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My wife reads good stuff, too

My wife wanted me to read this chapter because it made her think of me because it’s about a preacher who decides to be a counselor.

One significant quote that most preachers can relate to:

“How many religious leaders go into ministry with the idea that they’re going to be really great administrators?” -Rick Rittmaster

He had gone through depression and burnout as a preacher.

After getting his Masters in Counseling, he became a chaplain the US Army. He says, “There’s great sadness in the world, and being a chaplain, my role, my journey, is no to deny it or to resist it, but to accept it and to mourn with those who mourn.”

I like that statement.

 

Taken from Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of your Life by Jane Pauley

 

Communion Reflection

A neat thought came to me during worship a couple of weeks ago. I can’t remember the hymn but I started imagining carrying my sins and struggles up a gravel road toward the cross. Whether it was a person, a word, an item that represents a temptation, I carried the heavy load and tossed it at the foot of the cross.

But a few minutes later I had a better idea, a better image, it was of me carrying me toward the cross.

I am the problem. Think about how much you weigh. Even the strongest and smallest of us would get tired of carrying that weight very far or long. And we do.

So I tried to imagine carrying 180 lbs uphill toward a dying, naked man. And arriving, I would fling my heavy body on the rocks beneath my Lord. Let him take it, do whatever with it. Toss my heavy butt on the ground. Give it up. to Him.

That’s what I need.

Still More from Scazzero’s “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality”

Continuing the list of unhealthy behaviors:

8. Covering over Brokenness, Weakness, Failure

The Bible is full of examples of God using sinners, of sinners glorifying in the grace of God. Scazzero points out that David wrote a hymn about his sin with Bathsheba to be used in corporate worship.

Why do we still feel the need to wear masks and pretend we have it all together?

“We are all deeply flawed and broken. There are no exceptions.”

9. Living without Limits

Guilt for never doing enough. No boundaries. Unrealistic expectations.

“Few Christians make the connection between love of self and love of others. Sadly, many believe that taking care of themselves is a sin, a “psychologizing” of the gospel taken from our self-centered culture. I believed that myself for years.”

Jesus didn’t heal every sick person. He didn’t feed every beggar. Why do we feel we have to fix and save every single person to the neglect of our selves.

10. Judging Other People’s Spiritual Journey

“If you are occupied with your own faults, you have no time to see those of your neighbor.”

“We judge the Presbyterians for being too structure. We judge the Pentecostals for lacking structure. We judge Episcopalians for their candles and their written prayers. We judge Roman Catholics for their view of the Lord’s Supper and Orthodox Christians from the eastern part of the world for their strange culture and love of icons.
“By failing to let others be themselves before God and move at their own pace, we inevitably project onto them our own discomfort with their choice to live life differently than we do”

Are we commanded to teach and correct? Sure!

Do you know people churches who are only and constantly correcting, rebuking, fixing other people and churches? Yes. And how do we feel about them? Okay, you say feelings shouldn’t matter.  How EFFECTIVE are they in helping people grow and change??

Emotionally UnHealthy Spirituality, cont.

More Excerpts and Summaries from Peter Scazzero’s book, “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality.”

6. Doing for God instead of Being with God.

I have often wondered if having lots of programs and activities were the best thing for a church. If we are expected to be at the building 4 days a week, how will that affect our living of our faith in the world.  Scazzero deals with the tendency to emphasize and value activity to the neglect of relationship with God/Jesus. I have known Christians and churches who emphasize the work of evangelism so much above the work of sanctification or even discipleship. And the results can big churches full of eternally immature Christians. But with all the people and all the activity, it’s hard to see the downside.

“Praying and enjoying God’s presence for no other reason than to delight in him was a luxury, I was told, that we could take pleasure in once we got to heaven.”

“But work for God that is not nourished by a deep interior life with God will eventually be contaminated by other things such as ego, power, needing approval of and from others, and buying into the wrong ideas of success and the mistaken belief that we can’t fail.”

The result in Scazzero’s eyes is that “our sense of worth and validation gradually shifts from God’s unconditional love for us in Christ to our works and performance.”

7. Spiritualizing Away Conflict

“…the belief that smoothing over disagreements or “sweeping them under the rug” is to follow Jesus continues to be one of the most destructive myths alive in the church today.”

Scazzero said that he personally was the great “peacemaker” who avoided conflict…”so I did what most Christians do: I lied a lot, both to myself and others.”

Specific examples:

  • blame or attack
  • making promises we have no intention of keeping
  • become sarcastic
  • tell half the truth to no hurt someone’s feelings
  • say yes when we mean no

When does too much activity in your life or in your church become a problem?

So, do you agree with the problem of “spiritualizing away conflict?” How do you handle conflict?

Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality (Scazzero)

Continuing the list of Emotionally Unhealthy practices among Christians…..

4. Denying the Past’s Impact on the Present

Obviously this is of great interest to me as a counseling student, but Scazzero’s personal story is practical and telling.  After 9 years of marriage, he and his wife went to counseling.  Only then did they recognize how much of their patterns in life were similar to their parents.

“We were evangelical Christians. We were committed and stable. Our priorities and life choices were very different from that of our parents. Yet, underneath the surface, our marriage bore a striking resemblance to that of our parents’. Gender roles, the handling of anger and conflict and shame, how we defined success; our view of family, children, recreation, pleasure, sexuality, grieving; and our relationships with friends had all been shaped by our families of origin and our cultures.”

There is the spiritual Truth of becoming a “new creation” in Christ. But we assume too much about that.  We often assume our past is irrelevant to our present. We talk about our life “before the Cross” and want to move forward. But how can we truly move forward and be transformed by the Spirit when the past has its tentacles deep in our hearts. And how can we change things we don’t even recognize are unhealthy.  They can be so ingrained and natural that we have justified them for decades.

Maybe you don’t need a therapist. The Holy Spirit is trying to help you realize things that need to be changed.  God is in your life to use whatever He can to teach you and change you.

But we can’t simply stick our heads in the ground and pretend everything is okay.

5. Dividing our Lives into “Sacred” and “Secular” Compartments.

This is a problem that we have all heard sermons about. We are sometimes good Christians on Sunday and then jerks at work and school.

The author shares the stats on divorce, abuse, racism and how many evangelicals live lives that are comparable to the average non-believer.

It’s easy to “do well” at church activities, even sincerely, but God wants more.  He wants every day.  He wants hearts to be changed.  He wants us to love our enemies and the like.

Being actively involved in a church is a step above being a pew sitter. But it is not the same as being a disciple of Jesus who is constantly being transformed into His Image.