...self care is never a selfish act- it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.

Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

Monday, March 8, 2010

Non-Compliance: Pastor Heal Thyself

Why is it that so many of us don't follow the informed advice or directives of professionals from dentists to doctors, from therapists to spiritual directors? Lately I've come across a rash of encounters where it seems the posture of "I don't want to, I'm not going to, and nobody can make me" is as much apart of the problem as any medical evaluation.

Reasons for resistance surely vary. For example, one fear is that it will make my condition worse, not better. Another concern may be cost. Yet another is stigma depending on the condition being treated. When a dear friend first sought relief from anxiety/panic attacks, the problem actually got worse! Since taking on a new spiritual discipline was apart of the therapy, the treatment incorporated the spiritual as much as it did the body and mind.

We may not like the loss of control inherent in any therapy. We'd rather choose what and what not to follow, to question in wisdom any course of action. No one can or should take that right away. But then clergy shouldn't disparage that their counsel and advice isn't regarded. "You're nothing but show-offs! First, take the log out of your own eye. The you can see how to take the speck out of your friend's eye." Matthew 7:5 CEV

Pastors are precariously, if not dangerously, on their own to follow their own or any professional's advice. While peer groups are helpful, and many tout their importance, I wonder how many clergy are really in a functioning group or spiritual direction relationship. Personally, I may not like what the directive is, whether it has to do with my spiritual or physical health. But if I don't care enough to be the least bit self-aware, how can I hope to lead others in discerning their own truth?

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Having been in ordained ministry in the UMC for 34 years, I've experienced the truth that although, clergy are frequently present for others, no one can offer what they don't have.That's why if you're a clergy person, you need someone who will listen to you. Not the random next closest person available, but rather someone like a spiritual director, a therapist, a peer who can be fully present to you. I hope the links and posts you find here will give you ideas, humor, hope and encouragement. Scott Endress

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If you want a formula for making the best of the less-than-perfect and making the most of what you have been given, then begin to compare your lot to what you were before you were born, and it will empower you with wonder every time. John Claypool

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