posted on: Jul 19, 2013
Unfortunately, we were unable to record the first of six sessions of the Healthy series. We do apologize. In an attempt to make up for that I will post the key points.
Pete Scazzero writes the following in his book The Emotionally Healthy Church, “Emotional health and Spiritual maturity are inseparable. It is not possible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.”
This is the foundational statement that we are working from over the six-week series.
Here’s how that statement applies to my life…
When we started the church I felt equipped in terms of my biblical knowledge, sure there is more to know, but overall, I felt that I had enough to lead a church plant.
I was very rooted in the truth that we can’t earn a works righteousness. Our righteousness is a gift from Jesus that we freely receive.
Essentially, biblical knowledge wasn’t the issue. (Again, not saying I am a well versed theologian, just saying that I felt that I had enough to get started.)
But what I wasn’t ready for was the emotional pressures of leading a church.
· I wasn’t prepared to have people tell me I was a hypocrite.
· I didn’t know how to handle it when people criticized how I parented.
· I didn’t have a clue how to graciously confront people who were living in sin and yet called themselves Christians.
· I took criticism of the church very personally.
· I’ve been told to my face that I don’t have what it takes to lead a church.
· I didn’t know how to say no to some fun preaching opportunities that would really hurt my family life.
I am more likely to bury my emotions than to express them clearly. My wife is the opposite. As you can imagine, this can be an issue in our marriage.
At the end of the day, immature emotions prevent us from loving well. Which is the end game. Love God, love people.
As always, it’s extremely helpful to look to Jesus not only for our salvation, but for a model of true life. Jesus was the ultimate man. He had the ability to separate himself from the crowds, his family and his disciples. His relationship with his Father freed him from the pressures around him. He didn’t let others set his agenda.
But we can’t miss the fact that the Gospel writers record Jesus’ raw emotions.
He shed tears (Luke 19:41)
He was filled with joy (Luke 10:21)
He grieved (Mark 14:34)
He was angry (Mark 3:5)
Sadness came over him (Matt. 26:37)
He felt compassion (Luke 11:35)
He felt sorrow (John 11:35)
He showed astonishment and wonder (Mark 6:6, Luke 7:9)
He felt distress (Mark 3:5, Luke 12:50)
He was fully man, emotions and all.
Dan Allender and Tremper Longman provide this insight into emotions in their book The Cry of The Soul,
“Ignoring our emotions is turning our back on reality; listening to our emotions ushers us into reality. And reality is where we meet God… Emotions are the language of the soul. They are the cry that gives our heart a voice… In neglecting our intense emotions, we are false to ourselves and lose a wonderful opportunity to know God. We forget that change comes through brutal honesty and vulnerability before God.”
All that said, the first session was called Look Beneath The Surface.
I showed a picture of an iceberg. 10% of the iceberg sits above water, while 90% sits below the surface. This is much like humans. We allow people to see 10% of us while we hide and wrestle with the other 90%.
But an authentic relationship with Jesus takes us into the depth, into the shadows, into the deep parts of our souls. He wants to redeem and restore all of us, not just the 10%. This is good news, but it can be a painful journey at times.
It’s been said, “We change our behavior when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing.”
Truth is, there is always something lying beneath the emotion we are feeling.
When we feel emotions that are intense it helps to ask the WHY question. Why am I feeling this way?
For instance… Why do I feel ________________? Then, it’s followed by another question.
RAGE/ANGER: “How was I hurt?”
FRUSTRATION: “What did I feel helpless about?”
SHAME: “What was I hiding?”
RESENTMENT: “What did I expect or hope for?”
DEPRESSION: “What did I lose?”
JEALOUSY: “Where did I feel inadequate?”
Here is a very helpful exercise. This is best done with a friend or spouse on a regular basis. It won’t help to do this once. If you don’t have anyone to do this with, do it with God. Envision him asking you the following questions.
NOTE: The question asker is just there to ask the question and to listen well: Eye contact, not distracted, nodding their head, attentive.
They are NOT there to fix! Just listen. Just allow them to get under the surface and see where their emotions are coming from. To be clear, you don’t address their feelings with a solution. Just strive to understand.
David Augsburger wrote, “Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.” So, be a good listener!
Here are the questions…
WHAT ARE YOU ANGRY ABOUT?
WHAT ARE YOU SAD ABOUT?
WHAT ARE YOU ANXIOUS ABOUT OR AFRAID OF?
WHAT ARE YOUR HAPPY ABOUT?
We finished with taking an inventory of our emotional and spiritual health. You can get a copy of that inventory by emailing the office, firstname.lastname@example.org
Next week we will tackle the subject of Break The Power Of The Past.
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