Friday, November 17, 2006

pastors and addiction

Sally Morgenthaler, author of the highly recognized book Worship Evangelism, saw her husband go to prison due to his sexual addiction. She's saying that she believes that pastoral ministry can actually nurture harmful addictive behavior. Leadership's Out of Ur blog shares a blurb from an upcoming article to appear in Leadership magazine. Sally writes:
For over two decades, the entrepreneurial, multi-programmed church has been altering what people expect out of a church, and the concept of the church leader has also changed. Pastors must be visionaries, risk-takers, and innovators, as well as spiritual guides. They are expected to be top-of-the-heap speakers as well, their stage skills honed to the highest cultural standards.

Realistically, very few pastors are cut out for this kind of leadership. The average pastor may be at his best as teacher, coach, or theological guide. He might shine as a catalyst: a convener of collaborative vision and process; a facilitator of deep community. If he tends toward the empathetic and intuitive, he may excel as a nurturer, counselor, wound-dresser, or heart-holder. But he is not megachurch material.

Tragically, some of these so-called misfits will turn to an addiction, an escape out of what they see as a no-win proposition: become someone else, fit the mold, or fail. Instead of pushing back on leadership stereotypes that have long deserved questioning; instead of focusing on their strengths and becoming who God crafted them to be, they cave in.


Armando said...

Jason, thanks for this post. I've replied on Out of Ur ... in similar terms to a previous answer in your blog. Actually, the problem with addiction is that it is symptomatic of brokenness. Dealing with brokenness is not easy at all, and few are willing to come to terms with the fact that due to the fall we are all somehow wounded. I've been through Living Waters Programme (have you heard about it?), I'm part now of the staff in Brussels, and run short programmes in my church. What comes out very clearly is that people need the space for sharing their struggles without the fear of being rejected, judged or ostracized. Very few churches offer such environement (safety?). I was touched by reading Haggards story ... it wasn't till he stopped talking about his problem that it became a giant ... Psalm 32 ... "as long as I stayed silent, my bones wasted away" (poor translation from Spanish). This is true today for each of us.
Challenge: are we willing to offer safe environements to believers and even unbelievers?

Jason Woolever said...

thanks for sharing your journey armando. i'll have to check out the living waters programme.