Dr. E James Wilder

PhD, Clinical Psychology, and M.A. Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary


Dr. Jim Wilder has been training leaders and counselors for over 30 years on five continents. Jim grew up in South America and is bilingual (English/Spanish). He is the author of nineteen books with a strong focus on maturity and relational skills. His co-authored book, Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You, has sold over 100,000 copies and is printed in eleven languages. Wilder has published numerous articles and developed four sets of video and relational leadership training. Dr. Wilder has served as a guest lecturer at Fuller Seminary, Biola, Talbot Seminary, Point Loma University, Montreat College, Tyndale Seminary, and elsewhere.

Dr. Jim Wilder has extensive clinical counseling experience and is the chief neurotheologian of Life Model Works, a nonprofit working at the intersection of theology and brain science.  Life Model Works builds on the fifty-year legacy of Shepherd’s House, which began in the 1970s as a ministry to street kids in Van Nuys, California. 


In those early days, Jim worked with the team of volunteer counselors and Fuller Seminary faculty to build a counseling center to help broken people recover from negative habits, addictions, abuse, and trauma. By the 1990s, Jim was Assistant Director and later Executive Director of Shepherd’s House, helping hundreds of pastors and churches with their toughest counseling cases.


Jim was intimately involved in 1987 when Shepherd’s House conducted a careful review of why some people with the same level of trauma and treatment recovered but others did not. The results of this case-by-case study became The Life Model, a new recovery model. The Life Model study findings were published in Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You.

The Life Model

The Life Model is an idealized conception of God’s design for human maturation and transformation into the image of Christ from cradle to grave. The Life Model is built on the three pillars of Multigenerational Community, Immanuel Awareness and Relational Brain Skills. The Life Model is building contagiously healthy Christian communicates across the world.

The 2000s were a productive era as Jim deepened neurotheology and Shepherd’s House became a resource center for the Church. Jim built out new modules of the Life Model. Nineteen Relational Brain skills, based upon discoveries in neuroscience, were developed to give ordinary people the skills they lacked, and to help them train others in these brain skills. Practices of Immanuel Awareness and prayer were a unique addition to counseling practice and daily life.

Jim was the chief researcher who built of the neurosciencific discoveries of Dr. Allan Shore and Bowlby.  Jim realized that relational joy is the engine that drives thriving, recovery and even produces the strength needed for prevention of trauma and addiction. He developed books, tapes, videos, and conferences to teach the full range of thriving – from relational brain skills to prayer ministry to multi-generational community growth. These programs were soon called THRIVE: Changing My Generation and Thriving: Recover Your Life. Since 2018, relational brain skill training has been provided by Thrive Today, a partner ministry.

Dr. Jim Wilder continues to research and develop neurotheology with a focus on attachment repair, trauma recovery, relational brain skills, emotional/spiritual maturity, spiritual interventions, men’s development, community restoration and cross-cultural applications. 

Key Collaborators for Jim Wilder through the years: 

Jim’s Popular Books

Rare Leadership in the Workplace

4 Uncommon Habits that Improve Focus, Engagement, and Productivity

Revive your leadership. Grow healthy teams. See great results. Learn how the Life Model can transform you at work: from fear and avoidance to fearlessness and joy!

The Other Half of Church

Christian Community, Brain Science, and Overcoming Spiritual Stagnation

Join Jim and Michel and revolutionize your spiritual growth by understanding how the brain works. Learn the roles of the brain’s left and right sides and how they’re both critical to experience lasting, full-brain transformation.

renovated book covers


God, Dallas Willard, and the Church that Transforms

Through conversations he had with Dallas Willard, Jim Wilder shows how we can train our brains to relate to God based on joyful, mutual attachment—which leads to emotional and spiritual maturity as our identity and character are formed by our relationship with God.

Pandora Problem Front Cover 10.22 (2)

The Pandora Problem

Facing Narcissism in Leaders and Ourselves

The Pandora Problem and its companion guide together provide a tool for you and your group to use to pry up the lid with the grace of Jesus and bring hope for transformation into your situation.

Joy Starts Here

The Transformation Zone

Authors E. James Wilder, Ed M. Khouri, Chris M. Coursey, and Shelia D. Sutton take us through the exciting steps of finally being able to find real joy in our lives. Real joy is attainable; it is able to be grown and cultivated. When real joy is found, it can change families, schools, churches, and the world.

Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You

15th Anniversary Study Edition

The Life Model is a unifying approach to ministries of counseling, recovery, pastoral care, prayer ministry, deliverance, inner healing, child-rearing, body life, and health. Substance abuse recovery programs internationally are guided by the Life Model’s five principles.

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