Issues & Solution: Pastors & Spouses

Listen and Encourage

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad. Hope deferred maketh the heart sick: but when the desire cometh, it is a tree of life. A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth: and a word spoken in due season, how good is it! Proverbs 25:11, 12: 25, 13:12, 15:23, King James Version

Something very exciting and wonderful happened to me last night and I felt like I was going to explode with happiness but there was nobody around that I could share it with so I lost some of the joy and excitement that I was feeling. It was like someone had taken a pin and pricked a balloon and some of the air went out of the balloon.

While it is important that we listen to people when they are hurting, I believe it is just as important, if not more important to listen to them when they are excited. If we stay on the mountain tops of happiness, excitement and joy, we will spend far less time down in the valleys of despair, hopelessness, depression and discouragement.

Don’t let anyone tell you that it is impossible to stay on the mountain tops because that is a lie straight from the pits of hell! Yes, we will have times of discouragement, loneliness and despair due to difficult circumstances, heartaches, criticism, ridicule, scorn and sarcasm. However if Jesus lives in our hearts, He will be faithful to once again refresh our hearts with His understanding, joy, unconditional love, happiness, mercy, grace and kindness. Indeed, Jesus is able to keep us on the mountain tops.

Two years ago, I received an email from a pastor who was very discouraged and hurting. He told me “I preach my heart out and nobody says “Amen,” smiles or laughs at the humorous points in my sermons.” He said that he had been the pastor at this church for five years and no one had ever invited him and his wife to dinner. The pastor told me “I love God and it is my desire to serve Him, but I am human and sometimes I get very discouraged. Would you please pray for me?” How my heart went out to Him!

Know the Difference: Healthy or Unhealthy Support System?

“Know the difference between those who stay to feed the soil and those who come to grab the fruit.”


This sobering statement recently came to my attention. I don’t know who originally said it, but it resonates, all the same.

It has personally factored in heavily as I have learned, firsthand, who was a part of my healthy support system…and who was NOT.

Indeed, this concept plays a MAJOR role for each of us as we navigate our addiction/recovery journeys. It is usually not too long in life, before we encounter the all too common cliché dysfunction of co-dependency, narcissism and/or exploitation.

Life Choices: Thermometer or Thermostat?

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he… Proverbs 23:7

Senator Cory Booker, on an appearance of “The Daily Show,” recently shared a powerful lesson with the audience:

“My father told me there are two ways to go through life: as a thermometer or as a thermostat. A thermometer: whatever someone says about you, you go up or down. A thermostat: you set the temperature.”

Both the thermometer and the thermostat reflect life and its issues, including our stance on addiction and recovery.

And our choice has significant ramifications concerning health, well-being and prosperity. Each option offers its inevitable results.

So, it might be worth our while to ponder what those very results may mean for us.

First, the thermometer: its appeal is that self-gratifying moment. It doesn’t require much work. You just let your feelings rip.

Are You Lacking Kindness?

Kindness:
This attribute is powerful, possessing tremendous relevance and meaning.

According to The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, some of the benefits include:

  • A rush of euphoria, followed by a longer period of calm, after performing a kind act is often referred to as a “helper’s high”, involving physical sensations and the release of the body’s natural painkillers, the endorphins. This initial rush is then followed by a longer-lasting period of improved emotional wellbeing.

Resources for Wounded Pastors

How Christians in Recovery can Help You:

    Get Support

      Pastors, Recovery Professionals and Group Leaders need help and encouragement too.

      Christians in Recovery provides information, resources and community to help you. Network with others working in the recovery field. Get the help and support you need.

Who or What is Your Miracle Worker?

“Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”
Jeremiah 32:27

I recently caught the 1960 Academy Award winning film, “The Miracle Worker.” It portrays the relationship of Helen Keller and that of her groundbreaking teacher, Annie Sullivan.

Most of us know the basics to the story. Helen Keller was blind, deaf and mute and, before Sullivan’s arrival, seemingly hopeless in her circumstances. If she could not see, hear or speak, how could she ever communicate, let alone, live in the world?

The situation looked bleak.

That was until Sullivan’s arrival…

Memories: Ouch!

Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation;
and uphold me with thy free spirit.
Psalm 51:12


Autumn floods me with childhood memories of locusts inhabiting our farm and caterpillars on twigs, kept on mason jars, just waiting to become monarch butterflies.

And, with that flooding, often comes the tinged bittersweet feelings that accompany a childhood innocence of long ago.

I recently caught a funny post on the internet. It read: “Memories: Ouch!”

They say humor is humor because it is unflinching truth. And that certainly was the case with this post.

How is Your Spiritual Heart Health?

God has been teaching me His way concerning heart health. The condition of my physical heart mirrored the state of my spiritual heart. Through a physical and spiritual heart catheterization He exposed blockages, which left untreated, would be my certain physical and spiritual demise. He exposed areas of my heart that were still wounded and thus divided. I suspect I am not alone in this process.

According to the parable of the sower, Jesus teaches that It is from our hearts that we gain all spiritual guidance and understanding.

“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop” Luke 8:15 NIV.

“All valid spiritual direction comes to us through our heart-the seat of true knowing and our “eyes and ears” in the spirit. If we discern the “will of God” it is through our heart. Knowing our true identity and destiny is achieved through our hearts as well.” “Living from the Heart Jesus Gave You”, pg.67, published by Shepherd’s House, Inc. revised version 2000.

As a direct result of these remaining heart blockages, I was no longer able to fully hear, retain, or re-produce a good crop from the word that had been so wonderfully planted in my heart for decades. The ability to correctly discern, know and understand Papa’s will or my true identity and destiny as Papa’s beloved son were being robbed from me. In this state, my capacity for joy was weakened. Of course my loved ones were profoundly affected by my heart disease as well (which of course there has been profound mercy and the amazing grace of forgiveness).

When your heart has blockages, your core identity becomes at best skewed and can even lose touch with reality. You are less able to live from the new heart Jesus gave you as your birthright. You even can end up not behaving or acting like who you truly are-an adopted child of God. Probably the most devastating part of this condition is being blocked from enjoying Christ in your heart. He-of course, will never leave us or forsake us-but our intimacy with Him can be diminished.

I am being so transparent about this in hopes to impart the courage for you to ask Papa to search your heart and know truth in your inner most parts, as King David did. This is why he was “called a man after God’s own heart.”

The single goal of heart healing is to

The Irony of Resisting Change

The adventure of life is to learn.
The purpose of life is to grow.
The nature of life is to change.
The challenge of life is to overcome.
The essence of life is to care.
The opportunity of life is to serve.
The secret of life is to dare.
The spice of life is to befriend.
The beauty of life is to give.
~ William Arthur Ward

It’s raining steadily and that always makes me glad to be inside and comfortable in my own surroundings with simple comforts close at hand.

It also disposes my mind to become more reflective and focused on what is important and relevant.

A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition.”
~ William Arthur Ward

How strange that though change is the dynamic of life, the nature of human beings is to resist change. The irony being that the very circumstances that we fear could ruin us may be the ones that open us to the blooming potential of who we were meant to be.

Change, like sunshine, can be a friend or a foe, a blessing
or a curse, a dawn or a dusk.
~William Arthur Ward

Sometimes there are no answers to life’s questions. Accepting the things we cannot change, without question, shows a strength of character that few possess.

Compassion Fatigue

I am not bound to win, but I am bound to be true.
I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live
by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody
that stands right, and stand with him while he is right,
and part with him when he is wrong. ~ Abraham Lincoln


Compassion is defined as “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”

Compassion fatigue is a form of burnout that manifests itself as physical, emotional and spiritual exhaustion. Clinically it is defined as a more user friendly term for Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder which is nearly identical to PTSD, except it affects those who are affected by the trauma of another, perhaps a family member, friend, acquaintance or client.

Caregivers and therapists/practitioners who serve others are particularly prone to this condition. In the broader picture, I believe that many of us are experiencing compassion fatigue as it relates to the world at large. We are assailed by the news
of war, crime, disease, famine and natural disasters. Reportedly, thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of innocents are being raped, kidnapped, brutalized, tortured, sold into slavery or the sex trade, forced to leave their homes and livelihoods, renounce their religions or be crucified and as is becoming more common, beheaded.