We have read how carrying out a ministry has become a challenge for pastors today. Social networks, conflicts, the COVID-19 crisis, the effects it has produced in a social, psychological and emotional level, among other aspects, have made pastors face unprecedented realities, both in their inner world and the world of those they minister. Then, the question arises, how to minister with a broken identity? How can you help others when you, as a pastor, are facing your own struggles in life? How can you give others the support they need and that you feel you cannot give? I will show you how you can do it.
This is an indispensable discipline. There can be no change in your life without self-knowledge. It involves seeing ourselves clearly, being aware of our thoughts, our emotions; be aware of how our pain leads us to see ourselves and others in dysfunctional ways, and how that impacts us.
Saint Augustine said: How can you get closer to God when you are so far from yourself? And he prayed, “Lord, let me know myself so that I can know you”.
Your healing and freedom begin with self-knowledge.
Car Jung said the following: “When you make the unconscious conscious, you can choose”. We cannot change something of what we are not aware.
Let me explain the idea: the mind has two dimensions. Three, according to Freud. But I will only talk about the two most important of them, the conscious and the unconscious. The conscious is what I have in my mind at the moment, the short-term memory. In the unconscious I have all the positive and negative experiences stored, traumas, sad memories, all the long-term memory. But, the thing is that these aspects are not in a conscious level.
Most interesting of all is that 95% of my daily decisions come from my unconscious. Who directs my life is my unconscious, not my conscious. I am being driven by the mindsets, life scripts and core beliefs that I have developed throughout my life and are stored in my unconscious.
That is why we end up doing the things we do not want to do, because many times we are directed by the interpretations that we have unconsciously given to the experiences we have had in our lives. If those experiences have not been processed properly, they have the potential to lead us to repeat patterns of thoughts and behaviors that will influence our future in a positive or negative way.
But there is more to it. You need to practice self-awareness because your emotional stability is at the mercy of your ancestors, Matta William said. Your ancestors’ emotional dynamics and the maladaptive or positive behaviors are transmitted from generation to generation, and, today, you are not just the result of your decisions, but also the result of the influence that those previous generations have on you. Your ending was written since your beginning. If you do not want your future to be determined by your ancestors, you need to rewrite your history. Only then can you write the last chapter of your life.
But, along with self-knowledge is vulnerability. You cannot achieve self-knowledge if you do not make yourself vulnerable. Feeling vulnerable refers to a psychological state in which we are aware of an emotional wound that we think we cannot overcome. Vulnerability is that step you take of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.
While Adam and Eve hid their shame behind fig leaves, they did not experience healing. The change in the lives of our first parents began when they acknowledged the pain in their histories and made themselves vulnerable, coming out of their hiding to make themselves vulnerable and receive help. How can you achieve this? Be brave and ask for what you need. You have to be willing to expose your feelings. Be transparent with yourself and with those around you. Accept yourself the way you are. Accept the things that make you human. If your problem is preventing you from functioning in your home or ministry, maybe it is time to seek professional help.
How can I practice self-awareness? Keeping an emotional journal. The emotional journal is a therapeutic tool that allows you to talk to yourself and discover those areas that need to be processed in your life. Another thing you can do is sit down with someone you trust and ask him/her to tell you the things he/she thinks you should grow in your life. And you will tell him/her that you will not get upset, but that you will accept everything he/she tells you. People who are next to you know things about you that you do not know about yourself and you need their help to discover them.
Prepare a genogram of your family, this will also help.
Everything mentioned above will help you care for your emotional wounds and thus be able to restore your identity.
Practice the ministry of presence
The best gift you can give to those who suffer and are around you is your presence, said Thich Nhat Hanh. That was the ministry Jesus carried. He was with those who suffered, with the sinners, the miserable, those who are mourning. His presence was more effective than any miracle He could have done. Jesus’ presence brought security, hope, and refuge.
When you allow those who suffer to experience your presence, you are telling them these three things:
I listen to you actively
Listening is an art that is developed. There are people who pay for psychological therapy seeking to be listened by someone. When you practice the ministry of presence and listen to the suffering person, you are setting aside a space in your time, mind and physical space to say to that person “I am present before your pain”.
But many times, this is a difficult task because we are so absorbed in our pain and the demands of our ministry that we think we do not have time for anything else, and we simply drift with the currents of discouragement and exhaustion. This way we lose sight of our identity. And as a result, the people who are by our side looking for a helping hand, suffer in silence, because they do not want to seem intrusive and invade our private space.
When we actively listen, we withdraw and get away from what is important to us, so that others receive the gift of our presence. We create the space for others to be themselves and come to us on their own terms.
James Hillman, director of studies at the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich, wrote this about counseling:
For the other person to open up and speak, the counselor needs to reach that person. I must withdraw to make room for the other. . .
This withdrawal, rather than going to meet the other, is an intense act of self-knowledge. The space that I offer the person who is hurting with my presence allows him/her to grow.
Do you think these techniques are easily applicable? Do you think that they are challenging for you? Do you feel that your ministry could be carried out regardless of your broken identity if you follow these recommendations? Please, share your opinion in the comments section of this post, this way we can enrich our experience together. God bless you.
If you need professional help you can call us or write to us:
Phone number: 407 618 0222