Opening the pages, my eyes moved slowly across the words as the thoughts began to process in my mind. I knew it was not by accident that I was reading it. Nor did it take me long to realize the reason this book was chosen for the Canadian Christian Writing Awards.
“More Questions than Answers,” by Eleanor Shepherd is certainly not a light read. It is a book rich with knowledge and full of encouragement on how to become a better listener and through skillful listening becoming better at not only sharing but discovering more about our own faith.
I am a communicator and after a few hard knocks, finally realized being a communicator isn’t as much about speaking and writing as it is about listening. Listening to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit and to the heart cries of those whom we are ministering to. Realizing this, I have struggled with how to develop listening skills. Then Eleanor’s book was in my hands.
There are so many truths written in this book! Ones which made me take a hard look at where I was in my relationships and where I want to be. Some of those truths seemed to jump out of the pages and hit me square in the face. Truths I need to hear and skills I long to develop in order to genuinely accompany others in this journey of life. As example would be, “We point out to unsaved people that they are separated from God because of their sin. Though this is true, the idea we sometimes communicate is that we are the good people and they are the bad people. That implication makes it difficult for them not to become defensive.” Wow, isn’t that statement enlightening as well as true?
The book, broken into three different sections is written in such a way that the reader can begin in whatever section she/he needs to improve on. Each section then has five chapters to strengthen the skill she is teaching. The section headings are as follows:
- The Listening Process
- Discovering and Sharing Faith
- The Source
Eleanor eloquently shares from her own life experiences and others as well, as she introduces us to transformation listening and spiritual accompaniment. These words even standing alone, describe the type of relationships she encourages us to develop. Relationships which are authentic, caring and draw others to our Lord. The final section enforces we can’t be effective in transformation listening and spiritual accompaniment unless we are deepening our own relationship with the Holy Spirit. This section is rich with ideas and instructions to help us become better at coming alongside others, provide a listening ear and loving heart. And trusting the Holy Spirit to work in both the heart of those we are accompanying as well as our own.
The one regret I have after reading this book, is that Eleanor and I do not live closer to one another. I undoubtedly realize Eleanor would be a wonderful mentor!
Eleanor Shepherd spent thirty years in ministry after ordination as an officer of The Salvation Army. Along with her engagement in pastoral ministry and administration, she contributed over 85 articles, mainly to Salvation Army publications. These were distributed in a variety of periodicals in Canada, the USA, France, Germany and New Zealand.
Her degree in Psychology equipped her for learning the listening skills that she uses in spiritual accompaniment relationships. A venue where she has been able to apply them is in the leadership of College and Careers Bile study groups. She undertook this leadership in Montreal and Toronto along with Glen, her husband of forty years, who was also a Salvation Army officer. One of these experiences led to the conversion of a young Moslem and Eleanor published his story in Power for Living, the Scripture Press adult take home paper. Their College and Careers group field-tested the Bible study book created by the Shepherds, Why Families?
Prayer has played an important part in Eleanor’s life. For fifteen years, she has been a
member of the Intercessors, an international prayer ministry begun by Catherine Marshall. She has
done workshops and seminars on prayer and created a personal prayer support network for the
ministry of her husband and herself.
This network proved particularly valuable to the Shepherds when their 30-year-old son, John broke his neck in a car accident six years ago and became a quadriplegic. John was a student at Harvard Business School at the time and the Shepherds were serving with The Salvation Army in France.
Prayer and writing are intertwined for Eleanor in that she is a member of the prayer support
team of The Word Guild, a professional writers’ association to which she belongs. In addition,
she was for many years a prayer partner for Lin Johnson, the organizer of The Write-to-Publish
conference in Wheaton.
As well as writing, Eleanor along with her husband has spoken at many conferences,
particularly for clergy in Canada, the USA, France, Belgium, Switzerland, South Africa, Haiti and
As with each book I receive as part of the CWA Review crew, if you post a comment below your name will go into a drawing to receive this book. I will be sending out a new copy. The one I read has been highlighted, read and reread! The winner is going to want their own copy.
I received a free copy of this book/Ebook/Product to review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations. I am part of The CWA Review Crew.