“As goes the leaders, so goes the church” – This is a very popular saying and so true about the times we live in. Many times, secular media, nonbelievers and even believers have many examples to show the skewed,false, unspiritual and unethical practices among leadership. On one hand, it is easy to look at the negative and enter into an attitude of ‘resignation’. However, what does that do to our individual lives? How about our spirituality which must be focused on our ‘Leader’ who is the author and finisher of our faith? How about our daily walk in the footsteps of the spotless, blemishless, selfless and unconditionally loving master Jesus Christ
who shed even the last drop of His blood for our redemption?
True, there is imbalanced Spirituality all around. True that there are too many people are who are fixated at a level of immaturity that the current discipleship models have not addressed. True that the link between emotional health and spiritual maturity is a large unexplored area of discipleship. What can we do in ‘such a time as this’? The words of Mordechai to Esther must reverberate in our ears as we look at the plight of affairs. Our goal must not be to change the church but to allow God to change us. By doing so, we become instruments in God’s hands to change others in and through our lives.
We need to ask a few questions to ourselves. Jesus does call us to die to ourselves. Have we died for the wrong things? Have we limped for so long that the limp now seems normal? Is our godly, lamb like response imitating Jesus or a cover-up for our unresolved emotional baggage that we carry from the past? A subtle message has filtered into us that to be emotional is less than spiritual leading to an attitude that regarded feelings and emotions (negative) as being opposed to the spirit. Many have now become ‘emotionally numb’. What we need is an ‘emotional and spiritual sensitivity’ that will allow us to become more amendable to changes as God wants us to be. How can we develop that?
We need to understand that emotional health is an experience when one is alone and in close relationships with others.
Remember the Emotions of Jesus. He cried – Luke 19:41; He was filled with Joy – Luke 10:21; He was
grieved – Luke 14:34; He was angry – Mark 3:5; He became sad –Matthew 26:37; He felt sorrow – Luke 7:13;
He was astonished in wonderment –Mark 6:6 and Luke 7:9;
He was distressed – Mark 3:5 and Luke 12:50.
He went through every emotion that we go through on a regular basis. We need to understand that these emotions ‘teach us’ a lesson so that our future will be ‘brighter and better’.
We must be able to look beneath the surface (Pain will be the stimulus when we go beneath). It is
developing an awareness of what I am feeling and doing; asking the ‘why’ and ‘what’s going on’ question; knowing the all sufficiency of Jesus and the freedom we enjoy to all things through the atonement of the cross; and getting rid of any ‘glittering image’ that we keep as a mask the ‘disallows’ us from ‘learning
from our emotions’ and ultimately became ‘well discipled’.
We must be able to break the power of the past.
Identify how our family shaped us. Our family is the most powerful and influential group that has affected who we are today. In addition, we must discern the major influences in our life. Events and people impact who we are today and will help us understand what makes ‘us tick’. Through His blood, we become ‘re-parented’. Re-parenting through repentance gives us a new life that obliterates the ‘penalty’ of the past sin and curse. We must find value and worth in Christ first and not church or others.
We must be able to live in brokenness and vulnerability.
Develop a theology of weakness – God releases the curse to drive us to our knees and to seek him and to recognize the need for a savior. Paul argues for the authenticity in his leadership by appealing to his
weakness. It is Jesus in us and not our abilities and talents (2nd Corinthians 12: 8-10). Accept our ‘gift’ of a handicap. Work as a cracked pot in the hands of the potter. Transition to a life based on our weakness but the grace of Christ. Sense God’s love in Christ and Holy Spirit’s power in a new way. Success is not being the strong one but being the weak one who is being made strong by God. Follow the prodigal son as a ‘model’ in recognizing his neediness and responding positively. Can we become people who receive the ‘gift of limits’?
Do we become resentful and bitter toward others for not ‘suffering’ for Christ? Recognize that Jesus
embraced human limits and learn to discern our limitations in our emotional, physical, and intellectual capacities; negative emotions; and scars and wounds from the past.
We must embrace the reality of possible ‘loss and grieving’.
Our Christian life is notalways a bed of roses. There are valleys of tears and mountains of joy that go
hand in hand. The soul grows larger through suffering. Let grief and loss that happen from time to time develop maturity. Try to avoid superficial forgiveness as forgiveness is not a quick process. If we are grieved or hurt by the words or actions of others, let the grieving process take its course and allow the
Lord to start the healing. Recognize that we sometimes ‘live in the confusing in-between’. David’s
psalms are three types; Orientation (I praise the O Lord because you are my maker), Disorientation (why have you allowed men to ride over me) and Reorientation (Blessed be the Lord who has helped me in my distress). Psalm 66 is a perfect example of this process.
We must make incarnation the model of loving and living.
It is more than empathy. Empathy is putting ourselves in the shoes of others. Incarnational model is when one sees and acts through the ‘eyes of Christ’. Incarnation is doing more than physically entering other people’s world. We enter into the other person’s world – we listen, learn and be present. Always remember, to ‘hold onto ourselves at the same time’. Recognize that we hang between two worlds; one is that of ours and the other that of the others. By becoming emotionally and spiritually healthy, we reach this point but at the same time have the maturity and the sensitivity to ‘take a break’ if we recognize that we are the point of ‘breaking ourselves’
Our growth into Christlikeness requires us to get rid of our old, hard, protective shells and allow God to take
us to new places in Him through Mentoring, Patience and Prayer.
Let us all strive to be FAT – Faithful, Available, and Teachable.
Rev. Leslie Verghese