Friday, August 22, 2008

HALT for Clergy

One of my colleagues shared a learning from the 12-Step community. It is a reminder to stop and reassess situations and make better decisions. It requires us to be aware of self-needs so that we don't act out of our worst selves.

HALT stands for hungry, angry, lonely, tired. When I am too hungry, angry, lonely, tired, I should hold off making decisions and taking actions while caring for the need that presents itself.

We all have our limits. The clergy and church professional trap is that we should be like Jesus and empty ourselves regardless of cost. That idea comes from a poor reading of Philippians 2:7: "He emptied himself and became a slave when he became one of us." (CEV) What Jesus was emptying himself of was his divinity, his God-ness, in order to become one of us, to take on a physical body.

A more helpful reading might suggest that the flow of our life together may be one that takes us beyond just self-concern in mind and spirit and action. We need emptying of ego. We need deliverance from our ourselves. The verses that proceed the hymn (Philippians 2: 1-5) seem to bear this out.

The choice is often between playing the role of superman/superwoman OR ordinary human being, albeit filled with the Spirit and fully alive in Jesus. The super-clergyperson does not HALT; the one who is growing in awareness of themselves sees the wisdom of doing so.

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