Resilient Church Leaders, Half 3: Psychological Ideas on Religion and the Church The Alternate

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Question 1: Young people and their struggle with fear seem high today. What do you recommend from a church perspective? "

A study published just last year showed a worrying increase (over 70 percent) in mental stress (e.g. mood disorders such as anxiety, depression and suicide risk) between millennials and generation Z. There is probably no single reason for this increase in mental health Health research suggests that the rise in social media, the increase in electronic communications, and fewer children who get enough sleep are likely part of the problem.

The Church plays an important role in caring for young people and can be a particularly important resource for young people who may have been rejected by other groups.

Having social support, including meaningful connections to peers, secure family ties, and deliberate connections to mentors, is one of the most accurate methods of predicting mental health. As adolescents are less and less accustomed to personal forms of connection, it is important that Church leaders become more persistent and deliberate in inviting adolescents to the personal physical community. Keep going and offer a connection to teenagers who rarely or never answer.

The Church should at best be a place of greeting and protection for young people who need refuge in a world of conditional love and flat communication. We can model true Christian community by letting every child know that their presence is an integral part of the life of the Church.

However, the Church is more than a social association and has the primary responsibility to lead young people into a life lived in the love of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

The Church has such great news, full of hope and joy, and the good news of God's love and redemption is changing life just as it has in the past two millennia. Still, we would do our young people bad service if we jump straight to Easter without traveling through the suffering of Lent and Holy Week.

It can be tempting to tell a young person struggling with mental health that he or she should be happy simply because "God loves them." However, the more difficult (and even more helpful) answer is to be inspired by the psalms and prophets and teach young people how to bring their pain, anger, and lamentation to God.

Inviting desperate youths and encouraging them to express their darkest feelings within the walls of the church may not feel intuitive, but both the scriptures and psychology show that free expression of negative feelings such as sadness and anger is often a necessary precursor to the formation of a is secure and lasting relationship with others and God.

An important way to make room for these feelings in the church is to normalize the presence of mental illness. When young people in leadership positions hear about anxiety, depression, and other mental health problems, they get the message that these things are normal and safe.

It can be particularly effective if leaders are willing to talk about their own mental health problems. In this way, the Church can help young people who are struggling with fear by welcoming them to whatever they are struggling with, providing them with social support, and deliberately making room for their fears, doubts, traumas, and fears at their feet of the cross.

Question 2: How does a pastor with mental illness deal with hypocrisy?

The biblical definition of belief is “the certainty of the things hoped for. The conviction of things that you cannot see. “Throughout the Bible, the men and women with great faith are not the ones who have had the most constant emotional experience of God's love.

Instead, the heroes of our faith are people who have been humble, trusting, and obedient in word and deed, regardless of how they feel. Job trusted the Lord, even though he had lost everything and longed for death. David praised God almost in the same breath that he accused God of leaving him. In his moment of greatest obedience on the cross, Jesus himself asked God why he had left him.

Many Christians suffer from hypocrisy, not because they are true hypocrites (true hypocrites rarely worry about such things), but because they have gotten into a worldly cultural mindset that states that feelings are the ultimate measure of what is truth.

However, this is not the biblical perspective. Jesus doesn't say, "Gather feelings of faith." Instead, he says, "Follow me." While we are often tempted to equate belief with a lack of doubt, research on Christian spiritual development shows that periods of deep questions and doubts can actually be a crucial part of building a mature belief.

Saint John of the Cross is known for his writings on the "dark night of the soul". One of the defining features of the dark night is that all feelings of emotional closeness to God have disappeared. Saint John describes this as a necessary step in spiritual development. When he compares it to how a human mother puts her child down so that she can learn to walk, he explains that God can withdraw the emotional feeling of his presence so that we can find our relationship with him more stable by believing hold on through darkness and experience the eventual survival of the apparent separation and reappearance of our feeling of closeness.

While preaching God's love without feeling it emotionally is sometimes painful, the Orthodox tradition does not call it hypocrisy.

Finally, it should be noted that feelings of numbness or emotional darkness can be associated with a time of spiritual growth, but life stressors and mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, trauma and marital problems can also play a major role.

It is particularly important for ministers to identify people in their lives with whom they can be honest about these painful feelings, as constant focus on others can easily lead to dangerous isolation. Talking to a spiritual leader, a trusted mentor, or a Christian therapist can be extremely helpful in understanding the reason for these painful feelings.

Question 3: What are your recommendations for spiritual leaders who work in collaboration with psychiatric professionals?

Research shows that multidisciplinary mental health treatment (i.e., communication and coordination between professional carers from multiple specializations) is more helpful to the person being treated. Therefore, both psychiatric professionals and spiritual leaders would benefit from working together in their work.

An important first step for this coordination is to obtain a form of information disclosure signed by your directive that will allow you to share relevant information about the person with their mental health provider.

It can also be important for spiritual leaders to have a basic understanding of scientific and psychological support for soul care and a commitment to religious and spiritual practices as part of a client's positive coping and healing journey. This understanding can be particularly important when you are connected to a secular mental health worker, as spirituality and religion are sometimes overlooked as an aspect of diversity and strength in psychological education and training.

The ability to clearly articulate the relevance of spirituality to a client's mental health provider could improve understanding and commitment to effective and mutually supportive collaboration between spiritual leaders and mental health professionals.

More will come in part 4.

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