Review: Speaking Truth in Love by David Powlison

Speaking Truth In Love by David Powlison was a good book. It is 193 pages long with short chapters. I think it is worth a second read through. I challenged my perspective of the church and understanding of counseling. He takes a broad view of counseling.


"This book is on how we are to live together.... This book is also about how we can live.... This book is also about how we will live.... This book is about how we treat each other, how we work together, how we help each other." p. 1

"Speaking Truth in Love is the second in a series. It builds upon Seeing with New Eyes.... This second book is about 'counseling'  the process of love. Part I [Chapters 1-9] will wrestle out how to speak the truth in love in order to do counseling ministry well. Part II will hammer out ways to shape and reshape communities of faith in order to do church well. In other words, this second book describes living right. We will glimpse essential dynamics of relationship and sketch the shape of communities that pursue such relationships." p. 2. 

"Speaking Truth in Love seeks to recapture how the dynamics of fruitful mutual counseling characterize a church that functions as a community" p. 3


  1. Suffering and Psalm 119 (This is David Powlison's favorite chapter)
  2. The Facts of Life
  3. Hearing the Music of the Gospel
  4. How Healthy Is Your Preparation? 
  5. What Questions Do You Ask?
  6. Think Globally, Act Locally?
  7. Illustrative Counseling
  8. Talk Incessantly? Listen Intently!
  9. How Do You Help a "Psychologized" Counselee?
  10. What is "Ministry of the Word"?
  11. Counseling Is the Church
  12. What Will You Ask For? 
  13. Pastoral Counseling
  14. Counseling Under the Influence of the X Chromosome
  15. Do You Ever Refer? 
  16. Why I Chose Seminary for Counseling Training
  17. Affirmations and Denials
The book ends with an essay "Companions on a Long March".


  • "The Christian life is a lifelong 'race of repentance.'" p. 36
  • "You and sin must quarrel, if you and God are to be friends." (J.C. Ryle) p. 36 
  • "Effective counseling moves towards substantive change" p. 53
  • "I need reminding. Otherwise the sinful inertia of my own tendencies may hijack the ministry goals set by the Great Shepherd of the Sheep." p. 53
  • "Repentance is not merely the start of the Christian life; it is the Christian life." (Joel Beeke) p. 65
  • "When you counsel (or preach) in great and good generalities, people will nod, but they rarely change. Jesus works for a turn-the-world-upside-down reorientation and redirection. Ministry needs to know the big picture, but it really gets involved in the rush hour traffic. Change takes place in the watershed moments and decisive incidents of everyday life." p 66 
  • "A talker who never stops to listen is in trouble." p. 85