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Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  1,224 ratings  ·  212 reviews
Flourishing people are strong and weak. Two common temptations lure us away from abundant living--withdrawing into safety or grasping for power. True flourishing, says Andy Crouch, travels down an unexpected path--being both strong and weak. We see this unlikely mixture in the best leaders--people who use their authority for the benefit of others, while also showing extrao ...more
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published February 11th 2016 by IVP Books
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Merritt Onsa Simon, I'm not sure I entirely understand your question, but I can tell you that the Gospel (Jesus died for our sins, rose again and rescued us from t…moreSimon, I'm not sure I entirely understand your question, but I can tell you that the Gospel (Jesus died for our sins, rose again and rescued us from the spiritual death we deserved so that we might be a flourishing presence here on earth) is a deeply woven theme throughout the book. (less)

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Barnabas Piper
Apr 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'd give this book six or seven stars if I could. It is profound and formative, a rare book that gives a livable paradigm. Crouch is equal parts teacher and inspirer with a lot of craftsman thrown in to make the work beautiful. It is a book for leaders, parents, students, spouses, and more. But it is a not leadership, parenting, calling, or marriage book. It's a paradigm for living a truly meaningful life in each of those contexts - in all contexts. I cannot recommend it highly enough. ...more
Mark Jr.
Mar 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, 2018, 2016
I loved Crouch's two major previous books, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling and Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power. I felt this one was also very profitable, though not quite as deep as his other two. All the same, I'm planning a second read-through. I want to get this. I think he's on to something big, something abidingly useful and true. What really made me think so was when he finally got to showing how this thing—embracing a life of vulnerability on the one hand and auth ...more
Tim Hoiland
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: faith, 2018
Vintage Andy Crouch here. The book’s main premise – that we are called to flourishing, which necessarily includes authority AND vulnerability – is simple yet profound. 2x2 charts FTW!
Kyle Alt
Maybe I'm missing something, but Crouch's points seemed to border on the obvious. He does a decent job framing three strength/weakness imbalances (what happens when we're too much of one and not the other..) before presenting the fourth ("correct") option. From my perspective, though, if you've spent significant time reflecting on the suffering servant nature of Christ as well as his victory, then there's not much that will seem new to you in this book. ...more
Alex Etheridge
Mar 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
This is my first introduction to Crouch, and consider me a fan. I liked his framework, that true flourishing comes from meaningful action (authority) that takes risk (vulnerability); yet, I didn't find myself sure how to actually accomplish that from reading his book. ...more
Annie Monson
Dec 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, christian
This began as a book about flourishing, and ended as a book about leadership. Because good leaders are on a mission to bring about flourishing in others.

This was my first time reading something from Crouch; I will absolutely read more!
John Alsdorf
May 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As is true of each of Andy's books, this one is replete with provocative insights. Highly recommended. ...more
Katie Cheng
Jun 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
A helpful read on considering the unseen and overlooked facets of true leadership. Crouch helped to untangle my assumptions of what leadership does entail and what it does not. He lays out a kind, freeing, challenging view of leadership that accounts for sacrifice and vulnerability, following in the ultimate example of Jesus. Yes, this book is about leadership, but for me it functions more as a mechanism to consider true humility and the path to human flourishing, in my own life and in the world ...more
Tyler Simonds
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I appreciate a book that is fairly short--particularly if that book is non-fiction. Crouch does a brilliant job talking about true flourishing. How can we help others find life through meaningful action and vulnerability? It's the only way to be. ...more
Mar 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Summary: Explores two qualities that we often think opposed to one another and argues that strength and weakness are paradoxically related and that human beings flourish to the extent that they can appropriately exercise strength (authority) and weakness (vulnerability) together.

We often tend to think of strength and weakness, authority and vulnerability as mutually exclusive qualities or at opposite ends of a continuum. Yet the apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:

But he said to me, “My
Christine Hoover
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A thought-provoking little book, one I found especially helpful regarding leadership.
May 13, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2021-books, ruf
I feel like the first few chapters were really good, but didn't understand the necessity of the last half of the book ...more
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Andy Crouch starts with a simple idea, presented as a 2x2 matrix—sort of like those that you might encounter in a business school classroom. Vulnerability and authority are often positioned in opposition to one another: to be vulnerable is to lack authority, and to have authority is to lack vulnerability.

Crouch argues that vulnerability and authority are not in opposition to one another, but are rather complementary. In fact, while vulnerability without authority leads to suffering, authority wi
Nate Clark
Aug 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
A decent book about the balance between authority and vulnerability in leading, and following the true leader Jesus who was the perfect balance of both. With numerous examples and grace, crouch gives a great guide to leading in any vocation.
Joe Haack
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This deserves 10 stars. Reading this was one of the better uses of my time. Will be using/rereading/handing out this small book the rest of my life.
Justin Lonas
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Short and simple, but deep.
Andy Huette
May 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
The book reads like a 3-star, but the thesis is a 4-star. Crouch clarifies the necessity of living with appropriate authority (which he defines as the capacity for meaningful action), and with true vulnerability. Vulnerability without good authority leads to suffering and authority without vulnerability leads to exploitation. A healthy mixture of vulnerability and authority is necessary for human flourishing and Crouch illustrates his thesis well. It's an easy read that gave me a helpful paradig ...more
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely fantastic. Read it! Short, sweet, but absolutely full of helpful insight to understanding paradox. Early on Crouch briefly talks about parenting as an example. Those brief pages alone were far better than most "parenting" books I've ever read.

