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The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  2,415 ratings  ·  226 reviews
Recipient of the Award of Merit in the Personal Growth/Individual Category of The Word Guild 2005 Canadian Christian Writing Awards! "Grant, Lord, that I may know myself that I may know thee." Augustine Much is said in Christian circles about knowing God. But Christians throughout the ages have agreed that there cannot be deep knowledge of God without deep knowledge of the ...more
Published March 6th 2004 by InterVarsity Press (first published February 6th 2004)
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Jan 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Those who grew up with me may remember peers who were trying to "find themselves", which usually involved painful introspection, psychedelic tripping, or hitting the road Jack Kerouac-style (or all three). David Benner's book is in some sense about finding our true selves. Benner argues that the knowledge of self and the knowledge of God walk together. The danger is, and especially for religious folk, that we craft a false self the usually reflects our own judgement of what others (or God) want ...more
Sep 17, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2010-book-list
Great little book about self-discovery, identity and authenticity. Some highlights:

"Christian spirituality has a great deal to do with the self, not just with God. The goal of the spiritual journey is the transformation of self. This requires knowing both our self and God. Both are necessary if we are to discover our true identity as those who are in Christ.

In all of creation, identity is a challenge only for humans. A tulip knows exactly what it is. It is never tempted by false ways of being.
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A small book with quite a lot to think about. I appreciate that this book differs from most 'How to Know God' books that I've read by presenting fresh ideas. Brenner explains how knowing God and knowing self go hand in hand, and includes some useful reflection exercises to do. This is a book that I can see myself coming back to.
Jun 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A small book with a lot to think about. Finished but getting ready to read it again. Such a fantastic book on identity.
May 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Favorite Quotes:

"(The real me)...I continually confuse it with some ideal self that I wish I were." p. 61

"I seem to be programmed for selfishness and egocentricity, not love. If I am honest, I must admit that my motivation is never as pure or noble as I wish it to appear." p. 64

"The basic question we must ask is whether we are prepared to be OTHER than our image of our self." p. 77

"We are not our own origin, nor are we our own ultimate fulfillment. To claim to be so is a suicidal act that wounds
Greg Grunau
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Benner roots our perspective of ourselves deeply in God's perspective of us, and then helps us to look at how we live "false" selves a lot of the time ... and how to get out of that trap and live out of God's perspective instead. This is really about receiving God's love for us more deeply than we could imagine was possible, and then in that place, learning to love and accept ourselves as we are, and then finally we'll be ready to follow Him out of our "false" selves and more and more into the ...more
Jul 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2014-reads
I was a bit concerned when I began this book that it was going to promote a habit of navel-gazing and self-absorption, but because of the summary on the back cover and my previous experience with another of Benner's books, I gave it a go. I am very glad I did. Basically Benner's is encouraging the reader to know God more deeply and then, in the security of that relationship, face his/her true self. He shares several meditative practices that aren't at all "hocus-pocus" and which I hope to ...more
Rod White
Feb 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: prayer
To know myself I must know God. Benner's straitforward style and succinct outline makes this a must-read. It is like a series of quotables on spiritual development. I hope no one misses it. It is not an anecdotal approach. It is heart-felt and self-revealing withot being self-referential. It is refreshing to have someone with an evangelical understanding write about spiritual depth.
Joel Ken
Feb 11, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Whatever is good about this book - and there is a little bit of good - is completely undone by how bad it is.

His interaction with scripture can be summed up in three words: Highly speculative eisegesis. That was painful to sit through.

His main premise of the book could have been posted on a long blog, or maybe a journal article (if it would qualify - it's not that researched in terms of peers).

The worst aspect of this book is that it's highly repetitive. His main premise is repeated in every
Claire Johnson
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I think the epigraph by Thomas Merton that opens the book sums it up well:

“There is only one problem in which all my existence,
my peace, and my happiness depend:
to discover myself in discovering God.
If I find Him I will find myself
and if I find my true self I will find Him.” (1)

I absolutely loved this book. Benner took very high and lofty ideas and made them personal & practical. I wanted to eat it all up in one sitting (it’s a short book) but I forced myself to take it in small bites. I’m
Joel Sam
Nov 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian-living
Benner discusses an oft-neglected topic in the evangelical church: the importance of self-discovery. All too often the Christian narrative is to neglect self-awareness in favor of spiritual disciplines that focus attention on God. While knowing God is important, Benner underscores that knowing one's self is key to understanding one's relationship with God, and how his image can be reflected. Benner calls on tools such as the Enneagram and contemplative meditation to help the reader understand ...more
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
A wonderful guide and justification to the idea that spiritual growth requires self-reflection and self-knowledge. While many Christian use their faith to justify not examining their selves, the result is usually stagnation and perpetual immaturity. In the tradition of Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr, and others, Benner explores how to understand our false self and how to make peace and discover our particular true self, the self God sees and who he created us to be. Though he does not shout this ...more
May 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
It hurts to let go of our “carefully cultivated false self” and reading this book can be painful, in a needed & restorative way. I read this book with a small group and was so glad I did. It’s a small book that at first sight seems like a quick, easy read. However, there are single sentences I’ve been thinking about for many days. It’s a jam packed 124 pages.
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: faith
This is a book that should be revisited many times. It would be good for a group study as well
Lots of helpful exercises and examples.
Any Christian who wants to know more Christ better and is interested in doing that through knowing who they are to be in Him should read this book.
Brad Linden
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
A short, helpful book on learning to believe that God was intentional in how he made you. The method he suggests for "spending time with Jesus in scripture" has been a good practice to have in my spiritual disciplines "backpack". I'm always a sucker for any Christian book that backs off of the idea that the ideal Christian is a BOLD EXTROVERT.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
I appreciate how this book enabled me to consider my relationship with God and who I am. I have not figured it all out, but I am working towards doing so.
Robert Durough, Jr.
Fluff. Would likely be more helpful if condensed into a pamphlet leading the reader to more helpful resources.
Terry Watson
Oct 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Incredibly wise counsel for those of us on a spiritual journey and extremely thought provoking.
Andrew McCoy
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
For some reason, I was hesitant to read this book. It was recommended to me by a friend and mentor after I explained to him that I didn't really know what I wanted to do with my life. I admitted that I was sort of lost. I had just closed one long chapter of my life and was opening a new chapter that no one else had written for me. I waited for some direction, some pearls of wisdom from one who had navigated these shallows years before with apparent skill.

