Meet David Powlison.
Dr. Powlison is a graduate of Harvard (A.B.), Westminster Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and the University of Pennsylvania (Ph.D.).
Dr. Powlison is the author of two excellent books:
- Seeing with New Eyes: Counseling and the Human Condition through the Lens of Scripture
- Speaking Truth in Love
Since 1977 Powlison has served as a counselor and teacher at the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF). Since 1992, he has been the editor of the Journal of Biblical Counseling. He also is an adjunct lecturer at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.
But you probably know all this already.
So who is David Powlison? What does he read for fun? What role do his friends play in his life and ministry? And how can he possibly think that “wasting” time actually makes him more productive? Let’s find out.
Thanks for your time, David! Please describe your morning devotions. What time do you wake up in the morning? How much time do you spend reading, meditating, praying, etc.? What are you presently reading?
For the past several years I’ve been sleeping well, after many years of an erratic and disabling sleep pattern. It is a great joy to awaken feeling refreshed at 6:30 or 7:00, after so many years of exhaustion. On a typical day I spend about an hour reading Scripture, meditating, praying, singing – 1/3 to 2/3 of the time on my own, 1/3 to 2/3 of the time with Nan, depending.
I am currently reading through Scripture looking for and highlighting every expression of faith, every faithful response to God. (The last time through I was noticing everything about God Himself – His names, actions, attributes….).
Depending on the day’s responsibilities, I may spend more time, even much more time, in study, meditation, reflection, prayer. I like reading entire chunks of Scripture. This past week I’ve spent 4-5 “extra” hours working through, pondering, visiting and revisiting Psalm 63 and 1 John. This morning I read and highlighted Colossians, making it both my meditation and prayer.
On good, lively days, meditation and prayer consistently arise at key junctures, at points of need, at moments of transition. These living moments, when Scripture “reappears” in the flow of my day, when I am consciously aware of both God and current need, are the proof of living faith, when I am awake to God and to His immediate call.
I don’t only meditate on Scripture, but also on my life and the circle of relationships and responsibilities. Where am I anxious? Irritated? Pressured? Called to love? Thankful? Tempted? Suffering? Where do I need God’s immediate mercies and help? Where are family and friends struggling, and in need of mercies and help? I think about the joys and blessings; about the burdens, troubles, and struggles; about the responsibilities of the day.
This dual meditation brings prayer to life, brings real need to real God, gives shape to the day, and forms the attitudes I bring into the day.
What book(s) are you currently reading in these three categories: (a) for your soul, (b) for pastoral ministry, or (c) for personal enjoyment?
[a] Devotions and Prayers of John Calvin (Charles Edwards, compiler, Baker Books, 1960); Calvin on Scripture and Divine Sovereignty (John Murray, Baker Books, 1960); “The Great Thanksgiving,” the Lord’s Supper service in the Book of Common Prayer pages 333-340; J.I. Packer’s Knowing God; Patrick’s ancient hymn “I bind unto myself today the strong name of the Trinity.” These awaken, ground, and instruct faith.
[b] Life Together (Dietrich Bonhoeffer); Marilynne Robinson’s novels Gilead and Home; Some Principles of Moral Theology and Their Application (Kenneth Kirk, 1920). In very different ways, these bring to life the realities of hands-on pastoral care.
[c] Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin novels. For many years these books have been comfortable friends, and sheer pleasure. They are full of keen perception, wit, lyricism, studies of human nature, adventure, beauty, bringing fresh perspective to current human affairs through immersing in the lives of people far away in time, space, and culture.
Please join me next week for part two of my interview with David.