A few months ago, I received a pre-release copy of “The Language of Blessing.” I could hardly wait until it was released to write this review. Every parent, teacher, Christian worker and leader needs to read this book! Reading it you will discover how to identify your own gifts and talents, and then learn how to pour them out to bless others.
In the book, author Joe Cavanaugh III, employs his unusual ability to unearth and simplify profound biblical truths to provide us with a much-needed tool to affirm and celebrate others as uniquely gifted members of the Body of Christ.
He invites the reader to join him on a journey; a journey that leads to a healthy self-awareness, a biblical affirmation of the gifts and talents of ourselves and others, and an appreciation of the rich diversity found in the Body of Christ.
The journey begins with a clear, biblical definition of blessing. He points out several truths related to blessing, not the least of which is all blessings originate from God, and we are blessed so we can bless others. It is the affirmation of these blessings where the language of blessing becomes critical. As Joe says, “God’s original plan was for His blessings to first be acknowledged by our parents. However, in this fallen world there are few perfectly functional families.” Therefore, God uses other people along our journey to speak the language of blessing to us, and to affirm God’s unique blessings for us.
Drawing from his own experiences, Joe weaves together the Hebraic principle of blessing with some of the most important sociological research of the last twenty-five years, to provide us with a practical approach to self-awareness and to the skills needed to speak the language of blessing to one another.
He also identifies two significant barriers to affirming God’s unique blessing for each individual: “inflated self-esteem,” and “radical individualism.” Self-esteem and individualism in and of themselves are not problems. When they are pursued and promoted apart from authentic self-awareness, they have the potential to become excessive, and ultimately self-destructive. Healthy self-esteem and mutual interdependency on the other hand, lead to discovering who we truly are, and how we might use our gifts and talents to bless and benefit others.
One of the most insightful sections in the book is the author’s discussion of the cycle of false identity in chapter five. The cycle begins with a lack of self-awareness. When someone fails to appreciate their own giftedness they tend to minimize it, dismissing it as nothing special or noteworthy. This minimization then leads to projection. For example, a parent who excels in a particular skill or ability may think his children should also excel because, “anyone can do something as simple as that.” Children who feel judged for failing to live up the parent’s unfounded expectation easily become trapped in a cycle of false identity, always trying to live up to the expectations of others rather than discovering their own unique mix of gifts and talents.
The cycle continues and becomes more ingrained when judging and labeling follow minimization and projection. Parents who project out of their lack of self-awareness often judge and label their children without realizing what they are doing. Judging and labeling may sound something like this: “Don’t be so lazy. I know you can do if you just try harder.” Labels often become self-fulfilling prophecies and the child loses sight of his true sense of identity. When that happens, he is unable to live an authentic life. Instead, he spends his life trying to become what others expect him to be, rather than what God intended him to be.
This is a powerful, “must-read” book for parents!
The author suggests various on-line assessments to help discover your unique talents, gifts and character strengths. In addition, the application activities at the end of each chapter are excellent tools for use, either individually or with a group
In short, The Language of Blessing gives us a practical resource tool to identify and appreciate our own unique personalities, and to discover how to recognize and affirm the uniqueness of others around us – in our family, our workplace, and our faith community.
Reviewed by Larry Doyle