Flourish: How the Love of Christ Frees Us from Self-Focus (Book Review)

At only six chapters long, Flourish by Lydia Brownback may be one of the shortest Christian living books I have ever read, and yet it took me about three weeks to finish it. This was not because the book dragged or was boring, believe it or not. In fact, the reason it took me so long was the exact opposite: this short book is packed with so much biblical, relevant, helpful, applicable information that I read and reread each chapter many times, highlighter in hand, before I actually got to the end. In a time where self-help and personal development are popular ideas and themes of well-known books, Brownback will help turn your focus off yourself and toward Christ as you read this book.

In the introduction to the book, the author says, “We want to see how wrong teaching about God can give us wrong ideas about God and how these wrong ideas keep us from flourishing.” This is the heart of the book. Most of us can read non-Christian “self-help” literature and see that it’s not lining up with what God says in the Bible. But what about books, speeches, or articles labeled as Christian? Brownback goes on to point out that “any teaching that sets self-love as the highest good is false teaching, and we are susceptible to it because it appeals to that deep yearning for affirmation we feel at our very core…it just feels so right.” When I read that, I agreed wholeheartedly, and I am guessing you did, too. I just didn’t realize how much this was a problem in my own life.h. Brownback shows in each chapter different ways we can be fooled, so that rather than focusing only on Christ and his love for us, we begin to focus more and more on loving ourselves.

The chapters each focus on freedom from different ways self-love and self-focus show themselves in daily life. They look at self-consciousness, self-improvement, self-analysis, self-indulgence, self-condemnation, and self-victimization, all using biblical references and truths, small anecdotes, and practical applications to show the way to freedom and flourishing. To help in your reading and studying, there is an extensive study guide in the back with lots of room to write.

Flourish was easy for me to read, but also hard for me to read at the same time. It exposes the heart and how much self-love and focus is there. However, it is a Christian’s calling to put off sin and put on holiness no matter how hard it may be (Ephesians 4:22–24), and Flourish will help you do this. I would dare say there is no better book for any woman to read to help keep the focus away from self and re-focus back on Christ.


Originally published October 2020, Vol 79 No 10