The Gift of Being Yourself: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery

Book Review
  • Approximate Time Commitment: 5 minutes

THE GIFT OF BEING YOURSELF: The Sacred Call to Self-Discovery by David G. Benner is about finding the true you through God. This review was written by Hank Griffith of South Suburban Evangelical Free Church in Apple Valley, Minnesota. This book is good for those trying to find identity in Christ.

Partner: Grow2Serve

Resource Description

Full Review:

“Grant, Lord, that I may know myself that I may know thee.” Augustine

This thought provoking book is summarized in one paragraph on the back cover:

“Much is said in Christian circles about knowing God. But there cannot be deep knowledge of God without deep knowledge of one’s self. In this profound exploration of Christianity identity, psychologist and spiritual director David G. Benner illuminates the spirituality of self-discovery. He exposes the false selves that we hide behind and calls us to discover the true self that emerges from uniqueness in Christ. Genuine self-understanding revitalizes our spiritual life and leads us to fulfillment of our God-given destiny and vocation.”

To be perfectly honest with you I am ambivalent about this book. One side of me found The Gift of Being Yourself extremely helpful in understanding how I can at times project a false identity, rather than find my true identify in Christ. The other side of me says that though the author, Dr. David G. Benner, has been influenced by historic Christianity (he quotes Augustine, Calvin, Packer, and others), he has been even more influenced by Christian mystics and writers like Thomas Merton.

Misses the heart

In my opinion, The Gift of Being Yourself is a Christ-centered book, but it misses the heart of Christianity – the cross. Another concern I have about the book is the author doesn’t stress knowing God by reading and meditating on His Word so much as by methods like meditation and “day dreaming”.

Personal opinion

Even though I definitely would not recommend The Gift of Being Yourself as a means for learning sound theology, I still think it has some great insights for us. Chapter 4 entitled “Knowing yourself as you really are” was especially helpful to me. It provided me with ancient aid to knowing myself called “Enneagram”.

According to David Benner, to genuinely know yourself, you must (1) honestly desire it, (2) be willing to prayerfully reflect on your experience with God, and (3) be willing to meet yourself and God in solitude.

Thinking about how I want others to see me has shown me some lies I have led over time. I have at times worn a mask to portray myself in a positive way. I have sometimes failed to be transparent and honest about my weaknesses.

The author quotes Basil Pennington who suggests that the core of the false self is the belief that my value depends on what I have and what I can do.

I appreciate the author’s emphasis on not just knowing about God, but knowing God personally. I also agree with him that only in knowing God personally can we really be the person He intends us to be, and He has different intentions for each of us. Christian spirituality takes on the mind and heart of Christ, yet without losing our individual identity.

There is a good summary of the “false self” and the “true self” in chapter six:

The false self:

  • Security and significance achieved by what we have, what we can do, and what others think of us
  • Happiness sought in autonomy from God and in attachments
  • Identity is our idealized self (who we want others to think we are)
  • Achieved by means of pretense and practice
  • Maintained by effort and control
  • Embraces illusion as a means of attempting to become a god

The true self:

  • Security and significance achieved by being deeply loved by God
  • Fulfillment found in surrender to God and living our vocation
  • Identity is who we are – and are becoming – in Christ
  • Received as a gift with gratitude and surrender
  • Maintained by grace
  • Embraces reality as the place of meeting and being transformed by God

Benner admits that “self-discovery” is a term used in New Age and psycho-babble, but he believes God truly does desire us to know ourselves. I agree. Therefore, I would invite you to read this book. You will profit from it, but read it with your eyes wide open.



There are no reviews yet.

Only logged in customers who have purchased this product may leave a review.