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Say Good: Speaking Across Hot Topics, Complex Relationships, and Tense Situations

Ashlee Eiland
Published by NavPress in 2024

Say good. Two simple words that evoke the depth and breadth of Christian discipleship. In her new book by this title, pastor and Bible teacher Ashlee Eiland guides readers in self-examination and growth in faith, with a focus on speaking (in person and online) across hot topics and tense situations.

The book begins with a powerful claim: We have all been given voices to use as instruments of truth, tuned to the sound of the same Voice that spoke life into the void ‘in the beginning,’ giving us God’s image to bear, God’s voice and heart to carry.”1 This beautiful claim invites the reader into a discipleship journey. How will we use our words for good? What temptations and distractions lure us to use words that hurt or fracture, instead of words that bless and heal?

The opening section of the book introduces Eiland in her family life, experiencing the very challenges she explores in the book. Throughout, the book relies on the metaphor of a tightrope: life as a balancing act. After the introductory section, the book is organized in four parts—four steadying beams that help to stabilize us as we discern how to speak in challenging situations. The book’s promise to the reader is that “you’ll come to know your voice and grow in your confidence to use it, to brave the height and terrain and the thin length of space between people, problems, [and] possibilities.”2

The four pillars Eiland presents are passion, accountability, influence, and relationship. Each section is introduced with a clear overview, and stories from Eiland’s life illustrate the pastoral advice and guidance she offers. Each chapter concludes with discussion questions that “test the pillar” by connecting it with the reader’s own life. These discussion questions are remarkably engaging. I can picture students using the questions to discuss the four pillars, week by week in a campus discipleship group, or using the questions to supplement a Bible study.. For example, “How might the Lord be inviting you to grow in Christ’s likeness by identifying with our Savior who wept?” or “How might you keep your heart tender in this work? What’s the greatest threat to staying emotionally present along this journey?”3 Eiland’s authorial presence is pastoral, like a teaching pastor who is guiding a congregation or a small group through a discipleship process. On the one hand, the path is very familiar—self-examination, confession, repentance, and deepening life in Christian fellowship and service to others. On the other hand, she illuminates parts of the path that are new and that cause trouble in our relationships: speaking on social media, technological distractions, social polarization, and race-related violence. The reader will notice her walking the very tightrope she describes, in an authorial voice that balances challenge and support, biblical grounding with contemporary application, and social concern with personal piety.

I see Say Good as a contemporary extension of the book of James, though the tone of James is more admonishing, even strident. “If any think they are religious, and do not bridle their tongues but deceive their hearts, their religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” 4 James calls us to go back to square one, examining our basic understanding of what religion is, and also how we practice it.

Say Good encourages the same, a consideration of what believers are called to do and to be, in a voice and with words and word pictures exquisitely fitted to the twenty-first century. We who think ourselves religious can examine the things that deceive, distract, and deflect us, knocking us off our tightropes. We can support each other in regaining balance, and when we do, the words and deeds we share with the world will reach the people and places most afflicted by sin, injustice, and harm.

The book concludes with an inspiring reminder that our words matter, whether or not they are recorded or shared, to those with whom we speak and for those who will follow us.

Whatever you do, walk the line laid out for you. Run the good race—yours and no one else’s. Step into the hope that comes alongside the courage required to say good. You may stumble, you may even fall, but don’t miss out on the journey. The next generation will want to know, will need reminders of how it’s done.5 

As educators, we delve into hot topics and social problems from the vantage points of our disciplines, growing in knowledge and wisdom as guided by history, philosophy, literature, and many more. This book doesn’t frame or analyze issues in the ways that sociologists and anthropologists do, and it isn’t organized like a textbook or scholarly analysis. It would, however, inspire my students to see the “why”, the motivation and holy purpose, of leaning into difficult topics that are easier avoided. This book will be a strong asset in the co-curricular arena, where students talk with mentors, pastors, resident directors, and peers in discipleship settings. Say Good will be an asset to Christian colleges and universities in student development offices, student leadership trainings, student discipleship groups, and campus ministries. Campuses would benefit from Eiland’s presence as a workshop leader, chapel speaker, or leadership consultant.


  1. Ashlee Eiland, Say Good: Speaking Across Hot Topics, Complex Relationships, and Tense Situations (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2024).  3.
  2. Eiland, 7.
  3. Eiland, 79.
  4. James 1:26–27 (New Revised Standard Version).
  5. Eiland, 200.

Jenell Paris

Messiah University
Jenell Paris, Ph.D., is Professor of Anthropology and Sociology at Messiah University in Grantham, PA.

One Comment

  • Marybeth says:

    Thank you for this much-needed exhortation, Jenell. It’s a good reminder always, and one I especially needed right now.