A friend feels rejected. A counselee is angry. A church member’s child is ill. You want to help, but where do you begin? Author and counselor Michael R. Emlet outlines a model of one-another ministry based on how God sees and loves his people primarily as saints, while bringing comfort to the sufferer, and faithfully speaking truth to the sinner.
Filled with everyday illustrations as well as counseling examples, Emlet demonstrates what it looks like to approach fellow believers simultaneously as saints, sufferers, and sinners. Emlet unpacks Scripture and draws on his many years of counseling experience to help counselors, pastors, and friends love others wisely and well.
As part of CCEF’s Helping the Helper series, this guide for ministry provides an overall framework for wisely helping any person by loving others in the same way that God loves us.
Michael R. Emlet, MDiv, MD, practiced as a family physician for over ten years before becoming a counselor and faculty member at the Christian Counseling & Educational Foundation (CCEF). He is the author of the books CrossTalk: Where Life & Scripture Meet and Descriptions and Prescriptions: A Biblical Perspective on Psychiatric Diagnoses and Medications and the minibooks Asperger Syndrome, Chronic Pain, Angry Children, Help for the Caregiver, and Overeating: When Enough Isn't Enough.
“In this Scripture-saturated book, Michael Emlet uses real-life counseling interactions and insights gained from years of counseling and training counselors to demonstrate how we can love, listen to, grieve with, challenge, and accept the people around us in ways that befit the gospel of the grace of Jesus.”
Nancy Guthrie, Author of Saints & Scoundrels in the Story of Jesus
“Michael Emlet has written a very compassionate, biblical, and helpful book, with practical guidelines for how to love others as God loves us. It emphasizes the need to hold all three truths in a balanced perspective for every person: as a saint in Christ, a sufferer, and a sinner. Highly recommended!”
Siang-Yang Tan, Professor of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary; author of Shepherding God’s People and Counseling and Psychotherapy: A Christian Perspective
"Dr. Michael Emlet has given us a treasure. He’s primarily focused on how we relate to others through the triple lens of saint, sufferer, and sinner. He’s particularly strong at blending those lenses together. The result? You can begin to look at and treat people as fully human. His experience as a counselor grounds his thoroughly biblical insights in real life. This immensely helpful book isn’t just for counselors—it’s for all of Jesus’s followers."
Paul Miller, Author of A Praying Life and J-Curve: Dying and Rising with Jesus in Everyday Life
"As Christians, we know we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, but it can be hard to know what it means to offer love to our neighbors on the ground in concrete, daily ways. In this deep, rich, and practical book, Michael Emlet draws on Scripture and years of experience as a Christian husband, parent, church member, and counselor to help us more faithfully and fully love our neighbors, our spouses, our children, and all whom God brings into our lives. Through this exploration of what it means that we are all simultaneously saints, sufferers, and sinners, which is shaped by the wisdom of the Bible on every page, those who read this book will come away better equipped to fulfill the Great Commandment in the quotidian moments of everyday life and ministry."
Kristen Deede Johnson, Award-winning author; dean and professor of Theology and Christian Formation, Western Theological Seminary
“This book will give you a fuller view of yourself and those you love. It is clear, helpful, gentle, and wise, which just happens to be the way I would describe Mike.”
Edward T Welch, Faculty and counselor, Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation (CCEF); author of A Small Book for the Anxious Heart
“Every person who seeks counseling brings a unique blend of history, beliefs, behaviors, circumstances, and relationships, but there are fundamental truths that apply broadly to every person we minister to. Our identity before God as saints, sufferers, and sinners is perhaps the foundational truth upon which our counseling stands. Saints, Sufferers,and Sinners offers a deeply biblical and theological understanding of this reality and demonstrates how this broad principle fleshes out in the counseling experience with ground level practical application.”
