SoulTalk by Dr. Larry Crabb

Notes from the Book SoulTalk by Dr. Larry Crabb

1.      The Soul Talk Revolution

1.1.           Speaking Words of Life to Each Other

·              We cannot experience the love and joy of real life until we’re connected to another at the level of our soul. We cannot know the freedom to be who we truly are until we yield who we really are to another and experience that person’s acceptance.

1.2.           Learning to Speak SoulTalk

·              It’s time to put the center in the center. Coming together at the level of soul with the supernatural power supplied only by Jesus.

·              That’s Soul talk – speaking whatever is truly alive in us into another and accepting whatever is truly alive in another when it is spoken into us

·              SelfTalk is the natural language of every person ever born, except Jesus. It’s the language of self-protection and self sufficiently and self-absorption. It is our social language, our religious language, or political language, our business language, our relationship language. It comes out of our efforts to adjust to this world, to make it a better place, to get along comfortably in it, to keep ourselves happy and fulfilled and safe and to help others feel better about themselves and about their lives. It speaks death and smothers souls. It’s the language we all speak naturally and will continue to speak all the way to our grave – unless the Spirit of God intervenes and we respond.

2.      We Need a New Way to Relate

2.1.           TheOld WayIsn’t Working

·              Two good friends, having a conversation that frustrates us both – a conversation at two levels, one spoken and one unspoken. Unspoken were all the thoughts and feelings inside us that we dared not say. Spoken were the words that we hoped would make our point and keep the conversation – and our friendship – going.

·              A few hours before he died, Jesus asked his Father to make the people who would follow him “as unified and together as we are .. then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you’ve sent me” (John17:22-23)

2.2.           The Destructiveness of Self Talk

·              We hid from each other what felt most real in us because we thought that sharing it would have harmed our relationship. Authenticity, when all that we can see to “authentically” share with another is natural rather than supernatural, severally damaged relationships. Souls are hurt when people are authentically natural. It’s all SelfTalk, authentic SelfTalk with destructive power.

·        We were each aware of only natural thoughts and feelings in our sol, so in the name of friendship, we put a positive spin on what was going on inside, and out came another variety of SelfTalk. Call it socialized SelfTalk.

·        What we failed to see was the divine life that was buried deep in our soul, throbbing at the exact center of our being, that could have been authentically released with no spin and would have aroused our desire to know God Head each of us become aware of the thoughts and feelings stirred by God’s Spirit in our spirit, and had we let those thoughts and feelings express themselves in words, we would have spoken SoulTalk; we would have spoken with power, good power, into each other’s life.


·              Without seeing Christ’s life within us, our choices are either authentic Self Talk (say what you really feel and risk destroying relationships and harming souls) or socialized SelfTalk (spin what you feel into courteous conversation and preserve shallow relationships that keep everyone’s soul pleasant and empty).

·              Jesus gives us a third option. In all Jesus followers, there is a power inside that if identified, stirred up, and authentically released, will generate Soul Talk. We will speak words of life, water of thirsty souls, sentences that will energize people when they’re weary and make the temptation to find enjoyment in counterfeit life less appealing.

2.3.           How to Speak Soultalk

·              SoulTalk is the language we speak in that relationship. It is language with supernatural passion and wisdom in the service of a supernatural purpose. We are seeking SoulTalk when the words we utter are formed by the passion to see another person want God more than anything else and by the wisdom of the Spirit who knows how to make that happen.

·              If you’re a Jesus follower, your soul is alive with God. The actual life of the Trinity is in this moment flowing through you. You are hungry for God, hungrier for him than for anything else.

2.4.           The Five Stages of Soulcare

·              Think beneath – [what aren’t they saying]

·              Think vision – [the real plan of the Spirit]

·              Think passion – [face the mess in your soul as you listen]

·              Think story – [meet the real people you are talking with]

·              Think movement – Follow the Spirit as he penetrates every defense against brokenness and every layer of self-sufficiency until the true self that he has created is released to love God …

3.      Pay close Attention to What’s Inside

3.1.           Beginning to Learn the Language of SoulTalk

·              Whatever I can do without the Spirit is SelfTalk, whatever I can do only with the Spirit is SoulTalk

·              No longer do I need to try to do everything right when I’m talking with you – the pressure’s off.