We tend to pit things against one another, and Crouch delineates a clear and helpful way to hold two seemingly contradictory statements in both hands.

(Petty comment: For some reason I have a personal distaste for the word "flourishing". I don't
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very helpful book. He describes how to pursue flourishing by living not on a continuum between strength and weakness, as though they were opposites, but in one of the four quadrants formed by placing strength and weakness on an x and y axis. The idea is a pursuit of both authority (strength according to our design) and vulnerability (risk/chosen "weakness"). He describes the other 3 quadrants as authoritarianism, suffering, and withdrawing. Helpful and visual description of Jesus' kind of leader ...more
John Elliott
Feb 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
In “Strong and Weak,” Crouch addresses a question I’ve been wrestling with for as long as I can remember. What does it look like to simultaneously embrace our God-given authority AND genuine vulnerability? Can we be strong and weak at the same time, or as others have put it, humble and hungry? There is no simple answer to this question, and that’s what I like about this book—Crouch doesn’t go for the simple answer. But he does offer valuable insights in his characteristic thoughtful, measured to ...more
Sam Bratt
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a solid book that shows the genius of "and" between the power/authority and the weakness/vulnerability. The quote of the tyranny of "or" and the genius of "and" has stuck with me. The quadrants that he uses are a helpful guide throughout the book. It confirms for me the importance of vulnerability even though it is downplayed by society at large. We need to be vulnerable with one another for real flourishing to take place. Vulnerability is a strength rather than a weakness. ...more
Andrew Johnson
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Strong and Weak are two terms you don’t typically see together. But Crouch shows how you need both to flourish in life. He demonstrates how we often view authority and vulnerability the wrong way by typically putting emphasis on one above the other. Overall, I thought he did an excellent of showing how to lead well and am looking forward to thinking more about the concepts.
Paul Elliott
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
(Audiobook) Insightful and challenging. Book aims to help us understand the importance of strength and weakness to true flourishing. So many helpful thoughts on parenting, video games, social media, work, disability, leadership, race, and success. Highly recommend!

"Flourishing comes from being both strong and weak.
David  Schroeder
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: faith
I was asked "how would I recommend this book" and I struggled to think about the way to describe it. Ultimately, Andy Crouch thinks and writes in a way that requires deep reflection. While this is a short book, it requires a lot of time to reflect, discuss, and respond with action. In short, read with caution. ...more
Allie MacPhail
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thoughtfully written this book intrigued me. Pushing past the overwritten you can succeed in life by_______(full in the blank) theme Crouch outlines how we can flourish in this life but the answer is not easy. It involves embracing our suffering and tending to our vulnerability and authority. I really liked this book !!!
Aaron Matthews
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a practical, valuable book and one I'll refer back to several times. The paradox of strength and weakness; authority and vulnerability are discussed in detail, but with some pretty profound and applicable examples. I learned a lot and have already been having some meaningful discussions with several people about the ideas Mr. Crouch laid out. ...more
Merritt Onsa
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
A profound read for anyone in or out of a leadership role who seeks to live for the flourishing of others and the world! This is one of the best books I've ever read on leadership if only because it actually has the potential to change the way I lead and think about leadership. Thank you Andy Crouch! it was excellent! ...more
Rob and Liz
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My favorite book from 2018 so far. Practical and easy to read. Just read it. You will be glad you did.
Travis Wentworth
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Give me more and more Andy Crouch and I'll be good to go. His words are a blessing and I always appreciate a little Harry Potter and Wall-E references along the way. ...more
Claire Brear
Jul 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
The author provides a simple yet profound framework for thinking about so many areas of life. Thoroughly recommend.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

For twelve years Andy was an editor and producer at Christianity Today (CT), including serving as executive editor from 2012 to 2016. He joined the John Templeton Foundation in 2017 as senior strategist for communication. His work and writing have been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Tim

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  Jordan Morris is a comedy writer and podcaster whose credits include @Midnight, Unikitty! and Earth to Ned.  The sci-fi comedy Bubble is his...
30 likes · 9 comments
“Brew coffee or tea, sit with a friend and ask them questions—questions just one step riskier than the last time you talked. As you listen, observe the flickers of sadness or hope that cross their face. Try to imagine what it must be like to live their story, suffer their losses, dream their dreams. Pray with them and dare to put into words their heart’s desires, and dare to ask God to grant them.” 10 likes
“If you want one last picture of authority and vulnerability together, laughter will do the trick. To laugh, to really laugh out loud, is to be vulnerable, taken beyond ourselves, overcome by surprise and gratitude. And to really laugh may be the last, best kind of authority—the capacity to see the meaning of the whole story and discover that our final act, our only enduring responsibility in that story, is simply celebration, delight and worship.” 5 likes
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