I often get asked by friends and people who know I am connected to Wild At Heart, “Which of John Eldredge’s books are the best?” or “Which one should I read first?”
A lot of people, both men and women, have read Wild At Heart and, if you are planning to attend a Boot Camp or BASIC event, it definitely puts color commentary around a man’s journey and much of what we, as men, present to the world. In the same way, many have read Stasi Eldredge’s Captivating as a complement to attending a Captivating or CORE event. However, for those who are just dipping their toe in the pool and getting started, outside of that context, Wild At Heart and/or Captivating may not be the place to start.
One of my favorite John Eldredge books is Waking The Dead. I love the way John is able to communicate the Gospel, our situation in the world, and our walk with God so clearly. That could be a good place to start.
EPIC is another one. Call it Situational Awareness as part of Christianity 101.
The list of John’s books has grown quite long over the years from The Sacred Romance, that he wrote with his good friend Brent Curtis, to his most recent book, Get Your Life Back. There are fifteen books that John has either written or co-written over the last almost 25 years. God has gifted John with the ability to communicate the truth of the Gospel in a myriad of ways to a world that is broken, hurting, and confused in more ways than it is possible to count.
So, “Which one should I read first?” Ultimately, that will depend upon where you are in your walk with God and where he is currently after transformation in your life. My first recommendation is to simply ask Jesus. Stay with the question and listen. He will answer.
However, with that said, if someone is asking for guidance from my own experience, my general recommendation would be Beautiful Outlaw.
Over the years, I had found that the Jesus I knew, loved, and worshiped had become sterile and two dimensional. Informed by religion and not by the person.
Think about the best friend you have ever had. Now, think about the things that make them so - their personality, their smile, their tough words at the right moment, their willingness to get “dirty” with you, their ability to make you laugh when you don’t want to …. the personality that make them who they are. The things that impact your heart.
Now, imagine if the only way you were able to know about that person had been by reading a biography. You learn a lot of facts about them, but you really do not engage the essence of who they are, their personality. Could they have ever become your best friend if they had never impacted your heart with who they truly are, with their personality?
Beautiful Outlaw helped me to connect with the personality of Jesus and to read his biographies again with new eyes. In doing so, subtly, I found my love for him growing deeper and fresher than ever before; and I found myself talking to a friend, a brother, someone I love for who he truly is. And, in those conversations, I found I was walking with God in a way that was more honest, open, and true.
As my relationship with Jesus has become firmly established in the context of his true, extravagant personality, everything else I read, whether written by John or not, gains clarity, color, perspective, and life. The fullness of who I am bounded by his holiness and his love – Alive, Full and Free!