More than words

Last week I was asked this question (for a website on self-development),

“(In 50 words) What’s the best book you’ve read on self development and how is it different from the rest?”

I thought of the self development books I’d read.

Books with helpful insights on mental health issues.  Books offering practical advice about relationships.  Books with tips on managing emotions or improving my health.

Books by lay people and books by medics.  Books for groups and books for individuals.  Books that have been published in the last few months; books that are recognised as classics. Books that claim to have an answer to life’s challenges.  Books that say there’s no such thing.

I’m thankful for these books  – and many of them have really helped me. Some have helped me modify my thinking.  Some have helped me change my behaviour.  Some have shown me ways of managing how I feel.

Some have told me to accept myself, when I’m desperate to change.

Some have told me to change, when such change seems impossible.

Some have said, ‘give up’ and some have said, ‘fight’. Some have said ‘let go,’ and some said ‘hang  on.’

But none of them have changed me.  The core; the engine-room; the heart or soul, the bits my brain can’t reach.


Except one.

A tale of different worlds – one unseen and one that is to come; one that’s been and one that is.

A manual for living, that says we cannot keep its rules.

A true story, with a king and a princess, a knight and a dragon.

A love letter; that transforms all who read it.

A book that tells us that we’ve got everything wrong – and that’s really good news.


This is what I said:

The best book I’ve read on self-development is the Psalms. It’s the song-book of human experience; and it covers the full range of our emotions; from grief and joy to despair and doubt.  It doesn’t give us answers or a programme to follow; but points to the God who joins in in our sufferings at the cross and then rises again to bring us new life.  In him we can die to the people we were and become the people we were created to be; not because we try harder, but because He carries us.

Here’s a link to the finished article.


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4 thoughts on “More than words

  1. Good answer.
    I love the psalms too. I love to think of all the other desperate believers throughout the ages who have found encouragement there.

  2. for some really strange reason (though I should have known better, but in my defence it was instinctive :p), I thought your answer would have been “A New Day”, oops ??

    But o-kay, that reminds me that I haven’t yet ploughed through the Psalms myself (though I gladly would any epistle – quite sure I’ve been taught sufficient Bible-handling skills to read them independently at a laypeople level :p) .. but then again that’s also cos I’m not very good even at reading/understanding regular poetry to begin with. So uh I blame my lack of poetry handling skills. In general.

    Any helpful guides to reading the best self-development book in the world, that you would recommend? :-) (cos, gulp, do self-help books to help people read The Best Self-Development Book In The World exist? Hahahaha but also on a serious note … I mean it!)

  3. Hi Dee – I honestly think the Bible! Proverbs is pretty good for practical wisdom, but then so’s Exodus…and Matthew..and…!! Anyone got any recommendations?

  4. oh no am I phrasing my question badly! I genuinely meant it as per, would anyone have a recommended resource that would help me read the Psalms on my own! Because precisely, it draws from Exodus and Matthew and all the other books of the Bible, but and it is not linear as per a narrative (which gives context v nicely), nor does it draw common themes in the same way that each author of the Epistles covers uniform themes across their epistles, etc.

    Like … idk Psalms seems like a random collection of emotive poetry, but who knows who’s saying what, and why they’re feeling/saying the things they do.

    Like in the same way that John Piper explains various parts of Scripture in his Look at the Book series, or St Helens’ Bishopsgate has their commentary series, that sort of thing! (argh did I inadvertently make my comment sound like a trolling one … because for serious, I don’t think, as far as I can recall, that my church has done any part of Psalms on the pulpit/yet!)

    I feel like I inadvertently sound like I’m making a joke now – but I’m not :(

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