“Watch Your Language!”
These are words we say when we hear our kids swear or when we hear adults swear in front of our kids. Yet we shouldn’t just watch that the occasional curse doesn’t pass our lips. We should watch our words to make sure they are a blessing to others.
Joseph Cavanaugh has written The Language of Blessing to help us realize our own gifts and talents and to teach us how to speak words of blessing to others. As a sought after speaker, ministry leader, life coach and he encourages readers to discover who God made them to be. The talents, strengths and passions that God gave us reveal what we are made for. As we begin to learn our shape, we also are freed to bless those around us. Cavanaugh shares vulnerably of his own experience of growing up with an authoritarian father who did not know how to bless his children. As an adult he works with New Life Ministries helping others discover God’s unique blessing for their life.
There are three parts to The Language of Blessing. In part one Cavanaugh describes what the language of blessing is. A blessing is: words of affirmation which solidify identity and give purpose to a person, enabling us to become all that we are meant to be. Parents and friends may speak the language of blessing to us, but ultimately our blessing is a gift from God.
Part two describes the barriers to blessing in our life. These include seeing ourselves as average (because of one-size-fits-all approaches to education and development), the cycle of false identity, self-centeredness, and parenting styles which are either too domineering or permissive.
Part three is where Cavanaugh puts it all together and describes what it means to speak the language of blessing. Those who have received a blessing and live confidently in it are self-aware and non-anxious. This frees them up to affirm others, see their God-given-potential and respond with gratitude.
When I read books like this I have two questions: (1)What insights can I learn from this book? (2) Is this just another positive thinking self-help book? I am happy to report that there was little said by Cavanaugh that I am wary of. He synthesizes much of the literature on leadership, strength building and parenting. He offers sound advice and aims at getting readers to understand where they have been personally blessed; yet his ultimate aim is that when we are secure in who we are in Christ, we will begin to speak blessing into those around us.
So this book is helpful for vocational discernment. There is sound advice and good insight here. Cavanaugh draws generously on Smalley and Trent’s The Blessing, Tom Rath’s Strength Finders, Edwin Friedman’s Failure of Nerve, and even Malcom Gladwell’s The Outliers. These are not ‘new insights’ but Cavanaugh says them sell and synthesizes them helpfully. Of course Cavanaugh’s convictions are also rooted in personal experience and his experience as a life coach and conference speaker. What I appreciated about Cavanaugh’s approach was how careful he was to ground his approach biblically. This allows him to affirm the individual and their worth without succumbing to self-centered narcissism. I give this book three stars:★★★☆☆
Thank you to Tyndale Momentum for providing me a copy of this book through the Tyndale Blog Network. I was asked to write an honest review.