Anxiety at it’s best is something that can help motivate someone, but in reality, we tend to overdo it. When anxiety hits, we find ourselves fixated on things we cannot control. At it’s worse, it becomes a disorder that physically alters the brain chemistry of the individual, directly impacting their life with significant problems, failed relationships, and a barrier for someone with their faith.
In the spectrum of Anxious For Nothing, this book definitely leans on talking about the “we overdo it” side and not the clinical diagnosis spectrum. Within the intersections of church and mental health, this book looks to take a subset of anxiety and see how our faith can impact it for the better.
I believe it is safe to bet the main audience of Max Lucado’s is made up of pastors, elders, and church leader volunteers. The focus is to look at how faith can impact a culture and culture is struggling with stress.
For pastors who want to talk about anxiety from the pulpit, this is a good first step. The Bible verses are there, you will see some illustrations which you can use. In fact, when I finished the book, I felt like I had been part of a three and a half hour sermon while I listened to it on Audible.
It gives a first look at some of the concerns of what is impacting our community.
What Didn’t Work
As a clinical mental health counselor, the conversations in the book did not go much further than the daily stress and occasion big event. In counseling, we give a diagnosis of Adjustment Disorder with Anxious Mood for people who are in really anxious situations and struggling, but not having endured long term effects of the mental illness. This would be perfect for this individual.
I did get a send of shame and guilt for people who struggle with more severe anxiety disorders. “Pray that your stress will be gone” was one quote from Max. That’s not how this works. Another quote was
“..the most stressed-out people are control freaks. They fail at the quest they most pursue. The more they try to control the world, the more they realize they cannot. Life becomes a cycle of anxiety, failure; anxiety, failure; anxiety, failure. We can’t take control, because control is not ours to take.” For someone with an anxiety disorder, you have called them crazy, a failure, and stuck in a rut.
Further, Max talks in the first half of his book about how people without God dealing with stress are going to struggle because they don’t understand what true hope is. Agreed. But then he proceeds to state that people who try to do coping skills and talk things through are wasting their time. In a couple of sentences, he completely puts down mental health counseling, something many people desperately need.
The Final Score
In some ways, Max did a good first step to bring faith and mental health together. It’s definitely not a topic that can be covered in a three hour audiobook, but it was a first step that most have not taken.
But in many ways, he has also done harm to this relationship for mental health professionals to better collaborate. He has put his own wedge between faith and people who struggle with severe mental illness.
Overall, I have to give the book a 2 out of 5.
What do you think of Max Lucado’s attempt at talking about Anxiety and faith?