·              It’s a new way to relate, and it depends entirely on feeling the rhythm of the Spirit in us, trusting that rhythm and abandoning ourselves to it, following his call to movement.

·              Think beneath to what is most alive in you and to what is most conflicted in him. Think beneath. Reflect on what is happening beneath the surface of your interaction until you discover the life in you and the battle in him.

3.2.           The Gospel’s Power in Us

·              Begin your entry into the interior world of the human soul by focusing your thoughts on what is now in you because of the gospel.

·              Think of the energy behind all that Jesus did, the passion that prompted every word he spoke. Jesus felt thirst – he asked for water. Jesus felt tired – he said no to some people and got away by himself. Jesus felt angry – he closed a few greed-based businesses. Jesus felt lonely – he asked a few special friends to be with him when he was hurting. But beneath every secondary motive was a primary motive: He loved God, he loved to please him. Nothing he ever wanted or felt or did compromised the passion that ruled in his soul.

4.      Want God More Than anything Else

4.1.           Seeing the RealBattlein a Person’s Soul

·              We’re busy, big, and passionate, involved in everything but the real battle going on in a human soul. All across the world, people in record numbers are living the tragedy of an unobserved life. For people desperate to be noticed, forgiven, and wanted, there is no greater tragedy.

·              Again, all good things with an important place – but not first place. More important is that each leader be known by someone, not by a crowd or a committee, but by a person, a close friend, an intimate companion. And not merely held accountable, but genuinely known in an intimate, vulnerable painfully real, long-term relationship.

·              Zen Buddhist: “I could find books and teachers who told me what the [Christian] doctrine was, but I could not find anyone who experienced the doctrine” Kreeft comments, “he didn’t find experience among Christians. When he found it among Buddhists, he became one.”

·              And I don’t often experience what the three of them enjoy among each other in my relationship with Christians, even though that’s the whole point of Christianity.

·              But people with blessing – dependent joy have no power to speak into the souls of those who have not been similarly blessed

·        People who haven’t already experienced the blessing stop explaining the text and be the text.

·              But most of us are never known by a safe friend, never explored by a curious friend, and never discovered by a hopeful friend.

4.2.           The RealBattlein Our Soul

·              My [God’s] people want something more than they want me. … Learn to speak with power into people’s lives. Arouse their desire for me until their thirst for me consumes them. When they get away with me, they’ll recover their lives! The battle is for the heart. The battle is in the soul!”

5.      Go Beneath the Superficial

5.1.           Recognizing the Real Battler

·              It’s not easy to recognize your inadequacy as an opportunity to hear the rhythm of the spirit in your soul.

·              But don’t think escape or think help and don’t too quickly think referral.

5.2.           Truth #1 SoulTalk Involves Authentic Encounter

5.3.           Truth #2 SoulTalk Requires Communion with the Trinity

5.4.           Truth #3 SoulTalk Waits for the Spirit

·              We don’t se the timetable for change. That’s the Spirit’s work.

5.5.           Perhaps God will reveal the battle and let you speak with power into it.

5.6.           Move to the Center of theBattle

·              Ephesians 6:13, 18

·              What does Time want most? To be closer to God and more like his Son? Or something else?

·              Is the person you’re speaking with more interested in communion with God that will satisfy his soul or in cooperation from God that will improve his life and a convenient plan he can follow that will bring it about?

6.      Move in for a Closer Look

6.1.           Recognizing Religion As the Real Enemy

·              “Religion is the most dangerous energy source known to humankind,” says Eugene Peterson in his introduction to the prophecy of Amos in The Message.

6.2.           theBattleof Competing Desires

·              Someone shares a journeying reality è Think beneath to the REAL POWER è Supernatural Life Is IN You è Think beneath to the REAL BATTLE è The battle of Competing Desires: What desire rules in this person’s soul? To enjoy the blessings of this world? OR To enjoy the presence of god right now?

