In Compassion: The Painful Privilege, Dan Nolta tells of how he found compassion and God, which is both the benefit and the flaw of this book. What we have here is one man’s biographical report of how his personal pain was so intense and so deep, it sensitized him to the needs and pain of others. It led him to careers as a counselor, chaplain, and mentor. The drawback is, he shares very little insight in how we readers can do likewise. He leaves us wondering what the steps are (short of having to endure emotional injury, as he did) that would make us better listeners, better advisors, and better nurturers. This is a biography, but it is not a how-to book.
Nolta confesses his concerns that there isn’t enough compassion exercised in the world. Using his experiences, Nolta attempts to prove that God uses our wounds to increase our compassion.
Writing about how the seed of compassion was planted in him, how God used his wounds, and how he gave compassion to others, Nolta doesn’t explain specifically how others can utilize compassion, but, instead, he uses his pages to describe his own journey from hurt to faith. The author possesses the experience to write this book, and it reads more like a journal than a textbook.
He goes on to show how he used compassion as a police chaplain, having to tell families of a fallen officer’s death. Nolta explains that it was he who shared their grief. He describes the pain personally felt and the pain shared after telling those officers’ families.
Compassion: The Painful Privilege tells the sincere story of one man’s journey, but to outsiders, that is all it is: a story. I would recommend this only for people who have shared a similar voyage. – James Holstein, Christian Book Previews.com
“Does God simply give you the gift you need to be useful in his kingdom?” For Dan Nolta, the answer is no.
Nolta grew up in a family torn apart by alcohol and divorce. Restlessness and longing first ate a hole in Nolta’s soul but eventually chased him not only to Jesus but also to his unique giftedness and “divine appointment.”
“No life experience is a throwaway with God,” Nolta states. “With God, nothing is wasted—neither the good times nor bad times, neither the pain nor the privilege.” In Compassion—The Painful Privilege, Nolta shares the process through which God gifted him with compassion and led him to work in the Pierce County (Washington) Sheriff’s Department as a chaplain. Vivid examples from Nolta’s ministry will give you a front row seat to see the inherent costs of exercising compassion—the stress, vicarious suffering, and fatigue. Nolta lets you in on what he’s learned about persevering through the difficulties of the compassionate life, and how to enjoy the rich rewards with appropriate humility.