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Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change

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Paul David Tripp’s masterpiece on ministry will transform how you view yourself and engage with others. God radically changes people, and he offers us the opportunity―and the ability, by his power―to be involved in that change. We can live not just as grateful objects of his love but as effective instruments of his love in the lives of the people around us. Have you been satisfied by too little? Content with small changes in your life and the lives of others? Unsure of how to help others and uncomfortable when you encounter their needs? You don’t need to start with a strategy or technique, Tripp argues―you need a renewed imagination! Only then can you grasp what is real but unseen and live accordingly. The kingdom of God is near, and it takes us far beyond our personal situations and relationships, making ordinary people a part of God’s extraordinary plan for the world. This guidebook shows us how.

376 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2002

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About the author

Paul David Tripp

126 books994 followers
Paul was born in Toledo, Ohio to Bob and Fae Tripp on November 12, 1950. Paul spent all of his growing years in Toledo until his college years when his parents moved to Southern California.
At Columbia Bible College from 1968-1972, (now Columbia International University) Paul majored in Bible and Christian Education. Although he had planned to be there for only two years and then to study journalism, Paul more and more felt like there was so much of the theology of Scripture that he did not understand, so he decided to go to seminary. Paul met Luella Jackson at College and they married in 1971. In 1971, Paul took his first pastoral position and has had a heart for the local church ever since. After college, Paul completed his Master of Divinity degree at the Reformed Episcopal Seminary (now known as Philadelphia Theological Seminary) in Philadelphia (1972-1975). It was during these days that Paul’s commitment to ministry solidified. After seminary, Paul was involved in planting a church in Scranton, Pennsylvania (1977-1987) where he also founded a Christian School. During the years in Scranton, Paul became involved in music, traveling with a band and writing worship songs. In Scranton, Paul became interested in biblical counseling and decided to enroll in the D.Min program in Biblical Counseling at Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia. Paul then became a faculty member of the Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCEF) and a lecturer in biblical counseling at Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia. Paul has also served as Visiting Professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
In 2009, Paul joined the faculty of Redeemer Seminary (daughter school of Westminster) in Dallas, Texas as Professor of Pastoral Life and Care.[1]
Beginning in June, 2006, Paul became the President of Paul Tripp Ministries, a non-profit organization, whose mission statement is "Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life." In addition to his current role as President of Paul Tripp Ministries, on January 1, 2007, Paul also became part of the pastoral staff at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA where he preached every Sunday evening and lead the Ministry to Center City through March, 2011 when he resigned due to the expanding time commitments needed at Paul Tripp Ministries.
Paul, Luella, and their four children moved to Philadelphia in 1987 and have lived there ever since. Paul is a prolific author and has written twelve books on Christian living which are sold internationally. Luella manages a large commercial art gallery in the city and Paul is very dedicated to painting as an avocation.[2] Paul’s driving passion is to help people understand how the gospel of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ really does speak with practical hope into all the things they will face in this broken world. Paul is a pastor with a pastor’s heart, a gifted speaker, his journey taking him all over the world, an author of numerous books on practical Christian living, and a man who is hopelessly in love with Luella.

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5 stars
4,562 (56%)
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2,334 (28%)
3 stars
867 (10%)
2 stars
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1 star
144 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 459 reviews
Profile Image for Natalie Vellacott.
Author 9 books857 followers
February 9, 2017
This book is about Biblical counseling and explains the process for helping people to see themselves and their issues as God sees them in the light of Scripture. I can see how it can be useful and the author obviously has a wealth of personal experience in this area which he is now using to instruct others through his writing. It is a helpful resource.

The author rightly explains that the root of all problem behaviour is sin in the heart. However, he doesn't allow for medical/neurological problems which may contribute to wrongful thinking and behaviour. These can be deeply ingrained and the approach of the author in places is too simplistic/overlooks reality.

For a Christian, balance is needed to ensure we do not place too much emphasis on secular psychology and its solutions, but also where there are medical issues these need to be recognised and treated properly and not just explained away as sin in the heart.

