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What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care?: Answers to the Big Questions of Life Paperback – October 1, 2011
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--Dr. Alex Chediak, Associate Professor, California Baptist University; author of Thriving at College: Make Great Friends, Keep Your Faith, and Get Ready for the Real World!
This book is life-giving. And since God gives us limited years on his earth, it's a book for those who are young to read sooner rather than later! I wish I had had this book forty years ago!
--Walt Mueller, Founder and President, Center for Parent/Youth Understanding; author of Engaging the Soul of Youth Culture
Every time I am with Ed, I feel encouraged, listened to, challenged, and understood. This book does the same thing. He not only helps us deal with the major issues of life, but Ed brings Scripture alive to help us experience God's best for our lives.
--Jim Burns, PhD, President, HomeWord Center for Youth and Family; author of Teenology and The Purity Code
About the Author
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Even more specifically, this book is written for young Christians. It is written for people who trust in the Bible as the inspired and infallible word of God and who rest in Christ's redeeming work on the cross as the answer to their deepest spiritual and relational needs. While Welch diagnoses problems that are universally human and, therefore, universally relevant, those who reject a Christian worldview probably won't be satisfied with his prescription. This is not just another self-help book.
My pride tempts me to say that I read this book simply to preview a potential study for the young people at my church. However, as a chronic people-pleaser myself who was tremendously helped by Welch's other books, When People Are Big and God is Small, and Running Scared: Fear, Worry and the God of Rest, I read this book first for biblical encouragement and wisdom in addressing my own shortcomings. And, despite the fact that this book is written for a demographic younger than myself, I still found a great deal of wisdom between its covers, even amidst all the illustrations about peers, parents, parties and homework.
Welch begins by identifying our tendency to confer God-like status on the people in our lives. This happens any time we measure how well our lives are going by how well people think of us. And it's not just the insecure outsiders who do this, but the self-assured insiders, as well. Using biblical analysis and thought-provoking questions, Welch encourages readers to examine their own hearts and tries to help us discern who or what we worship in place of God. Our problem is when we walk around like cups needing to be filled by others, or, as Welch says, "...when we want to be loved more than we want to love" (25).
After diagnosing the problem, Welch devotes the second half of his book to answering three essential questions: Who Is God?, Who Am I? and Who Are They?. Welch argues that everything we do, think and say flows from our understanding of who God is and reveals what we really think about God, whether we are in a state of loving or despising him. In Who is God?, Welch offers a very accessible and engaging study of the attributes of God, touching on the triune God's holiness, his otherness, his omnipotence and his omniscience. In order to emphasize the power and uniqueness of these attributes, Welch helps us view the creation account freshly, through the eyes of the Hebrew slaves who first heard it. He then presents the Gospel, zooming in on the work of Jesus, the image of the invisible God. Welch's goal is to help us "see everything bigger than we once did" (95). He encourages readers to ponder the implications of the fact that God has drawn near to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ, to reconcile sinners to himself. Welch argues that only in dwelling on this will we be able to think rightly about ourselves and others.
The section Who Am I?, asserts that we are generally people who expect others to love us more than we are willing to love them. When people don't live up to our expectations, we feel depressed, resentful, self-righteous and hopeless. Welch promises that we will be freed from the constraints of others' opinions only when we live and love like Jesus, the only person who truly and consistently "loved the praise of God more than the praise of people" (113). The sting of rejection, insecurity and disapproval will lose its power only when we fear God more than we fear people. Only then will we be empowered to love people the way Christ did, selflessly, generously and without any arbitrary expectations of what we ought to get in return.
In the final section entitled Who Are They?, Welch cites the story of the Good Samaritan to compel readers to "expand the boundaries of [our] immediate famil[ies] so that they include [our] neighbors, which means everyone" (132). Jesus enables us to love our neighbors not simply because he serves as our best example of how to do this, but because our union with him changes our hearts. Only when we, like Jesus, strive to love others more than we expect to be loved will we open to the door to more meaningful and selfless relationships.
This is not yet another self-help book because its goal is not to help us put ourselves first. Welch proposes that what we really need "is to be with something so big that [we] can think less often about [ourselves]" (119). His gospel-centered presentation of who God is paired with his wise insights into the inner-workings of the human heart make this a convicting and humbling read, especially for the person who thinks himself impervious to the opinions of others. Welch proves that we are all more alike than we are different, not just in terms of how we think and act, but in terms of what we really need. What this book demonstrates more than anything else is not just the power of the gospel to save, but the power of the gospel to completely revolutionize our fellowship with one another.
Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance, now and always;
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
It is helpful in that he asks questions that, when I reflect on the answers, I am led to a deeper understanding of myself. In this process I see why I myself care about what people think about me and what common fears I deal with in relation to other people's views or opinions of me.
It is biblical in that he traces our fear of others to a lack of a true fear of God. He shows that when we are crushed by the disapproval of others it is because we are looking to get something from other people. This is namely love and acceptance, and when we can rest in the love and acceptance of God we are not going to be mastered by the opinions of others. He does all this in a way that I think does not bash or guilt the reader for their loving and being mastered by things that are not God. He does this with a tone of hopefulness for change.
Up front, the author states that this is an ageless topic, but also lets us know that he tailored the book toward youth and young adults. It is to this demographic that I highly recommend this book.
promises of God and Jesus, and less on the opinions of other youth. I am only part way through, and as an adult, sometimes feel like I am being preached at. At times, I found myself (as a 40+ yr old adult), wondering how this book applied to me, but was still able to find a tidbit in each chapter.
It seems to be geared toward high school and college aged readers, as many of the examples dealt with high school, youth groups, parent relationships, and friendships.