help believers discover their next steps for growing in intimacy with Jesus, emotional health, and loving relationships. Bill and Kristi live in California. Photo credit: Briana Gaultiere
Revell, 240 pages.
(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)