BOOK REVIEW – Resilience in Life and Faith

Tony Horsfall and Debbie Hawker have written this helpful guide to maintaining resilience in life and faith particularly in relation to cross-cultural ministry. Tony Horsfall is a freelance writer and retreat leader based in Yorkshire while Debbie Hawker is a clinical psychologist and mission partner who supports and debriefs cross-cultural workers.

The authors quote Carr’s specifically Christian definition of resilience:

“Resilience is having strength to fulfil the call God has given us, even when it will be painful and difficult. Resilience is staying fixed on a higher purpose, motivated by love of God, our neighbour, and the world, and supported by friends. While others let us down, we are carried by the one who called us.”

Watching your SPECS

This concept is unpacked through the book by using the SPECS model to assess the different aspects of resilience. Individual chapters are devoted to the following:

S – for Spiritual

P – for Physical

E – for Emotional

C – for cognitive and creative

S – for social and systemic

Each chapter on these topics is interspersed with examples of resilience from the Bible which help to align these aspects with Biblical principles. There are also helpful pointers near the end of each SPECS chapter about fostering resilience in children.

The book concludes with Appendix A, which allows the reader to assess their own resilience in each of these areas and consider how to improve it, and Appendix B, in which the reader can recite a creed with statements taken from the Bible which foster resilience.

‘we are carried by the one who called us’

‘It gave me good pointers about how to foster resilience in my own children’

Building resilience

As a reader, I found this book very helpful. The systematic way that it moved through different aspects was helpful for me in thinking about my own response to challenges in ministry. It also gave me good pointers about how to foster resilience in my own children. When coming to assess my own resilience through the Appendix at the end I was encouraged by how resilient I was in certain areas and challenged about how I could foster greater resilience in my life. I would recommend this book to anyone who is seeking Bible-based resources for assessing and improving their own resilience in ministry and in fostering it in their own family and team-mates.

The reviewer currently serves in a church-planting team in North Africa. For more book reviews, see our mission resources page. 

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