The bottom line is that God can change anyone and deal with any of these issues but how God chooses to work in the life of a person may be different in each case.

Profile Image for Ivan.
656 reviews125 followers
April 21, 2013
This is a fantastic book!

Often times illustrations or stories in a book detract from the overall quality in the book; they are usually comprised of fluff, intended only to add pages to the book. Thankfully, Tripp’s book does not do that. Every illustration powerfully or clearly brought a point or truth home. His illustrations and stories obviously stem from many years of his own personal sanctification journey and also his own ministry to others.

Tripp throughout the book emphasizes the role of ‘homework’ in the task of coming alongside the counseling process in a powerful and transformative way. I very much appreciated this practical insight of assigning ‘homework’ to the counselees. Too often people are under the impression that their meetings with the counselors are the most significant times in their attempts at life and mind renewal.

That, of course, is true in a sense as the counselor uniquely comes alongside the counselee with the searchlight of Scripture and begins to ask the right sort of questions that expose sinful thoughts, attitudes, and such. But the real battle continues (often times in full force) once the counselee leaves their meetings. Throughout the week that individual is confronting his or her struggles at a constant rate.

The astute counselor, then, strategically assigns homework that best suits the counselee given their unique contexts. It puts the responsibility on the lap of the counselee, ensuring that they diligently own the work to which they have already professed commitment to.

Additionally, 'homework' provides a wonderful opportunity for follow-up conversation with the counselor. In other words, the sanctification process is not operating in a vacuum; in real and tangible ways it is occurring within the daily life of the counselee. The homework only serves as an aid and accountability to that end.

Time and again as I read through this book I was convicted with how much I can be selfish in ministering to others. On any given day I can serve others as long as it does not interfere with my hobbies or cross into my comfort zone. It is painful to write those words, but they are true. This book has impressed upon me the reality that personal ministry is exactly that: personal. As Tripp states, “We offer people a living, loving presence that puts real flesh and blood on the presence of the Lord” (131). We are indeed the instruments in the Redeemer’s hands, called to incarnate the presence of Christ in an honest and powerful manner.

Another key insight I gleaned from this reading was the fact that as counselors we are simply in the task of showing fellow sinners what is already taking place in their own hearts. We are not called to be those who stand over people, positioning ourselves as sanctification gurus; we instead are sinners called to minister to fellow sinners as we apply the Bible into the various and often messy matters in their lives.

As I read Tripp’s book, I could not help but pick up on the pastoral tone with which he communicates. There’s an evident love for the Word of God and for people as one reads, which is instructive for me as I seek to minister to others.

I must strive to serve others out of the abundance of my own communion with God as he shapes and transforms my life into the image of Christ.
Profile Image for Lynn Joshua.
212 reviews55 followers
February 10, 2012
I highly recommend it. The author, Paul David Tripp, has a humble attitude, realizing that we are all broken vessels and we need each other for our sanctification. He gets to the root of our human problem by asserting that we are all worshipers - if not of God then of something in His place. We can see how personal trouble and relational disorders come from wrongly-directed worship.

Tripp definitely keeps God at the center of his attempts to help others in need, and does not add to the message of Christ but teaches us rather to apply more of Christ as the only true and lasting solution to life's struggles.
Profile Image for John.
29 reviews
Currently reading
May 31, 2012
Quotes that sturck me as I read:
"We must not offer people a system of redemption, a set of insights and principles. We offer people a Redeemer. In his power, we find the hope and help we need to defeat the most powerful enemies. Hope rests in the grace of the Redeemer, the only real means of lasting change." (pg. 8)

"In rejecting a biblical view of people, the world eliminates any hope of answering the 'what is wrong?' question accurately." (pg. 9)

"Sinners tend to respond sinfully to being sinned against." (pg. 11)

"Sin not only causes me to respond sinfully to suffering, it causes me to respond sinfully to blessing." (pg. 12)

"Independence, self-sufficiency, and self-absorption lead us to think of ourselves first and to climb over the fences between ourselves and our desires." (pg. 14)

"Sin also produces foolishness in us. Foolishness believes that there is no perspectives, insight, theory, or 'truth' more reliable than our own." (pg. 14)
Profile Image for Nia Nimmers.
11 reviews
January 25, 2023
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭1:3-4‬ ‭

This book echoes those verses, Christ is sufficient, His word is sufficient!
Profile Image for Ben Robin.
89 reviews64 followers
July 15, 2017
Tripp presents a compelling, biblical vision for Christian ministry - each member of the local body being used by God to change each other more and more into the image of their Redeemer. Every church member should read this book.

