Wednesday, June 10, 2009

David Augsburger

One of the top 5 spiritual influences in my life is David Augsburger. Dave was professor or pastoral counseling at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary when I was working on my M. Div. Linda and I were in a couples small group with Dave and his wife Nancy for two years. I learned so much during that time from Dave. Also, I was greatly influenced by his personhood and Christlikeness.

Dave is now Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at Fuller Theological Seminary. Is there anyone in the world who knows more about helping people deal with anger and conflict than Dave? I doubt it. I keep coming back to his little book Caring Enough to Confront, which teaches us how to effectively communicate with others when we are in conflict. Dave sees four communication options in conflict and finds them all lacking even though they are much used.He gives us a fifth option, using Ephesians 4:15, which says: “therefore speak the truth in love; so shall we fully grow up into Christ.” Here we are told, in communication, to be both truthful and loving or, in Augsburger’s words, both confronting and caring.

Practically, here’s what this means.Work at communicating both caring and confronting in the middle of marital or relational conflict. Here are the attitudes to have and hold to.


  • I care about our relationship & I feel deeply about the issue at stake

  • I want to hear your view & I want to clearly express mine

  • I want to respect your insights & I want respect for mine

  • I trust you to be able to handle my honest feelings & I want you to trust me with yours

  • I promise to stay with the discussion until we reach an understanding & I want you to stay with me until we've reached an understanding

  • I will not trick, pressure, manipulate, or distort the differences & I want your unpressured, clear, honest views of our differences

  • I give you my loving, honest respect & I want your caring-confronting response

Thank you Dave, from me and Linda.