As Christians, we often picture desire as a vice — a seductive, fleshly, sinful part of us that is attempting to tear us away from God’s authentic plan for our lives.
Then we read verses that say, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” If a good God is granting faithful children the longings of their heart, can the desires really be wrong?
In her book, Teach Us to Want: Longing, Ambition & the Life of Faith,” author Jen Pollock Michel writes a practical theology of biblical desire. Deeply rooted in scripture, as well as rich in examples from literature and modern life, the beautifully written book is loosely structured around the Lord’s Prayer.
Michel travels through the prayer that the Lord taught his disciples to pray, and guides our understanding that while desire can be corrupted, it is “good, right and necessary. It is a force of movement in our lives…. Growing into maturity doesn’t mean abandoning our desires, but growing in discernment of them.”
One chapter I really appreciated is “Be My Neighbor,” a chapter on community, specifically community found in the church. Many Christian books disregard the importance of the church in spiritual growth, but Michel argues for the “mysterious, unparalleled holy energy when believers gather together for church” even when it is messy and even when we are hurt. Jim and I deeply believe in the power of church, which is helpful when you are pastoring in a local body, but this chapter still served as an encouragement.
Teach Me to Want would be an excellent book to read with your community. Each chapter ends with reflection questions, and there are additional discussion questions at the end of the book.
We had the opportunity to get to know Jen and her family this past summer, and she is as authentic, engaging and lovely as her writing. I am not the only one to commend this book. The book was selected by Christianity Today as the best book of 2015 in the “Christian Living” category, as well as the magazine’s overall pick for the best book of the year.
All is well,