Review of Bill Tell’s Lay It Down
The backstory of Lay It Down is what drew me to read this book. Bill Tell was a leader of an important and large ministry whose driven nature and desire to please others led to burnout. The theological truths of this book helped him to break the cycle of bad habits. However, it would be wrong to consider this a pop psychology book with a loose connection to biblical principles. Burnout is not the central theme of the book. This book is about basic discipleship and living in the freedom of the gospel.
The flow of Tell’s argument is as follows. Our performance does not make God loves us more. Rather, God loves us and by His grace, saves us and makes us new creatures. However, God does not oppose effort. Rather, He opposes our attempts to earn His favor. Obedience is not the result of our willpower. Rather obedience is the result of maturing as the new creatures God has made us. It is living out what God has already done. The Holy Spirit empowers the maturing process. God adopts us as His children. He accepts us unconditionally and puts us in community with others. It is worth the time to read how Tell explains these points biblically.
Tell organizes his book well, building one point upon the other. Just when I found myself asking, “Yeah, but what about…?”, he would have a section in the chapter with the heading, “Yeah, but…” He anticipates questions and answers them. Many of his points remind me of Neil Anderson’s The Bondage Breaker. Unlike Anderson, Tell does not fall into presenting methods. Rather, he points to theological truth and encourages the reader to read it out.
Tell was able to break the habits of a people-pleaser through the truths he discovered that led to this book. I am not sure it is that easy for all people. Many can accept God’s unconditional love while still struggling to obtain the respect and admiration of others. Other poor habitual ways of thinking have to be confronted. A book such as When People Are Big and God Is Small by Ed Whelch would be helpful for those facing that struggle.
I would encourage anyone working with new believers to read this book and teach the principles found there to them so that they can avoid the pits into which other Christians have fallen. Having several copies on a shelf and ready to give out to those struggling to have freedom in Christ is a good idea.
(Full Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book for review from Tyndale House Publishers. I was under no obligation to write a positive review.)