7.      Go After the Very Best

7.1.           Seeing a Vision of True Goodness

7.2.           Old Way of Religion

7.3.           New Way of Religion

8.      Look Deep Into Your Own Motivation

8.1.           Preparing for the Dance Lesson

·              It is our deepest passion, our strongest impulse. Because I’m a Christian, I can say that I care about you, that I want to know you, to discover who you truly are, and to help release you by touching your soul with the life of God that is in me. And I’m willing to pay a price to do that. When I sit down to chat with you, I can realistically say, with neither hubris nor exaggeration, there is something in me that if released into you could move you toward the greatest vision anyone could have for you, whether anything in your circumstances changes or not. You can say the exact same words to me, and you’d be speaking truth. We have the power and the rhythm to dance together into your presence of God. That’s the good news. Here’s the bad news: The power that’s in us to change each other and the world is realer released [o received] and when it is, it mostly trickles out; it rarely gushes. But it could be different.

8.2.           The Passion is in Us

·              Wouldn’t it be better to stand firm on our convictions but to then speak the truth in love, to respect others without compromise, to dialogue without hypocrisy, to declare our views as we meaningfully listen to others? It won’t happen as long as our passion to be right exceeds our passion to know God.

·              And why do we support people without challenging the high value most everyone places on the good things of life? Why are we quiet when wonderful, tangible blessings are regarded as the abundant life that Jesus promised to everyone? Why do we try to use God to arrange for what we think will satisfy our soul, call our effort prayer and obedience, and then expect, with a spirit of entitlement, that good things should follow? Our passions are too often religious and self-serving.

·              Pleasing god brings pleasure into our soul. It’s what we want to do. Pleasing others creates pressure. It’s what we think we have to do. And it’s tiring; it wears us out.

9.      Keep Looking Deep Inside

9.1.           Thinking Passion in Three Movements

·              Movement #1 – Think high enough about vision to think low enough about yourself that you’re humbled into brokenness.  EXPERIENCING BROKENESS

·        Brokenness, inspired by spiritual vision, is the key to releasing holy passion.

·        Brokenness, not training or effort, is the key to discovering and releasing holy passion that makes SoulTalk possible.

·        Personal Revival. But real, deep, personal revival, times of refreshing that come from the Lord after dark nights of brokenness and deep repentance (see Acts3:19)

·        Revival as the “reanimating of that which is already living but in a state of declension.”

·        Reanimated? An appetite for God.

·        Brokenness precedes revival. Revival reanimates the dormant life of God within us and turns it loose. Then we speak SoulTalk

·        But what precedes brokenness? Unmanageable vision. When we set a vision that we simply cannot achieve, we’re humbled. As long as we aim toward a vision we think we can reach, God lets us try.

·        My “little sins” didn’t get in the way of my lesser vision. But now I see that they’re getting in the way of spiritual power flowing through me toward spiritual vision. And that makes these little sins big.

·              Movement #2 – Reflect on your own motives as you relate. SEEING OUR SELF-CENTEREDNESS

·        True brokenness depends on seeing not only our visible selfishness, but also our disguised self-centeredness.

·        True brokenness depends not only on seeing visible selfishness, but also on discerning the deep self-centeredness that energizes my words even as I relate with warmth and interest.

·              Movement #3 – When you spotOld Wayenergy, repent. RELEASING THE HOLY PASSION

·        Brokenness releases the holy passion lying dormant in the depths of our soul.

·        When we don’t receive what we believe we need, we feel pain – deep, personal, soul-wrenching disappointment. We still feel, in our quietest moments, an agonizing emptiness. Nothing matters more than relieving that pain and filling that emptiness. We are ruled by the consuming passion of self-need.

·        A spirit of entitlement develops.

·        Religion is the bottom line. But look deeper.

·        Call that renewed capacity soul-thirst. And call our newly granted power to abandon ourselves to him soul-trust. Soul-thirst competes with self-need. Soul-trust opposes self-management.

·        SoulTalk. We speak out of satisfied appetite for God.

9.2.           Pause to Ask some Key Questions

·              Do I manipulate or minister?

