Westheights Church Library review of the book “Safe People” by authors Drs. Henry Cloud & John Townsend. Reviewed by Dan Jennings.
Several years ago I attended a workshop for small group leaders. During the workshop the leader stated that if you could only buy one book about leading small groups “Safe People” would be that book. It was rather strange advice. This book is not about leading small groups. If fact it only mentions small groups in passing. So why should a small group leader need to read this book? Why would anyone need to read this book?
Most of a person’s moral and spiritual growth takes place through interaction with others. This interaction can exist in the family, community social activities, organizations and voluntary groups or committees. Unfortunately many people are afraid of getting involved in anything because of past experiences with unsafe people. This book is about character discernment. Learning to spot and understand what makes a person safe or unsafe. “Safe people are individuals who draw us closer to being the people God intended us to be. Though not perfect, they are ‘good enough’ in their character that the net effect of their presence in our lives is positive. They are accepting, honest, and present, and they help us bear good fruit in our lives.” (pg. 11) Sadly many of us are better at picking out a good car than we are at picking people to be open with. As a result we wind up wounded by the very people we thought we could trust. The people we thought our secrets, the innermost parts of our lives, the real “us”, were safe with were very unsafe. Betrayed, angry, bitter we vow to never let anyone else in. Yet deep down we need someone to share our lives with, to love and be loved, to know and be known. These people do exist. They are safe people. The object of this book is to help you identify and find the safe people you need in your life.
This book is divided into three parts. The first part is about Unsafe People, how to recognize and identify those people that are not safe. In this section they list the personal and interpersonal traits of unsafe people and then finish off with a chapter on how we lost our safety. Each of us has at some time has been hurt by someone or some group. This leads to the next section.
Section 2 deals with the question “Do I attract Unsafe People?” The answer seems to be that yes, some of us do attract unsafe people. This does not mean we are victims, rather that we have learned to choose unsafe relationships. This section helps answer the question of why we choose those relationships.
The final section deals with Safe People, why we need them and most importantly, how we can become safe people for others.
If you lead a small group, or have ever been hurt by someone to the point of being wary of sharing anything about yourself, you should read this book. I would highly recommend you read it with someone else, maybe as part of a small group or part of your house church. We all need others we can share our burdens and life with!