To great praise, Side by Side by Ed Welch was thrown into the thousands of other Christian books seeking attention. Since its release in April of this year, I have read a number of people highly recommending the book, enough so that I put aside other readings so that I could pick up this particular book. What I thought would be a book of counseling others ended up also being a book of great self-examination.
With each chapter building off the previous, Ed Welch does not deny and even begins with some basic premises: life is hard and people are busy. We all know this and accept it as part of our own lives. But understanding those from a biblical basis is key to so many of the other heart attitudes of believers. He masterfully weaves his way from one area to the next with insights that are extremely real and extremely practical for every Christian.
Perhaps those most important pieces though come towards the end of the book. At the root of all issues is sin. However, we all need help in our daily struggles. While it requires humility, Welch rightly provides instruction for reaching out in help to both our Lord and to others. This may not seem so profound, but his teaching through it from a biblical standpoint is very insightful.
While useful for helping others, I would recommend that every person reading the book and looking to its applications do something first. Use it in personal discipleship and accountability with someone first. Included at the end of each chapter are thoughtful questions to consider about your own spiritual life. For that reason, it serves as a useful time to examine yourself before helping others to examine themselves.
I must say that I appreciated that it was a quick read for such a heavy subject. Despite that brevity, the richness of the book is massive and thus should be a required part of every individual’s personal library. It is one that will be of practical use with both yourself and with others.