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How People Grow: What the Bible Reveals About Personal Growth Hardcover – 1 Nov 2001

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan (1 Nov. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310221536
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310221531
  • Product Dimensions: 16 x 3 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 476,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


Cloud and Townsend, clinical psychologists who are the Gold Medallion Award-winning authors of Boundaries, attempt in this book to chart personal growth from a biblical perspective. Rather than suggesting that real growth happens only to Christians, they argue that most effective therapeutic methods, even those that are ostensibly secular, use biblical concepts. As such, they look to Scripture for the very best strategies for spiritual and emotional growth. While they are critical of a one-size-fits-all approach to human suffering, they do prescribe a combination of prayer, Bible study and regular contact with a growth groupvirtually every problem they address. The growth groups they describe are populated by healthy, vulnerable people who are willing to confront each other lovingly and own up to mistakes and failures. Cloud and Townsend argue persuasively that such groups facilitate dramatic changes in individuals' lives, but leave the logistical problem of finding such evolved folks to the reader. Perhaps the most radical message of the book is that failure is the norm, even for the most devout. Not only do the authors repeatedly give examples of the best Christians committing the worst sins, but they also insist that such wrongdoing never warrants condemnation from God or other believers. Instead, they argue, sinners must experience total acceptance and love before true repentance and change can occur. This solid, Bible-based argument against guilt and for grace is a powerful elixir for evangelicals who all too often hear the opposite message. Publisher's Weekly --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

In the spring of his sophomore year in college, the future Henry Cloud had envisioned for himself dissolved into questions too pressing to ignore about his career path and his relationships. This time of personal turmoil set him on a path of inquiry and discovery into the heart of the Bible—a journey that Dr. Cloud and his partner, Dr. John Townsend, have taken together through the years. What they found out about how God produces change and growth in our lives did more than surprise them. It has formed the bedrock for their entire approach to counseling.

In How People Grow, Drs. Cloud and Townsend give you age-old keys to growth from the Scriptures, with life applications that may be different from what you’ve always thought and were told. Whether life is going well or whether you’re struggling in some area, the insights in this book are essential to progressing spiritually, relationally, and emotionally. How People Grow shows you why all growth is spiritual growth, and how you can experience such growth in ways you never thought possible.

Our desire to grow runs deep. Yet the issues in our lives and relationships that we wish would change often stay the same, even with our best efforts at spiritual growth. What does it take to experience increasing strength and depth in our spiritual walk, our marriages and family lives and friendships, our personal development—in everything life is about? And how can we help others move into growth that is profound and lasting?

In How People Grow, counselors and Gold Medallion Award-winning authors Henry Cloud and John Townsend address our gut-level issues with insight and hope. This book will do more than revolutionize your understanding of Christianity—it could very well change your life.

How People Grow is the result of the authors’ own journey of discovery, personally and professionally, as they began to compare various "Christian" approaches to growth with what they found really works—and what the Bible really says. Unpacking the practical and passionate theology that forms the backbone of their counseling, Drs. Cloud and Townsend shatter popular misconceptions about how God operates and how growth happens. You’ll discover
· What the essential processes are that make people grow
· How those processes fit into a biblical understanding of spiritual growth and theology
· How spiritual growth and real-life issues are one and the same
· What the responsibilities are of pastors, counselors, and others who assist people in growing—and what your own responsibilities are in your personal growth