·              Am I bolstering my sense of well-being when I speak with you, or am I eager to bolster yours?

·              Do I see to it I never look bad, or do I provide the safety for someone else to look bad in the presence of grace?

·              Is everything else, including my desire to bless you and to see you doing well, a second thing to my first-think desire for God?

10. Know That You have Something to Say

10.1.       Ready for the Next Step

·              Please consider one idea that I believe is terrifically important but commonly overlooked: People will not move as far as they could on their journey into God’s presence or experience the power of the Spirit as fully as they could without telling their story to another person.

·              No lie is more often believed than the lie that we can know God without someone else knowing us. Keeping secrets is lethal. The core of individualism is pride, and pride isolates. We can keep our sexual desires in check and we can stop drinking too much and we can give ourselves to our mate in loving servant hood and we can parent our kids with diligence and we can recognize our demand to be in control – all without ever drawing close enough to another person to have him or her see us as we really are.

·              But deep change requires community, and community is always mutual. We must be willing to tell our story if we expect others to tell us theirs.

11. Listen to More Than the Story You’re Told

12. Reach into the Soul Through a Person’s Story

12.1.       Seizing theOpportunityfor SoulTalk

·              But if the story of your soul is never told, if the secrets of your heart are never shared, if the struggles in your life are never heard, then you are living the tragedy of an unobserved life. You are enduring the unnecessary anguish of loneliness.

·              Let me offer two thoughts about what you’ll feel. First, the loneliness you will experience as you enter the battle for another’s soul will at times seem unendurable.

·              Second, recognize that always being there for other is often a defense.

12.2.       Seize Opportunities for SoulTalk

·              We never get around to thinking story.

·              Vulnerability in one creates a safe environment for another to be vulnerable.

13. Listen to How a Story is Told

13.1.       Tuning in to the Energy Behind the Story

·              He realizes that when you cut yourself off from your story, when you make a point of not paying attention to the present effect of pat events, you open your heart to profound self-deception. You risk deepening both your blindness to how you impact others and your resistance to understand your own weakness and dependency.

·              Denying your emotional past gets in the way of developing present intimacy. And it blocks the flow of God’s power in your life. Pretending that the past is over and done with, that its effects do not linger, preservers the illusion of independence. “I’m not hurting. I’m doing fine. I can just trust God and keep moving ahead.”

13.2.       Listen with Transcendent Curiosity

·              When I face my core sin, that I am more concerned with my immediate sense of well-being than with glorifying God by loving others, I feel desperately hopeless.

·              SoulTalkers will be curious to know what experiences felt so wonderful that, for a moment, one’s soul felt completely satisfied, and a purpose for life – to feel that way again was birthed.

·              Learning to listen with transcendent curiosity as someone tells his or her story is important. It matters. It can move someone into the presence of God. It can create the opportunity for an epiphany.

14. Move to the Center of the Story

15. Leading Others to a New Life in a New Land

15.1.       Our Continued Struggle

·              When I’m at the end of my rope, I finally ask the right question, which is this: “Is there anyone who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question?

·              When we get to the end of our rope, we realize our self-obsession offers no hope, and we’re open to becoming obsessed with God.

16. Don’t Jitterbug to Beethoven

16.1.       Speaking in Rhythm with the Spirit’s Movement

·              The focus immediately becomes solution. We ask all these questions claiming that we have God’s glory in mind, not realizing that we are reducing his glory to his provisions, not his person.

·              Then we defined “good things” as whatever second things we want the most and trust God to provide them now or at least soon, certainly in this life. Blessing-obsession. Self-obsession. Second thing – obsession. It’s all the same.

16.2.       Putting Second Things First

·              We think God’s Spirit was sent to earth to give us the happiness that blessings bring.

·              God may or may not give us these good blessings, but if we put first things first, we will come to know him.

·              Could the Spirit instead be promoting an experience of emptiness now to create space, which he will later fill?

16.3.       Think Movement

·              We talked about spiritual formation, how the Spirit detaches us from dependence on blessings by letting us feel the pain of losing them and having to face how strong our spirit of entitlement is. Then the Spirit helps us discover the deep empty space in our soul that no second thing could ever fill. Only god.

