When it comes to today’s volatile and divided ministry environment, these words stand out as particularly relevant: “Speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15).
Some conversations have a lot of truth but very little love. Other conversations have a lot love and affection, but very little truth. The biblical ideal is that we have both things.
It is for just this reason, that I am excited about the new book by Cheryl Marshall and Caroline Newheiser, When Words Matter Most: Speaking Truth with Grace to Those You Love (Crossway, 2021).
Cheryl is the director of women’s ministries at Founders Baptist Church in Spring, Texas. Caroline is the assistant coordinator of women’s counseling here at RTS Charlotte, and wife to our counseling director, Jim Newheiser.
One of the things I appreciate about this book is that it reminds us of the deep power of words. Words can do amazing things. They can build up, or they can tear down. They can heal, or they can wound. They can illuminate, or they can obfuscate.
Of course, this should not be surprising because we serve a God who is a God of words. He is not a silent God but a speaking God (Heb 1:1). In the beginning, he spoke and the world came to be (Gen 1:1). God’s word is living and active, sharper than a double-edged sword (Heb 4:12). Or as Jeremiah 23:29 reminds us: “Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”
The focus of the book, however, is not on all the words we speak, but the words we speak in individual conversations. It helps the reader think through how to engage in the myriad of one-on-one conversations that ministry brings. Honestly, I don’t know many books on this important topic—which makes this one special. There are plenty of books on preaching and teaching, but very few on conversations.
Thus, a book like this is particularly relevant for those who are interested in the area of counseling (see more on the RTS Charlotte counseling program)