A Christian Counselor’s Recommendations

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Personal development is a popular topic in our society. While most folks shop online for the latest book releases, there is still a healthy section at Barnes & Noble dedicated to the pursuit of self-help. The Christian world also participates in this, using books and other media to foster a healthier relationship with God. But with all of the opinions available, it can be difficult to determine which books are really the best personal development books. Who is promoting productive personal development skills, and who is simply trying to make money by selling a brand that might work for a slim percentage of the population?

In this article, I present a list of personal development books that I personally endorse. I have read all of these books and find each of them invaluable in their own ways. The authors come from various backgrounds and use various methodologies, but I have found that each of them contribute to personal development in healthy and fruitful ways.

The Gift of Being Yourself by David Benner

This book captures the importance of knowing yourself in order to have an authentic and full relationship with God.

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown, Ph.D.

PAMSHA 20151125 Books-01Brené Brown has been in the limelight over the past few years. She has several TED Talks, has been on national and international tours, and has also been featured on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Her work displays courage and challenges her readers to engage in bravery that lies far outside of our comfort zones. I would encourage you to read any and all of Dr. Brown’s books. She has articulated the fear that most of us carry, namely, that we are not good enough.

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend

The title of this book always makes me nervous. The word boundaries can be so daunting. I think this is mostly because we don’t like the idea of boundaries. They seem rigid and unforgiving. Drs. Cloud and Townsend explain the need for boundaries in a clear and easy manner. While some of the material is difficult to wrestle with, I believe each person on the planet should read this book in an effort to love both themselves and others well.

Invitation to a Journey by M. Robert Mulholland

Personality traits are a key identifier in understanding who we are. Mulholland utilizes the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator as a platform for navigating spiritual formation and understanding how each person uniquely interacts with their faith and spirituality. I have found this to be a useful tool in helping people understand themselves better and also understand their preferences regarding spiritual practices.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

PAMSHA 20151125 8278309284_5c87d9a0bd_oHaving spent three years in the concentration camp, Auschwitz, Frankl speaks to finding meaning in the direst of circumstances. In Auschwitz, he noticed that some of his fellow prisoners were not only surviving the horror of their situation, but actually growing as a result of it. By overcoming his own hardships, he was able to find meaning and purpose in order to survive what most others did not.

Christian Counseling and Personal Development

This list is by no means exhaustive and I could go on for pages detailing the best personal development books that I have found both personally and professionally beneficial as a Christian counselor. These titles are a great starting point for beginning and/or continuing on the path of personal development. Together with reading, Christian counseling can be a great asset in the pursuit of personal development. Utilizing the counseling relationship as a sounding board for how others experience you, what you have to offer in relationships, and how your past experiences have shaped you can be invaluable on the path to self-discovery.


“Diary 1,” courtesy of Leyram Odacrem, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Books-01,”courtesy of Christopher, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Autumn Tree Farm and Road,” by Charles Knowles, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0)


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