Everybody's Normal 'Till You Get To Know Them
John Ortberg, a best-selling author with more than one million books in print, has a passion for helping people become more like Jesus. And during almost nine years as a teaching pastor, Ortberg has seen and experienced Christian community, with all its rewards and challenges, on a daily basis. Now the author's passion, education and ministry experience meld to create his latest book, Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them, a guide to living in community.
Psychological And Spiritual
John Ortberg's lifelong fascination with the mind and the spirit has led him down a unique life path. He holds two degrees, a Masters in Theology and a Ph.D. in Psychology, from Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. But rather than spending his life in academia, Ortberg has chosen to invest time as a pastor (currently a teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago) and as an author (his previous book has already spent 21 months on the CBA Bestseller List).
In both his pastoral and writing roles, Ortberg's ministry is marked by practical principles that touch hearts as well as minds. "I have always been intrigued by what it means to be human," admits Ortberg. "For me personally, relationships have been the greatest source of joy and the greatest pain in life." His new book, Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them, uniquely intertwines psychological insight and spiritual wisdom to help readers grasp and experience the abstract idea of community.
Community Vs. Comfort
Ortberg is the middle child in a close-knit family. Raised in Rockford, Illinois, he remembers the joy of community in his family while experiencing an intrinsic longing to be known by his peers. "Like most everyone, I was starved for community in my early teens. So when I began to experience it a few years later, it made an unforgettable impression on my soul," recalls Ortberg.
But not all his relational experiences were simple and clean; broken relationships and a fear of honest communication have also marked Ortberg's journey. Ortberg remembers how a college friend confronted him with an uncomfortable truth: "I felt so hurt by his actions that I basically withdrew from him. I didn't seek to learn from it, I didn't ask him to elaborate, I didn't reflect on it. It wasn't until many years later-it was a gradual process through friendships and marriage-where I experienced the benefits of people willing to tell me the truth. I saw how far I was, and can still be, from wanting truth in my life."
The Reason for Being
Ortberg believes community is foundational, even pivotal: "To live in and contribute to God's dream of community is the reason you were born. It is what you were created for. Neglect this, and it doesn't matter what else you do, you will die a failure. Devote yourself to this one task, to loving 'as-is' people, and no matter what else you may not achieve, you will lead a magnificent life."
Ortberg hopes his new book, Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them, will help readers tap into their own longing for community and take steps to make that longing reality. "Everybody wants to have community, but nobody wants to give up freedom," Ortberg explains. "Everybody wants to keep their options open and at the same time, experience deep, rich, binding community. You can't have it both ways." He wrote this book to help readers become intentional in building and keeping community; to offer tools and insight for building a life of rich relationships. As a pastor, counselor, author, husband and father of three teenagers, Ortberg has had ample opportunity to work with difficult people in difficult situations. But he sees all of the challenges in his life as the foundation for his writing. From spiritual disciplines (The Life You've Always Wanted) to knowing God's will (If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get out of the Boat), Ortberg's books lovingly but persistently prod the reader to keep growing more like Jesus.