I encountered this book as a result of
Mar 01, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: christian
This would be five stars if it were 2 chapters, but at book length it is super repetitive and falls short. Sometimes less is more.
Jan 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It is often the shorter books that stay with you the longest. This book was incredibly thought provoking and really changed the way I view both myself and my relationship with God. Definitely a book to use a journal with.
Jason Kanz
Mar 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, 2018
The Gift of Being Yourself (2004) by David Benner is a useful little book for those interested in understanding themselves. Benner is a professor of psychology and spirituality who is interested in understanding more than just behavioral change. In this book, he explores John Calvin's dual maxim that as Christians we must come to know God and come to know ourselves. Although this book dedicates a chapter to the former as a necessary requisite for the latter, the majority of the book is committed ...more
Hannah Christmas
This was a fantastic book that will be revisited many times. It isn't necessarily a "how-to" kind of book, although it does provide some guidance on unmasking yourself and finding your identity in Christ. But it is more of a reminder of who Christ is and who that makes us to be. It is a light to shine on the areas of our lives and personalities that we prefer to hide because that isn't who we want to be. Benner nudges us in the direction of revealing those areas so that we can accept them as ...more
Nov 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
This was a short book that focused on the interplay between getting to know yourself and getting to know God. I didn't get a lot out of the book, probably because it is short and because I've already been hearing and thinking a lot about the true self/false self and self-awareness issues for a while now. The book reminded me to spend more time meditating on gospel stories and to not take myself too seriously, but it didn't expose me to anything that I hadn't already been thinking about a lot. It ...more
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was almost put off by the cheesy title, but I'm SO GLAD I read this book. This is one of the best Christian resources I have ever encountered. It's just over 100 pages. It's stunning. The author writes on personality and faith from a psychological perspective.

One of my biggest struggles with my faith is the feeling that my personality and my passions are somehow not right or not useful for serving in church. This book helped me to feel that God wants to enrich and emphasize my uniqueness, not
May 08, 2009 rated it it was ok
A confusing, convoluted read.
Craig Prather
Aug 20, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book on how to build your relationship with Christ while at the same time working on one's own sanctification.
Daunavan Buyer
This book is exceptional. Every Christian should read and take time to reflect on this book. I have read it 3 times and each time it deeply speaks to me.
Benner begins with a quote from Thomas Merton:
There is only one problem on which all my existence, my peace, and my happiness depend: to discover myself in discovering God. If I find Him I will find myself and if I find my true self I will find Him.

We often hear the dictum to "know thyself" or "follow your heart," but how on earth do we turn inward and know ourselves, from a Christian perspective? This little book explains how, helping us to turn inward, evaluate our heart and emotions, and in
Nathan Powell
Feb 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I was recommended this book by a friend. I don't disagree with the premise, that we know our true selves only in the light of knowing and experiencing God, but there were too many issues to make this a worthwhile book.

1. Catholic undertones. The author seems to be Catholic, the man who wrote the forward is Catholic, and the enneagram has Catholic roots...and has issues.

2. Benner needed to be clearer about sin in our "true selves" needing to be dealt with, and otherwise an emphasis on knowing God
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Christian Mom Reads: March Group Read 1 12 Mar 03, 2014 03:28AM  

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David G. Benner (PhD, York University; postdoctoral studies, Chicago Institute of Psychoanalysis) is an internationally known depth psychologist, author, spiritual guide, and personal transformation coach. He currently serves as Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Spirituality at the Psychological Studies Institute, Richmont Graduate University. He has authored or edited more than ...more
“Some Christians base their identity on being a sinner. I think they have it wrong—or only half right. You are not simply a sinner; you are a deeply loved sinner. And there is all the difference in the world between the two.” 14 likes
“Christian spirituality involves a transformation of the self that occurs only when God and self are both deeply known. Both, therefore, have an important place in Christian spirituality. There is no deep knowing of God without a deep knowing of self, and no deep knowing of self without a deep knowing of God. John Calvin wrote, “Nearly the whole of sacred doctrine consists in these two parts: knowledge of God and of ourselves.”3” 6 likes
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