Ed Welch brings to a topic and a particular age-group the Biblical Counseling methodology for which he is known. Following the counseling model of the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF), Welch, a counselor and faculty member there, goes after the idol of the approval of man in order to expose the heart-struggle of inflating the fear of man and undervaluing the fear of God in the life of a Christian. This interactive book focuses on persons ages 15-25 and is more narrative than didactic in style. Rather than focusing on simply changing thought or behavior, Welch tackles this issue by focusing on the heart.
The first few chapters discuss the problem of overvaluing the need of human approval and how it is an epidemic across the lifespan. Next he discusses how this issue relates to the heart of a person by exposing that fear of man is an issue of misplaced worship. He then structures the remainder of the book upon three questions: "Who Is God?", "Who Am I?", and "Who Are They?" This structure allows Welch to apply a biblical understanding of the character and nature of God, a biblical anthropology, and an understanding of who other people are to the issue.
Even though the book has a particular audience in mind, it would be beneficial for anyone wanting to fight against the fear of man. Some primary uses for the book would be counselors wanting an assignment for young adult counselees, student and family ministers wanting a resource for those they are seeking to shepherd, and even parents wanting their teenagers to work through a biblically based resource on the topic. The books lends itself to individual use given its conversational style, but could also be used in small-group formats.
This work brings the approach of Biblical Counseling to a younger population. However, even though this resource does fit within the CCEF Biblical Counseling paradigm, it would not likely be the first book to recommend to someone seeking to understand the biblical counseling model in general. Welch gives good examples in each section, but as the target audience ranges from age 15 to 25, some examples may be less received by one particular subset over another given the diversity of development between those ages. Nevertheless, any reader could glean something from each section.
Welch uses the overarching biblical narrative to discuss the three questions upon which he structures the book.This provides for a big-picture understanding of the topic against the backdrop of Scripture.In his chapter entitled "God Is Holy," he might have added a small description of God's being separate from sin, though the lack of this inclusion does not make the chapter ineffective. In fact the imagery he later uses is helpful when he discusses walking through life "with your shoes off" (p. 99), borrowing from the story of Moses and the burning bush.
Welch's book is a useful, wise, and Bible-rich resource for believers, counselors, pastors, and parents alike. It is bathed in the gospel of grace and its heart-transforming message. Welch continues to strengthen the counseling and ministry world with his writing, and this one is worth having on the shelf.