Curtis Solomon, Executive Director, The Biblical Counseling Coalition
“Two things I appreciate about Michael Emlet’s new book: 1) Its clarity regarding the realities of believers being saints, sufferers, and sinners while we walk this earth, and 2) Its realistic application of our identity in Christ affecting each of these dimensions of our lives in the way that we live, love, counsel, encourage, correct, and repent for the sake of others.”
Bryan Chapell, Pastor; author
"Too often we speak only to parts of people because we only see part of them: they just need to get over their sin, just need compassion because life has been hard, just need faith because it's all that matters. Mike Emlet's Saints, Sufferers, and Sinners refuses to over-simplify. Instead, Emlet enables his readers in concrete, biblically rich ways to simultaneously take all three aspects of our Christian, human reality seriously. Full of winsome case studies, this book brims with wisdom in action about gently responding to sin, practical ways to encourage, and how to offer meaningful comfort to those who suffer. Saints, Sufferers, and Sinners is the product of a lifetime of godliness from a man whose compassion and humble grace come through on every page. This must become a foundational book for biblical counselors of every type for generations to come."
Alasdair Groves, Executive Director, Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation(CCEF);coauthor of Untangling Emotions
"As a counselor, the value of seeing how the gospel speaks in unique ways to sin, suffering, and our identity as saints has been pivotal. As a pastor, these balanced truths are essential to being a good ambassador of the gospel. Michael Emlet's work in Saints, Sufferers, and Sinners is a must read for anyone wanting to accurately apply the gospel to the full breadth of human experience."
Brad Hambrick, Pastor of Counseling at The Summit Church; assistant professor of Biblical Counseling, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary; general editor for Becoming a Church that Cares Well for the Abused
"Many of us err in tending to see ‘the problem’ in ourselves or in others as only one of sin or idolatry, or entirely one of suffering, and in focusing on either we can forget that all God's people are also saints in whom the Spirit is at work already. Saints, Sufferers, and Sinners helps us see people as they really are. Where others stop, this accessible yet profound book also equips us for talking to those not yet safe in Christ's kingdom. This book is everyday practical, richly biblical, and wonderfully re-balancing."
Andrew Nicholls, Director of Pastoral Care, Oak Hill College, London
“With the precision of a physician and the compassion of a counselor, Michael Emlet offers readers a template for engagement and relationship that will help you reimagine gospel-centered counseling. Saturated in Scripture and brimming with real-life case studies, one can quickly recognize this is the fruit of many years of study in Scripture and walking with our Savior. Michael is the exact type of counselor I would want walking alongside me in my journey of faith.”
Jonathan D. Holmes, Pastor of Counseling, Parkside Church; executive director, Fieldstone Counseling
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Michael Emlet has brought his biblical wisdom and counselling skills together to create this fantastic resource for anyone who wants to pastorally care in a balanced and nuanced way. Whether you minister to others in your personal circles, your ministry, or in a more formal counselling space, he provides a short yet comprehensive way to consider our approach to people and the complexity of their lives. His first book CrossTalk introduced the idea of people as saints, sufferers and sinners, and this develops that concept in more depth. He addresses each category in order: how scripture speaks to it, how God loves them, and how we love people in these categories in everyday and counselling contexts. All of these chapters were biblical, wise, helpful, logically structured, and easy to read and digest. The barriers to loving others were particularly insightful in each category, considering why we might find it hard to encourage saints, note suffering or challenge sin. My only issue was that I wanted more detail in some areas. In almost every case, Emlet encourages us to start with people as saints. Consider the good, consider how God is at work in them. Our identity is shaped by our relationship with God, and so our designation as saint is more foundational than sufferer or sinner. Emlet finishes with considering what balance looks like as we hold the triad of saint, sufferer and sinner together, and explores the risks when one is overemphasised over the other. He leaves the reader with the hope and promise of the day to come when we will only be saints, no longer sufferers or sinners. This is an excellent book for anyone wanting to love and counsel others in a well-rounded, biblically grounded, caring way that desires growth and change in the context of a living relationship with our saviour God.