Many emotional problems (sometimes diagnosed as “personality disorders”) are symptoms of a soul disconnected from God, from self, and from others. What most people experiencing such problems need and long for is to be connected again.
This process of becoming connected should take place in the context of community. The church has the potential to be a powerful healing community. Unfortunately, this level of community rarely occurs in churches today.
Churches often make one of two fundamental mistakes. The first mistake is seeing all problems as relating to a stubborn will. In this view, the “cure” is to provide biblical instruction to incite repentance, followed by a monitoring system of accountability.
The second mistake is the psycho-therapeutic approach, which sees all emotional problems in terms of mental disease. According to this view, the “cure” is to provide professional “insight” into the root causes.
Both approaches miss the point. The moralistic approach fails to comprehend the Christian faith as a covenant of grace implanting goodness into the core of the soul. The therapeutic approach fails to provide the healing that occurs when people connect.
True connection occurs when one pours out spiritual energy from the well of his or her own inner reservoir into the heart of a troubled colleague or friend. When this is done, the goodness within is stimulated and encouraged to come forth in all its beautiful vitality. We do not have to be professional counselors to provide real and life-changing help. We do, however, need a deep well from which to draw.
We must also believe there is goodness at the root of every individual heart. This goodness may be hidden by severe disconnectedness, but as we understand and embrace the way of Christ, we assume its presence. We count on it and we sense a vision for people based on the conviction that God’s Spirit wants to do something in and through them.
Of course, we must also deal with the fallen side of our nature, which the Bible calls the “flesh.” The flesh drives us to do things hurtful to ourselves and others. When we connect with people, we emphasis the positive vision, but we also help one another wrestle with the dark side, which is hindering that vision.
As I was thinking about these things, I realized how often I am in no condition to help others because I failed to fill my own spiritual vessel through fellowship with God. I also asked myself if this really has anything to do with leadership and my answer was, “It depends.” It depends on how you define leadership. I happen to believe that a huge part of leadership is helping people connect. With connection comes emotional health and with emotional health comes greater productivity and satisfaction.
What about you? Are you allowing God to use you as a creator of connection?
Dr. Greg Waddell is passionate about helping church leaders equip their people for ministry. He believes there is wild potential in every believer that begs to be released. He can help you develop and implement practical strategies for increasing the ministry capacity of your congregation.