David A. Sherwood, Ph.D., LICSW, ACSW
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The Challenge of Doing the Right Thing: Real Values, Limited Understanding, and Character-Driven Judgments is a 450-page collection of editorials and articles written by David Sherwood for Social Work & Christianity and for the North American Association of Christians in Social Work between 1981 and 2017 focused on integrating Christian faith, values, and ethics with competent professional social work practice.
In the first article from 1981, “Add to Your Faith Virtue: The Integration of Christian Values and Social Work Practice,” David wrote about the worldview assumptions (faith) that are behind all moral imperatives, secular or religious and outlined several guidelines for the ethical integration of Christian values and social work practice. The last editorial from 2017 was the introduction to the special issue on Christianity and Social Work Practice with LGBTQ Clients and was titled “Dealing Competently, Ethically, and Faithfully with Hard Issues: The Difficult but Necessary Road.” In both of these articles, as is most of the articles in this collect, David argues that in ethical decision-making, decisions frequently involve making judgments that functionally prioritize legitimate values that are in tension with each other. He contends that the mission of NACSW and Social Work & Christianity has been to walk the difficult middle road—clearly committed to both Christian faith and competent social work practice, not presuming to have the final answers in either, and helping members and readers to come as close to faithfulness and competence as possible.
Helen Wilson Harris, Ed.D., LCSW, Associate Professor of Social Work at the Diana Garland School of Social Work at Baylor University, writes that “My first response to David Sherwood’s eBook compilation of his editorial essays and articles written for Social Work and Christianity through his years as author and editor of the journal was to purchase five copies and send four to faculty colleagues including several new faculty who I mentor. The integration of faith and social work practice is replete with the challenge of prioritizing competing values. Dr. Sherwood’s writing has been and continues to be instructive and informative in my practice and in my teaching. Dr. Sherwood models the principles he teaches and lives a professional and personal life of integrity and wisdom and deep prayer all of which flow from his writing. I will use the resource again and again with students and colleagues and in my own writing."
Lawrence S. Ressler, PhD, Professor of Social Work at Cairn University, shares that The Challenge of Doing the Right Thing is a profound collection of editorials and essays written by Dr. Sherwood over a 37-year period of time. It is must reading for those who at the deepest levels of their hearts, minds and souls have a passion to discover how to do the right thing in the perplexing and ever-changing effort of helping people. It is valuable reading for those who are seriously interested in integrating Christian faith and social work practice and even more valuable reading for those who are suspicious of social workers who attempt to do so."
Denis Costello, MSW, RSW, Executive Director of Catholic Family Services of Toronto, comments that "A frequently consulted and well-accessed copy of David Sherwood's book, The Challenge of Doing the Right Thing, should be close at hand for all Christians in social work. David has written and spoken eloquently on the topic of integrating Christian faith and social work practice. This collection makes the development and deepening of his thinking readily available to the reader. A man of faith, David writes with passion and great hope. This collection will be encouragement to people of faith new to social work, while offering a wonderful opportunity for renewal for those of us who've been in the vineyard for quite a while! This is a book to befriend and to turn to in times of difficulty or confusion.
David A. Sherwood, Ph.D., LICSW, ACSW, received his MA in literature from Vanderbilt University, his MSS from Bryn Mawr, and his Ph.D. in social work from the University of Texas at Austin. His primary research interest is values and ethics and the ethical integration of Christian faith and competent social work practice. He was a social work educator for 35 years, helping to start BSW programs at Oral Roberts University and Gordon College and MSW programs at Roberts Wesleyan College and Baylor University. He served two terms as a Commissioner on the Council on Social Work Education’s Commission on Accreditation and was a site visitor for many years. He has been a member of the North American
Association of Christians in Social Work since 1972, serving as both a board member and as President. He served as Editor of the NACSW’s journal Social Work & Christianity for 34 years.