Emotionally Healthy Discipleship
I remember the moment my machine gun was ripped from my hands. No it wasn’t at the men’s event this past weekend. It was on the outskirts of a military base in Oklahoma. It was 1977. My dad was there for some National Guard training. I was four-years-old, playing with my prized plastic machine gun. It even made a cool “rata-tat-tat” sound when you pulled the trigger. But the five-year-old bully that lived across the apartment complex had hunted me down and seized my precious possession out of my hands. Then, right in front of my eyes, he snapped it across his upper thigh like Bo does a baseball bat. But unlike a real soldier, my tears flowed, while beady-eyed Kenny ran off laughing.
It’s a tragic story (at least to me), however with the passage of time, I’ve learned to laugh about it. But what’s not funny is when this story is repeated among adults in the church. Two people have an interaction, one of the two is hurt, and rather than dealing with it, the other runs off laughing (or, just runs).
Peter Scazzero, in his book Emotionally Healthy Discipleship says it this way: “I’ve become convinced that… a robust and in-depth discipleship for our people requires that we address at least four fundamental failures” As to the first, he says, churches tend to “tolerate emotional immaturity.” He lists a number of examples of ways we become “blind to many glaring inconsistencies.” Here’s just one: “You can function as a leader and yet be unteachable, insecure, and defensive.” Ouch.
Last Sunday I wrapped up part two of the three-part “Pastor’s Class,” a class I teach once a quarter during the Life Group hour for those that are new to the church. One of the first things I share is my three-part vision for every member of Valley View. The second of three statements goes like this: “My prayer is that every person at Valley View would be flourishing and growing spiritually, personally, and emotionally (John 10:10).” For some reason emotional growth is often left out of the equation in churches. We tend to focus so heavily on Bible knowledge and spiritual disciplines, that somehow we spend less time on growing our emotional and relationship skills, like conflict resolution and “loving your neighbor as yourself.”
I’m not trying to break your machine gun today. Here’s the point of all this heavy load: We need to be simultaneously growing in our love of God and love for others. In fact, my encouragement to you today is to spend some time praying for the “beady-eyed Kenny” in your life (please don’t call them that). Who is someone who has hurt you and run? Pray that God would give wisdom for how to love them well.
This is a big part of the reason I’m praying for God to provide the remaining $51,543 for the Fellowship Hall walls soon. The more time we spend together, the more chances we have to gather and build community, the more we will build trust and relationships over time. And the more we trust one another, the more God will use Valley View to reach Valley Station, PRP, and Southwest Louisville!