This morning I started thinking about some time that I spent in Bethesda, Maryland. For two years (1990’s), I studied under Dr. Edwin Friedman, a former Jewish rabbi, who wrote one spent the remainder of his life teaching church leaders etc. what it means to be emotionally healthy (both the leader and the church). Working with Dr. Friedman meant going to Bethesda (where he lived and conducted his work) two to three times over the course of a year. (He died a few months after the last time that I met with his group).
Friedman believed that a church was an emotional "system" where people often triangle with one another. Probably the most important thing that I learned from his was "self-definition". In other words, move beyond reacting to your family of origin issues and the emotional issues in the church to defining who you are as a human being.
Sometimes, I think that churches are far too accepting and accommodating to emotional immaturity. In other words, we don’t challenge one another to grow up–not only spiritually but emotionally as well. (I have just began reading The Emotionally Healthy Church (Peter Scazzero) which has stimulated some of these thoughts). Some examples include:
- Children who grow up in homes where dad is very visible at church on Sunday and Wednesday but who is an absolute tyrant to live with. Talk about confusing!
- Church leaders who are self-absorbed and have a way of manipulating in order to meet their own emotional needs.
- People who are seen as very good people but who have left a long trail of broken relationships in every community where they’ve lived.
- Christians who slander others within the body of Christ for years and yet, some believe that these people might one day be "happy" in the church.
- Marriages that never seem to grow beyond me-centeredness.
- Christians who will not reveal their true emotions or feelings to people around them (about most anything).
- Dads and moms who are love their children but who are distant and aloof from them emotionally.
Those are very real situations that I have seen through the years. They reflect lots of emotional immaturity. What makes them very difficult is there is usually a lot of talk about God, his will, what he wants etc. which sometimes only serves to mask the immaturity at work.
As I begin this day, I realize that I can not compartmentalize my life from Jesus. Being a Godly person is not just about reading the Bible, praying, and being or doing "good". Rather, my entire life is to come under the Lordship of Jesus. That involves such things as:
- My emotional attentiveness to my wife.
- The way I handle money.
- How I treat my body.
- The way I treat other people.
- How I talk about other people.
This gets personal…