Shining focused light on the great doctrines and themes of Christianity, How People Grow takes you to the heart and the power of faith. It shows why all personal growth is spiritual growth—and best of all, it helps you understand the Bible in a way that will help you head with confidence down the high road of growth in Christ.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Ms J Evers on 13 May 2011
Format: Paperback
We are reading this book at my prayer group and even though we haven't finished it yet, we are already learning so much. While going over many seemingly basic points, the authors bring to light so many principles for healthy, mature growth, providing examples, advice and encouragement. One thing we all appreciated was how Biblically based this book is. Everything they say is based on the Bible. We are finding so much to think about and each one of us has found areas in which we need to grow and develop. Highly recommended reading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J J FRANKLIN on 23 Feb. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the best Christian books I have ever read, and I must have read hundreds!
I liked it because it gets away from cliches, and deals with real facts. That Christians are not necessarily amazing saints, but that they are often sinners with very real problems.
It has many illustrations that are very true to life.
I would compare it to 'The Calvary Road' by Roy Hession, but is a much deeper book which packs a big punch.
I would recommend it to anyone for whom life is OK on the outside, but is really struggling inside.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ms. A. Mellor on 11 April 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Growth is a challenge to everyone. This book is really helpful and encourages one to face personal issues. Helpful for anyone who wants to move forward with God.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this book useful in reflecting on my own spiritual growth but also in supporting others in their journeys. I like the blend of theology and psychology.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 132 reviews
72 of 74 people found the following review helpful
Good Book For Those Interested in Spiritual Growth 8 July 2003
By Michael Taylor - Published on
Format: Hardcover
While "How People Grow" concentrates on a small group setting, the book is also valuable for the individual person struggling with spiritual growth.
Among the many interesting points the authors describe include:
1. We have to give up our self-sufficiency and submit to God's rule in our lives.
2. Humility is an essential trait for bearing pain and we are created to be dependent on God and others.
3. We are responsible for submitting our will to God's will.
4. Guilt is inwardly focused while godly sorrow is focused on how we have hurt others.
5. Grief is an essential part of spiritual growth.
6. Psychology is to used only to support, not supplant, the Bible.
7. We need to show people that change is not just for religious reasons, but as the way to a better life.
8. God has a special tenderness towards those who are needy and brokenhearted.
9. Life works much better when we surrender lordship to Jesus.
10. Excellent points on dealing with rebellion and overcoming temptation.
Additionally, the book stresses the importance of being accountable to safe people who are interested in our spiritual growth and are not out to just judge others.
The book is highly recommended for either the individual or small group leader interested in facilitating the spiritual growth of others.
I believe the book would have been even more valuable if more text had been dedicated to developing strategies for finding safe people to confide in and some specific steps to facilitating growth. In other words, many principles were stated but fewer strategies were mentioned. For example, the tips for growers and facilitators at the end of every chapter could have been more specific (what questions to ask, what specific steps can you step to help those hurt by distorted Bible teachings, how can you teach the value of godly sorrow, etc.).
The complaint aside, I highly recommend the book!
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Back to the fundamentals 19 Feb. 2002
By M. Holt - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In the short time I have seen this book pass through several hands, I have seen it change lives. My wife has used it to understand and overcome a stalled relationship with her mom. My Salvation Army friend says it is essentally the same approach used by them to treat addictions and alcohol abuse. In short, it is an excellent presentation of two basic truths:
- A personal relationship with God, through Christ, is the necessary first step for spiritual growth...which is the only real growth.
- All growth after that first step is in relationship with others.
If anyone is looking for an in-depth understanding of why they can or cannot overcome personal limits, this is the best resource I've seen. And if you follow John Townsend or Henry Cloud's work, this is a decent summary of all they have been teaching over the years.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Important reference work 20 July 2005
By book lover - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
How People Grow is an easily accessible, Biblically-centered, psychologically-deep, and thorough overview of the growth process. I have read through this book twice and refer to it sporadically to refresh my memory on various parts of the growth process and, in my work with college students, urge them to read the book. I have found that living out and sharing its insights has helped me in every area of life, from becoming a more effective evangelist to developing stronger work habits. My main challenge in reading it is owning up to how misguided my understanding of the growth process has been, how I have subsequently misled others, repenting of these mistakes, and seeking to think and live differently in the future. It is a book that speaks to deep issues in a grace-filled but challenging way.
32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
True Spirituality 3 Sept. 2003
By Joseph Dawes - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The authors may have influenced my thinking and life profoundly in the 5 years I have come to listen to and read them, but there was no way I would let anyone get away with clunky spiritual assertions if there were any.
But I didn't have to as there weren't any in 'How People Grow'.
Now this is difficult for me. Cloud and Townsend have themselves suggested and promoted that if we agree with someone about nearly everything, then there is probably something wrong.
I would in an instant be flame them, but 'How People Grow' just keeps getting me to appreciate and honour God more and more as well as walk in truth and grace that all I can do is thank God it was written. (I will the flak to the so-called heresy-hunters.)
From the first day 2 years ago, this book has always managed to to point me back to a God of loving and truthful holiness, grace, acceptance, unconditional love and majesty.
They write about the same Christian God who has been misrepresented in the legalistic and 'holier-than-thou' evangelical and Charismatic circles, and the One skewed beyond recognition by the liberal camp.
Much of what I read in their books and listen in their messages hark to the works of Henri Nouwen and Philip Yancey in the spirit and tenor of the themes.
'How People Grow' is ultimately about accepting that we desperately need God and His resources and His ways to accomplish life as He has planned it for us. People play an integral part in God's plan for us.
Also, without humbly asking each other for help and support, we negate and cut-off a crucial resource of God to our detriment.
'How People Grow' is already the best devotional in my room among an impressive array of old trusted standards and it has spoiled me. I won't be able to read anymore "you-better-comply-or-God-will-be-mad-at-you" books. Neither the "look-at-me,aint-i-great-and-blessed, it-was -just- God- and-me-all-the-way" offerings.
Thank God for tender mercies
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Insightful viewpoint, very interesting 27 Dec. 2004
By Harold McFarland - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book can be summarized as a Biblical based approach to understanding personal growth and how that relates to spiritual growth. Two psychologists, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend examine the personal growth process and point out how that process is found within the pages of the Bible. With that personal growth process as the starting point they then show how personal growth is in fact spiritual growth. This is one of the best books on personal growth that I have read. How People Grow is highly recommended to anyone seeking to change their life, get out of the rut of stagnation, or move to a happier place in their life. It is also recommended to Christian counselors, Pastoral counselors, and others involved with helping people.
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