“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalms 147:3). Leaders, are you emotionally and spiritually healthy? Our emotional and spiritual health
determines the healthiness of our ministries. Just as Christ wants us to be healthy, He wants a healthy ministry. Often, when leaders are not emotionally and spiritually healthy it affects the church. We began to see a dysfunctional Body of Christ. As we began to work on our own issues resolving and seeking to heal from our own issues then we will see a healthy church. Peter Scazzero reveals vital principles in developing an emotionally and spiritually healthy church in his book, The Emotionally Healthy Church. Four principles he discusses are: look beneath the surface, break the power of the past, live in brokenness and vulnerability, and embrace grieving and loss. These principles take the leaders and ministers on a spiritual journey that will not only impact their lives but also their ministries and bring their relationship with God closer.
Spiritual maturity is a process where God’s purpose of transforming leaders will be accomplished despite all evidence of leaders’ spiritual immaturity, but it takes leaders acknowledging and processing their emotions. As leaders transition from removing layers of emotions that have been buried by church activities and duties, we realize by not processing and not working through our emotions we are not beneficial in helping others in the ministry. Scazzero suggests looking beneath the surface as one principle that will bring forth this change. As leaders look beyond the outer surface of their emotions and where one is at spiritually one must be “painfully honest” with oneself, Scazzero affirms, “Honesty requires fully looking at the whole truth” (75). Leaders have been taught how to teach Bible study and Sunday school, discipleship, and worship etc. but have never been taught how to process their emotions of disappointments, betrayal, rape, etc. These are the issues that we must look beneath the surface and address by unmasking how these emotions have hindered our spiritual maturity. As leaders began to look beneath the surface they can begin to break the power of disappointments,
betrayal, rape etc. which leads them to the second principle: break the power of the past.
Breaking the power of the past causes leaders to become unclothed and transparent. It is at this stage that leaders must take a closer look at which external forces have affected their role in ministry. Scazzero points out, “Numerous external forces may shape us, but the family we have grown up in is the primary and, except in rare instances, the most powerful system that will shape and influence who we are” (90). It is the family that leaders are raised in that dictates how they will interact with others outside and inside the ministry. Scazzero states, “Unless we grasp the power of the past on who we are in the present, we will inevitably replicate those patterns in relationship inside and outside the church” (96). Often ministry is where leaders run and hide from their past, allowing their ministry to clothe they’re hidden of fear, sexual sins, anxiety, frustration, and loneliness, etc. which allows them to be able to move from their past to their present. As leaders allow themselves to become transparent before God, a transformation takes
place that brings healing and the spiritual maturity to help someone else to move from their past to their present. As leaders break the power of their past, they become broken and vulnerable, which is the third principle. The problem that many leaders have with this principle is that, instead of allowing their brokenness and vulnerability to be used to help them grow emotionally and spiritually, they do not deal with the emotion, but instead put on a spiritual visage, bury their pain in some form of addiction, or cover up their emotions. This is where growth and maturity are born from leader’s frailty and imperfections, where God can use us to meet the needs of others.
Scazzero affirms this, “Yet our light as leaders shines most brightly from the very backdrop of our own brokenness and vulnerability. This is our greatest gift to the people we serve” (136). Leaders when you have become broken and vulnerable, you will discover that you have yet to embrace grieving and loss. In a broken state, leaders can realize that they have not truly and completely grieved over a divorce, a death, division of the ministry or broken relationships. When a loss is not appropriately grieved and processed, it will hinder leaders emotionally and spiritually. Scazzero reveals, “Other losses…. unattended to over time, they prevent us from entering into walking freely and honestly with God and others” (161). The loss is an experience that everyone must go through, but as one learns to acknowledge their feelings and the impact of their loss, they will discover new ways to move forward and cope with the pain. Leaders as we incorporate these principles into our personal lives and ministries settings, it will birth an emotionally healthy and spiritually mature body of Christ. As we as leaders begin to look beneath our surfaces, we will mature spiritually and become emotionally healthy. As we as leaders have a deep awareness of who we are, we can better serve and lead our congregation. When leaders have gone beneath their surface, they will begin to transform from the inside out; that will overflow to making their congregation feel safe to allow their true being to develop and grow. As the church body becomes free from its past, it can effectively go into the communities and help others break free from generational curses. The principle of living in brokenness and vulnerability helps both leaders personally and ministries settings to identify with a hurting world. It is through their brokenness and vulnerability that we as leaders will be able to minister to those who are spiritually immature and help them work through their imperfections to grasp the destiny that God has for them. Lastly, to embrace grief and loss in our personal lives and church settings allows the Body of Christ as well as the communities to know that church is not a robotic service, but it is where one can grow through their emotions to become spiritually
Peter Scazzero, The Emotionally Healthy Church: A Strategy for Discipleship that Actually
Changes Lives (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003, 2010).
Jacqueline Goodwin is an ordained pastor and prophetess whose ministry focus is deliverance and healing. She has a passion and heart for the youth which has led her to various positions within the ministry and career field. Since 2002 Goodwin has served as Youth Director, a mentor, and Sunday School teacher within her local church. A former paralegal, educator, and substance abuse counselor who use her gift of empowerment to transform lives within her career field. She has earned a Master of Arts in Practical Theology from Regent University, Master of Counseling from Webster University, Columbia SC, a Master of Pastoral Counseling from Liberty University, Lynchburg VA, an Associate Degree of Paralegal graduating “Magna Cum Laude” from South University and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Francis Marion University, Florence SC.
She currently resides in South Carolina with her son, two daughters, and granddaughter. Her hobbies include running, walking, meditating, and writing, counseling youth and working in the community.