Here are just a few quotes from the book's Preface which summarize the main point well:
* "Many of us would be relieved if God had placed our sanctification in the hands of trained and paid professionals, but that simply is not the biblical model. God’s plan is that through the faithful ministry of every part, the whole body will grow to full maturity in Christ. The leaders of his church have been gifted, positioned, and appointed to train and mobilize the people of God for this “every person, everyday” ministry lifestyle."

* "The paradigm is simple: when God calls you to himself, he also calls you to be a servant, an instrument in his redeeming hands. All of his children are called into ministry, and each of them needs the daily intervention this ministry provides."

* "That is what this book is about: how God uses people, who are themselves in need of change, as instruments of the same kind of change in others. This book’s goal is not just that people’s lives would be changed as they give help and receive it. The goal is to help change the church’s very culture."

* “We could never hire enough paid staff to meet the ministry needs of the average local church."
Profile Image for Trisha.
131 reviews2 followers
March 26, 2013
I LOVED this book. I think almost every page has highlighting or notes of some sort. This book is for everyone, truly life-changing, and I especially found it helpful as a parent. Tripp is so full of grace, and you can't help but feel his passion for his subject and his compassion for his readers.
Profile Image for Sophie Miller.
128 reviews3 followers
September 14, 2020
Should be required reading for all believers, specifically those serving on staff at a church or any type of formal ministry/teaching.
Profile Image for Jerry.
4,617 reviews54 followers
October 4, 2022
I am not a counselor, and don't plan on becoming one, but this book contains wonderful insights on dealing with people and their problems in a Christian way. If you want to be a better friend and helper to those in your church family--and who wouldn't?--this is definitely worth reading.
Profile Image for Brett Mclaughlin.
47 reviews3 followers
October 10, 2010
Every bit of good news must stem from a bad state or situation. News cannot be good if it is not relative to a state that is not good, or at the least, not as good. Humans strive and seek for better marriage, more money, greater happiness; all of these seekings, then, are for improvements in an initial condition. Tripp implicitly acknowledges this when he begins his treatment of the redemptive work in and through humans with an extended discussion of sin.
The gospel saves and redeems people. That is the Christian message. And the gospel is, by its nature and definition, “good news.” If good news requires a relatively worse initial state, though, what is the gospel saving from? Most Christians would point out their personal problems: abusive pasts, issues with anger, chemical imbalances, or consistently hurtful relationships. Tripp digs much deeper, though, and identifies one single common problem that all mankind faces: sin. Before the gospel can be effective good news, the bad news must be acknowledged: sin is present in all humans.
Tripp goes further, though. “Scripture [defines] sin as a condition that results in behavior” (10). Using this definition, there is no ability to shuttle sin into a corner of a particular area of life. Sin cannot be seen as “bad choices” or “trouble with the past.” Instead, sin is rightly pictured as an all-pervasive, all encompassing disease that affects all behavior. Tripp puts it this way: “Because sin is my nature as a human being, it is inescapable” (10). This is the bad news that must be accepted and recognized before the gospel can be seen as good news.
So what is the good news? It must come to us from an external source. "Humans need truth from outside themselves to make sense out of life" (45). This is a monumental statement from Tripp, bearing both spiritual and philosophical ramifications. If humans cannot define truth, then all of life is a decision-making process of the most important degree: who defines truth? There are numerous sources that would claim to provide truth: the news, religions, a pantheon of gods, spiritual beings, fellow humans, even espn.com and the iPhone. If truth must be received from outside of oneself, then the decision to listen to one source over another, or to amalgamate various sources, is the decision to believe one truth--or version of truth--over another.
This can all seem a bit philosophical and heady; theoretical, and best for writing but perhaps for not living. However, there is a practical and essential component of living wrapped up in these realizations. If humans must decide on a particular set of truths to truth, and then choose an interpreter for those truths, then man is deeply dependent upon the claimant and interpreter they choose. The Christian--choosing God for both truth-giver and truth-interpreter--is often inconsistent, believing God for some truths but rejecting him for many others. The pagan--choosing some other religion, and ultimately himself as at least truth-interpreter--must be shown the contradictions in their own beliefs. This all must occur before a particular relationship or need can be addressed. Truth must be determined before lives can be changed.
Profile Image for Shane Williamson.
141 reviews33 followers
July 29, 2019
Perhaps what I am about to say needs to be qualified: this is the third Paul Tripp book I've read this year.

