Late one evening, while Pastor Peter Scazzero was reading in the bedroom, his wife Geri entered the room and told him calmly, “You know what, I’d have been much happier single than married to you. I love you, but I simply can’t continue living life this way anymore …. I have waited and waited ….. I’ve tried talking to you, yet you never listened. I can’t change you. That’s your decision but I’m getting on with my life.” In a firm tone, Geri added, “Oh, by the way, about the church you pastor? I’ve decided to leave. Your leadership isn’t worth following.”
The above conversation did take place in reality. Peter is the founding pastor of a multicultural mega church in New York City, yet his experience is an uncanny portrayal of many Christian families. The falsehood of living a double life (a godly front revered by many on the outside but a mess on the inside) prompted Peter to face his problems squarely. After much soul-searching, he came to realise that the crux of the problem lies not in the lack of emphasis on bible study, nor the lack of fellowship, nor the lack of trust in the Holy Spirit and the power of prayer, nor an insufficient focus on the importance of worship, nor the apathy towards community work, nor the neglect of the reality of spiritual warfare, nor the overlooking of God’s sanctifying grace.
After many years of reflection and learning, Peter and Geri are now spearheading the Emotionally Healthy Discipleship Ministry. In his book “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality”, Peter pointed out that the Lord made mankind in His image (Genesis 1:27), having physical, spiritual, emotional, intelligent and social dimensions. He observed that in an average church setting, the dimension of emotions tends to be ignored, resulting in many believers living a double life. Those believers may well excel in their workplace and complete their given tasks to a high standard, or they are willing to consecrate their lives to the Lord and serve fervently. Yet when they encounter interpersonal conflicts, they often become timid and weak, or furious and hostile, neither having the ability to handle the dispute in a mature manner, nor the power to alleviate the frustration, negativity and anger within.
Are you emotionally healthy? In the path of your personal and spiritual growth, has the dimension of “emotions” been ignored? How has this influenced or helped you? Let’s continue exploring this topic in my next letter.