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When People Are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependency, and the Fear of Man (Resources for Changing Lives) Paperback – June 1, 1997
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From the Publisher
Overly concerned about what people think of you?
All experiences of the fear of man share at least one common feature: people are big. They have grown to idolatrous proportions in our lives. They control us. Since there is no room in our hearts to worship both God and people, whenever people are big, God is not. Therefore the first task in escaping the snare of the fear of man is to know that God is awesome and glorious, not other people.
Welch uncovers the spiritual dimension of people-pleasing and points the way through a true knowledge of God, ourselves, and others.
"Need people less. Love people more. That's the author's challenge. . . . He's talking about a tendency to hold other people in awe, to be controlled and mastered by them, to depend on them for what God alone can give. . . . [Welch] proposes an antidote: the fear of God . . . the believer's response to God's power, majesty and not least his mercy." --Dallas Morning News
"Refreshingly biblical. . . . brimming with helpful, readable, practical insight." --John F. MacArthur Jr.
About the Author
- Publisher : P & R Publishing; 32132nd edition (June 1, 1997)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 256 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0875526004
- ISBN-13 : 978-0875526003
- Item Weight : 9.6 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.52 x 0.69 x 8.42 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #11,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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- Welch writes about the true nature of God vs. our nature. We tend to think of God as if he's man-like (probably because Jesus became a man) while he is completely other than (holy). Knowing who God truly is will help us to make other people's opinions of much less account.
- We should not focus on ourselves so much, but focus on loving God and others. Much of the time what we do is self-serving, even if it's cloaked in serving others. We like to get our significance from other people when it should come from God only.
Some things that are concerning:
-Welch argues that we have no psychological needs. Our needs are either spiritual or physical. I wasn't clear whether or not he was arguing that all emotional needs are spiritual or if he would lump them in with psychological needs and say they don't exist. He says we have desires, for instance, to be listened to by a spouse, but that's not a need. Well, it's a need if you want a good relationship! I understand that if each person is focusing on loving the other, and doing what's best for that person, then we won't have anything to "need". That's true, but unrealistic. Welch needs to explain better what to do with good "desires" that, in my opinion, for all intents and purposes, become needs if we want to have good relationships. There is very little practical advice anywhere in the book.
In a footnote on page 162, he writes that a baby's need for affection in order to thrive doesn't mean humans have psychological needs, Welch writes, "It would be more accurate to say that we do need people in order to live. We are creatures who rely on other people every day. This, however, is different from putting our faith and trust in them."
I disagree. We need to put our faith and trust in others; that's part of relationship. We trust only God for salvation, but we must trust others to live in healthy families and community. It sounds like he's saying that giving babies affection is simply to keep them alive. As if it has nothing to do with emotional/relational connection.
- Welch encourages us to forget about "perceived" needs and instead, think about meeting the needs of others. In the story about Nancy and her counseling, the counselor avoided looking into her childhood relationships that might have affected her and her "perceived" need to be heard. Her job was just to give up the need for her husband to listen to her - just forget about it. She didn't need to explore why she was feeling the way she was.
If we have a longing to be heard, for instance, and feel that we aren't being heart, it could be because a parent never listened to us. What we experience in childhood hard wires visceral emotional reactions into our brains. Once these are understood and healing of that wound takes place, then maybe we can let go of that desire to be heard. this book was written in 1997, before modern neuroscience discovered the importance of brain development in small children. Maybe Welch needs to update the book?
-There was little sense of empathy anywhere in the book. Welch related a story where he was feeling bad after a doing a class where he felt he did a poor job in teaching. He came home sad and his wife told him to "Stop it!" She rebuked him and told him that his students needed him. He wrote that he was glad she wasn't sympathetic towards him at that moment. He was being selfish and he needed to get it right!
A good old-fashioned rebuke is very valuable at times, and I've benefited from a few myself. However, rebukes are best done in humility and followed by love and empathy. It's the Lord's kindness that leads us to repentance. There was little sense of love anywhere in the book.
-Welch writes that we don't have a soul, but doesn't give enough info to support to his stance on this major theological issue. Where do emotions, thoughts, ideas, etc. fit into that picture if you say that we have no psychological needs and no soul separate from the spirit? If we have no soul, where emotional healing taking place? The spirit? Maybe he's saying we don't need it? He doesn't make that clear.
Overall, I think this book does more harm than good. Welch provides a great basis about why we should not fear man, but gives very little in the way of helping us get there, except just to say, "Stop it!" Another reviewer mentioned the Bob Newhart scene where Newhart decides to give that advice no matter the issue. It's hilarious. Welch's view seems to be similar.
If you buy this book, be aware that it's one of those where you eat the meat and spit out the bones, but I don't recommend it. Dr. Curt Thompson has some great books on shame from a Christian perspective (which is closely related to the fear of man) that are far superior.
Most people have a very basic understanding of the fear of man. We experience one form of it often when presented an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel. Even those that boldly stand on the corners and preach to the passing crowds will often tell you about the butterflies they get prior to starting their proclamation.
However, this book will open your eyes to a number of other ways you may fear man. I did not understand that much of my life was controlled by that fear. I am grateful for the people that kept on pressing me to read this.
It is hard for me to read most books cover to cover. It's easy to read three or four chapters, and then skip to the end to see what the final diagnosis or recommendation is. This is not a book you should or will want to do that with. I am starting through it for the third time soon because it is so fantastic. Everything he teaches is put on the bottom shelf and you don't have to be a scholar to understand it, but there is so much packed into this that you either need to go super-slow and meditate on both the Scripture he references and the point he's making, or go through it once thoughtfully and come back to study the points that pertain more to your situation.
Either way, this is a very worthwhile study. I can't recommend it enough.
We live in a world and culture in which people place far too much emphasis on what others think. We often hold back and refuse to put ourselves out there or try new things because we fear failure and being mocked and being isolated from a group–simply put, people and their opinions of us control us. Ed Welch wisely helps readers see just how prominent the "fear of man" issue is in our lives. He illumines us to the reality that we have made people big and God small. However, he doesn't just identify a problem and bring it to the forefront of readers' minds; instead, he gets to the root of why we make people "big" in our lives, using biblically informed principles. Further, he offers biblically based solutions to the many ways "fear of man" affects us and our lives. Ultimately, Welch contends that the way to combat "fear of man" is by fearing God. He does not mean fear God in the sort of "God might strike me dead at any second" kind of fear. Rather, he means learning to view God with the holy reverence and awe that the Sovereign of the universe deserves. Understanding that God is the Almighty demands respect and obedience. People are to delight in obeying the Lord, which results in the fullness of joy at His right hand and frees us from being enslaved to the opinions and standards the ever-changing culture.
Since I believe almost ever person today deals with the fear of man in one way or another, I highly recommend this book to all people seeking to live a life to the glory of God alone.