I appreciate Tripp's ministry and I know many speak of how this book and many others have been beneficial, however I seem to struggle to connect with him as an author/reader. I find him particularly wordy and disconnected in his presentation. It's more a stylistic critique than anything.

This book is helpful at times, a few chapters and sections were educational, though for the most part there wasn't anything that I hadn't already heard or read elsewhere. That being said, I realize that this book has served as the bedrock for many other additional resources.

I'd encourage others to read this but it could easily have been 100 pages shorter and more punchy.

Regarding the actual content, this books provides a basic introduction to Christian relationships and how to help others in their Christian walks. It certainly is an introduction and not much more. It's fairly wide reaching but could have spent more time with case studies and not just short stories and illustrations here and there. The other thing Tripp seems to do in his books is present some scary scenario with hardly ever sharing how it resolved (or didn't) or progressed, leaving the reader with some cliff-hangers.

I think if I could have it my way I'd substitute this book for Welch's 'Side by Side' and Powlison's 'How Does Sanctification Work' and maybe also Emlet's 'Prescriptions and Descriptions' (to address the medical side). All three books make up less than this one and would present just as good a picture whilst covering more ground.

Profile Image for Anita.
162 reviews
July 4, 2008
I am actually re-reading this book and am learning just as much this time through as I did the first time through. Any believer, counselor or not, who is personally involved with other believers would benefit from what this book has to say. Paul Tripp repeatedly drives home the theme that we are called to be involved in each other's lives for the glory of God. I especially appreciate the humble attitude Tripp uses when giving examples from his life. It makes him seem so much more real, and makes me believe that I too can be an instrument used by the Redeemer in the life of those around me.

As a counselor, I think this is my favorite book because it helps me focus on making those all important connections with counselees. Often I will reread appropriate sections of the book before I meet with a counselee for the first time. It is more than just a guide book, however. It is a genuine appeal to make the counseling encounter a personal one that is Christ centered, not counselor centered. After all, as Tripp says, we are not what this person needs, God is.
Profile Image for Paul Mackey.
7 reviews1 follower
June 9, 2012
A good book with great insights, but written more like a textbook or a manual than an easy to access read (as I find typical of most of Tripp's writings). This book provided some great insights into the role of our hearts in relational conflicts, as well as what it means to be instruments in God's hands for His work in other's lives. Tripp does a great job of providing a grace centered approach to ministering to others. Perhaps my favorite aspect of this book is the way that Tripp takes passages of Scripture, and then spends an entire chapter unpacking the meaning, and various applications of the text. This is especially true of his treatment of James 4. His chapter on James 4 is one I find myself returning to often.
Profile Image for Bill.
764 reviews74 followers
November 29, 2011
A 5 star book on applying the gospel to everyday ministry to individuals. Paul Tripp combines a thoroughly gospel-centred approach (many of the main points are made via extended exgesis of biblical passages) with the strengths of a 'personal counselling' approach. Probably the most practical / real life book about the gospel that I've ever read, and certainly the most biblical, gospel-centred book on counselling I ever read. I'll re-read this one a few more times in the next few years! 1. Love people, 2. Really get to know people, 3. Speak the truth in love and 4. Help them do something about it.
Profile Image for Brittany.
90 reviews37 followers
September 12, 2020
A valuable, theological, edifying, practical book on Biblical personal ministry. Where we can tend to have vague feelings, trite fixes, and faulty insight into relational difficulties, Tripp provides Biblical categories and hope for the most challenging, messy situations. I appreciated his emphasis on the heart being the root issue of all struggles, while not dismissing the reality of suffering and being sinned against. If you are a Christian, you are someone who is being changed and someone who is called to help others who are being changed. And this book will help you in both of those areas!
Profile Image for Bo Cogbill.
38 reviews4 followers
January 26, 2021
Sooo many extra words...

