Wild at heart
John and Stasi Eldredge are world leaders in counselling and have written several books, including John’s best-selling, ‘Wild at Heart’. They met when they were in high school in the same drama class. She was in charge of taking attendance, while he was always cutting class. He realised that he needed to charm her to get her on his side. Charming as he was, however, they never dated in high school. Their relationship only developed when they came to know the Lord.
John wasn’t raised in a Christian home and when he was a teenager he got involved in drug abuse and New Age and Eastern mysticism. He was spiritually hungry and was searching for God. When he was 19, he came to know Jesus as his Lord and Saviour without anyone even leading him to the Lord. He was reading a New Age book that mentioned Jesus but was comparing Him to Buddha and Mohammed, implying that they were all the same. In that moment something in him said, “No, that’s not true. He’s different. Jesus is different.” One night in his bedroom he prayed, “Jesus, I really need help, and I think You are the One to help me.” That was his salvation prayer. Just six months later he was a completely different person.
When John gave his life to the Lord, he also led Stasi to Christ. They soon developed a romantic interest in each other and the rest is history. They were married in 1983, have 3 sons and live in Colorado Springs in the United States.
John has a heart for men and his wife Stasi, on the other hand, is passionate about helping women. John’s best-selling book, ‘Wild at Heart’, which launched in 2001, resounded with the hearts of men around the world. His book proclaimed that masculinity is not only acceptable but also essential and that it is OK for men to be Christians and still be ‘guys’. He says that every young boy has a desire placed in his heart by God, a desire to become a hero and live life as an adventure. As men, they need to continue living this dream. Since its release ‘Wild at Heart’ as sold 2.9 million copies and has inspired men across the world to embrace their masculinity and live as men of God.
In 2005 he co-wrote the book, ‘Captivating’, with Stasi, as the female counterpart to ‘Wild at Heart’. She says, “I was inspired to write ‘Captivating’ with John because of a love for God’s women. I’ve seen what a glorious impact ‘Wild at Heart’ has had on men and their marriages and so I wanted women to experience that healing and the deeper intimacy with Christ which I’ve experienced. I believe that women are desperately needed to rise up and follow Jesus into their calling in ways that many have been unable to because of their broken hearts and because of the crushing version of ‘godly women’ laid on them by the church. We need women who have come alive as women.”
John and Stasi say that the desires of men and women are both similar and different. They are distinctly masculine and distinctly feminine. In ‘Wild at Heart’ John says that every man wants a battle to fight, an adventure to live and a beauty to rescue. In ‘Captivating’ Stasi says that every woman wants to be romanced, to not just be useful but be irreplaceable and she longs to have a beauty that’s all her own to unveil, both an external and an internal beauty. There are lots of similarities too. Our hearts are both wounded and those wounds shape us into the men or women that we become.
Stasi says that deep in the heart of every little girl and every woman is the question, “Am I lovely? Do you enjoy me? Am I worth pursuing, worth fighting for? Am I captivating?” The way this question was answered for each of us as little girls and as women has shaped us into the women we are today. The healing of our feminine heart begins as we take our question to God, to let Him answer the deepest questions of a woman’s heart with a resounding YES!
Both John and Stasi enjoy telling stories because they believe that stories are the language of the heart. That’s also how God speaks throughout Scripture and Jesus often used parables to get His message across. Their books contain stories that illustrate the points they wish to get across to their readers and John says it is important to know what stories we like, because it tells us a lot about ourselves. His favourite stories are movies such as ‘A river runs through it’, ‘Braveheart’ and ‘Saving Private Ryan’. He loves reading books by CS Lewis and also books on the great outdoors such as Jon Krakauer’s book on climbing Everest.
John, Stasi and their three sons love camping and having special times in the outdoors together. John often goes mountain climbing and bow hunting with his sons. Their favourite place to go is the Tetons in the United States and they go every summer as a family. It has become a tradition in the Eldredge household. They camp for a week or two, canoe in the river, swim in the lakes and do some hiking.
This love for the outdoors also holds a very painful memory, however. When searching for spiritual guidance, John went to a man named Brent Curtis for help. Pretty soon counsellor and client became blood brothers. They discovered a mutual desire to combine counselling with public speaking and wilderness retreats, directed toward rescuing people’s hearts from the passivity they found common in modern Christianity. They both dreamed of centering their work on a ranch. Brent and John were holding their first retreat for men, a forerunner of today’s ‘Wild at Heart’ basic training courses, when Brent died tragically. He was standing on rocks 80 feet above the ground and the rocks gave way. His death shook John to the core. “Brent was a soul mate, a friend of friends. It was a Jonathan and David friendship,” Eldredge says. “But for the intervention of God, I think I would have bailed. Very early after Brent’s death, God came to me and said, ‘You will not walk alone. I will not allow it.’”
John then founded Ransomed Heart Ministries which specialises in spiritual boot camps for men and women. Since his best friend’s death, Eldredge has poured himself into friendships with the people who work with him at Ransomed Heart. He and his colleagues are often seen riding horses, rappelling down a cliff, rafting in white water, shooting skeet and stacking hay in a barn. They whoop frequently during these adventures and they take occasional breaks during which John walks them through the main points of ‘Wild at Heart’.
Eldredge prefers wilderness to office space and risky adventures to living-room couches. He believes that men, as creatures made in God’s image, have a God-given heart for adventure—usually starting with adventures in the outdoors, but working up to the adventure of loving a woman even when she’s furious, and the ultimate adventure of trusting God on uncertain paths.
Stasi leads the women’s ministry of ‘Ransomed Heart’ and is a highly popular speaker. She is passionate about women and brings a softer side to John’s ministry which focuses primarily on men. Her desire is to bring women into a romantic relationship with God. She says, “Jesus came not only to forgive our sins but also to heal broken hearts. When He began His ministry on earth, He went into the synagogue and read the passage from Isaiah 61 that explains He came to bind up the broken-hearted and set the captives free. We all have hearts that have been broken as a result of what’s been done to us and as a result of our own choices. We are captives and He wants to heal our hearts and set us free to be ourselves. Ask God to heal your broken heart. Christianity is not about duty and obedience. It’s about a romance with the living God of the universe and that’s where our healing begins – beautifully, deeply, sometimes immediately, but usually over time. The way that He heals us is in relationship. He desires relationship with us. In Jeremiah 31:3 God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” When we ask God, ‘Am I lovely?’ He is truly the only One who can answer that question.”
John and Stasi long to see men re-discover their masculinity and live adventurous lives of faith and to see women embrace their femininity and their relationship with God. Happily married for 25 years, they seem to know just what they are talking about. Accepting who you are and living a life focused on God, and all He made you to be, is the best foundation for any relationship. John and Stasi are setting a Godly example for men and women around the world, to live passionately and to love intensely. They truly are wild at heart.
Wild at heart