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  • Writer's pictureAl Haywood

Mental Health and the Church


 People are needy.  You’d never know it by being at church on Sundays.  Most churches become a “museum of saints” as opposed to a “hospital for sinners”. 

 

Pathway Christian Counseling began in 2007.  It was not an easy start.  I was a pastor and it was very obvious that the leadership of my church was not in favor of me spending so much time counseling hurting and needy people.  The desired purpose for my pastorate was to tickle ears and applaud apathy.  But that’s not who I am and I’m not here to discuss that.

 

As our ministry has continued for 17 years, it has become increasingly evident that mental health is becoming more of an issue.  Personally, my wife and I have had multiple crises that have caused us to seek God’s heart on a deeper level.  But I’m also seeing deeper emotional issues than ever before.  It is not unusual to talk with teenagers that are involved in sex, drugs, the occult, and more.  I never thought that I would be the one to officiate a funeral for four year-old twin brothers who were drowned at the hands of their mother.  And then PTSD is a common issue among those who are stressed and anxious.  We typically associate PTSD with veterans but the truth is that it can arise from ANY past traumas – sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, verbal abuse, involvement in an auto accident resulting in a death, school shootings, pressure to excel in sports and more.  Sexual promiscuity is presented as the norm from television and movies.  And we haven’t even touched social media or the emotional issues from dealing with a COVID pandemic!

 

What is the church doing about this?  Are we addressing it as a priority? Jesus was a man of emotion.  He cried, He laughed, He empathized, He expressed anger (the righteous type), yet He didn’t sin in the process.  As broken humans, we are apt to express our emotions in a negative and sinful way.  Repentance is rare.  Yes, we are sorry.  Not because we are repentant but because we got caught.  We are stingy with forgiveness, mercy and grace.  Our negative emotions stem from deep hurt.  I’m concerned that we are condescending to those who are deeply hurting and that we do a great job in masking our own issues. 

 

What does the Father want us to do?  As Christians? He even went so far as to name His Son, “Wonderful Counselor”.  His Word says it all....

 

Philippians 2:1-4. So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

 

Counseling is discipleship.

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