I want to say up front, I like books with a lot of words, if the author says something. Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands is a fine book, in that the content is ok, but Tripp just seemed to go on and on and not say much. Long, irrelevant illustrations, extended scripture quotations as filler, and sentences that seemed to be a thousand Twitter quotes in a row rather than coherent thoughts made this book extremely cumbersome to read. I've read it twice now, and I don't even know what I'd recommend instead because it feels too scattered to know what to choose instead.
94 reviews
September 4, 2021
Tripp writes in a way that makes me want to be teachable and humble. Also by commencing each chapter with an anecdote on the interactions between persons, including his personal experiences, it is easy to absorb and retain the points that he delivers for that chapter. His “love-know-speak-do” recipe is also very clearly articulated and expanded across the chapters, which at the same time I think will be a useful mantra/approach even if one cannot fully remember the principles that undergird it.
Profile Image for Caroline Cobb.
23 reviews2 followers
December 1, 2021
I really loved this book! Very helpful to remember our role in the lives of others. Humbling to be reminded that I am nothing but an instrument in the Redeemer’s hand! I recommend this book to believers who will find themselves in some form of community/ministry that involves caring for others well (I believe that includes all believers). It was only rated 4/5 because of structure of the book - I might have organized it differently but that is so minor in the grand scheme of things.
Profile Image for Austin Kim.
34 reviews1 follower
May 13, 2021
Lengthy, but for good reason. The theme of the book is that biblical counseling at its core is developing biblical friendships by showing yourself and someone else who Jesus is.

This can feel long, so I would actually treat it as more of a resource than a book to read through on a regular basis. Will definitely be revisiting the things taught through this book again and again.
Profile Image for Emily Schaal.
51 reviews
September 7, 2020
This was the second time I read this book. I love the subtitle - People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change. That's what God calls each of us to be and do, and this books is a helpful guide in learning to do it better.
Profile Image for Christine Hoover.
Author 17 books248 followers
April 28, 2015
This is a really helpful and practical book for anyone who counsels others (not just professionally) and would like to learn how to do it better.
Profile Image for John Yelverton.
4,179 reviews34 followers
August 30, 2014
An incredible read which has such deep and pithy observations on life that it will often cut you to the quick. A great source for those seeking advice and needing to give advice.
July 29, 2022
3.3/5 Don't quite know what I think of this book. There were some chapters I really enjoyed + gained a lot out of, such as the ones on desire and sin --so good! I loved how the beginning focuses on how we are sinners and in need of God, then later shows how God wants to use us to help others. However, there were a lot of parts, such as the application parts and counseling others, that I found either unapplicable or drawn out, and that may just be because I am not an older adult or married. Nothing against the author and there were still lots of great takeaways!
Profile Image for Abbie.
91 reviews
July 22, 2021
Excellent book for believers wanting to help people grow. I liked the model of love, know, speak, do and found the discussion on homework in the appendixes especially helpful.
Profile Image for Paige.
31 reviews
December 22, 2021
I listened to at least the last third or so via audiobook, so I'd love to revisit more thoroughly!
Profile Image for Julia Garcia.
296 reviews67 followers
August 18, 2021
This was another read that I read with my "aunt" for a weekly bible study. Very practical and hands on. I can't wait to implement what I learned.
Profile Image for Rob McCutcheon.
23 reviews
April 24, 2021
So sorry I waited 13 years to read this book! What a treasure trove of understanding and insight to which I plan to regularly return.
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