·              We have spent time looking into our souls to discover the deep yearning that no restored marriage or any other blessing could satisfy, and we reflected on what it meant to actually experience God as our satisfaction, even without the blessings he could provide.

·              The Spirits movement is always toward the vision of the interior world resembling the interior world of Jesus. Nothing interests the Spirit more, no our blessings, not our comfort, not even our happiness. And the process always begins with brokenness over the realization of how unlike the Lord we are. When we see our sin, we are broken. And living water flows through the cracks.

·              But the Spirit was on the move toward what he values most, not a restored marriage or emotional healing but rather a disciple who counts it all joy to suffer for the sake of the gospel, a Jesus follower who begs God to bless her in a certain way but worships him when he doesn’t.

·              Our true measure of having first things in first place is the ability to enjoy whatever second things come our way, even when they fall far short of what we might have wanted. Every glimmer of beauty confirms that the rumor is true: There is a better world and it’s coming.

16.4.       The Mystery of SoulTalk

·              Think movement! Fix it in your mind: the Spirit is moving in the moment as you speak with the person you love. Discern his direction, keep in step, and know what the journey in that direction will look like. Then you’ll be speaking SoulTalk.

·              But be cautioned. There are some things we can understand some truths we can know because God revealed them to us in the Bible. But what we can know will never serve as a manual for helping people change. Mystery will always exceed knowledge. There is no formula for SoulTalk, but if there were, it would be ten parts mystery to one part knowledge.

·              I can urge you to pay attention to what’s happening in you as you listen to another share his or her struggles, and I can tell you that until you see your sin as greater than any sin that has been committed against you, you will only speak SelfTalk.

17. Enter the Mystery of Movement

17.1.       Finding the Courage to Cooperate with What we Cannot Control

·              And I can chart progress on the spiritual journey:

·        From brokenness: “I’ve sinned against the one who sinned against me. My sin is as offensive to God as is his. And I’ve sinned against god by treating him like a second thing.”

·        Through repentance: “I’ve been on the religious journey, trying to do what it takes to make my life work and to feel alive. I want to trade in all that self-obsession for God-obsession.”

·        Into abandonment: “I’ll follow the Spirit wherever he tells me to g because I am willing to risk trusting god, even when he does nothing visible to warrant my trust.”

·        Toward confidence: “God’s been dancing all along. And now I’m walking onto the dance floor. I can hear the music. Look! I’m actually dancing, and I feel alive. Communion with the Trinity is real and fills the center of my soul. This is life!”

·        Resulting in release: “Now I want to bless those who have hurt me. My pain isn’t the point. Yes, I still hurt, but I’m becoming God-obsessed! I’m a little more like Jesus! And it’s who I really am. I’m discovering my true self. This is joy!”

The dance of Soul Talk

Someone you love tells you about something going on in his/her life è

1.      Think beneath: Don’t speak quickly. Think about the battle between religion and Christianity. Is this person more aware of his/her desire for blessing or desire for God? è

2.      Think vision: Reflect on how this person would be talking about his/her life if he/she wanted God more than his blessing. What would it mean for this person’s life to not be wasted? è

3.      Think passion: how are you right now self-obsessed? Feel it, confess it to God, and let brokenness put you in touch with your true desire to love this person. è

4.      Think Story: Listen with transcendent curiosity to hear the hidden story of fear and shame and to hear shaping events that directed this person away from God in order to find life. Ask lots of questions. Be stingy with advice. è

5.      Think movement: ay close attention to any movement toward brokenness. Then put words to repentance, encourage specific acts of trust, share your confidence in God, and celebrate release of the person’s true self. è

Back to step 2: think Vision.


One thought on “SoulTalk by Dr. Larry Crabb

  1. Thanks you so much to the summary of the book and your personal thoughts. They describe so much of my struggles and hopes throughout my lifetime. I really like the phrase about thinking about story.
    My mind is buzzing at the moment trying to focus on the primarily things of God not my negative self talk or socialised talk with others. God help us to make the change and grow.

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