This coming weekend we begin a new series entitled Thrive, which is a 6-week sermon series focused on how the power of the gospel grows spiritually and emotionally. Our spiritual health and our emotional health are not mutually exclusive, in fact as pastor and author Peter Scazzero points out, “It is impossible to be spiritually mature, while remaining emotionally immature.” The Bible teaches us that even in our messiness, when we have received Jesus Christ we have been given everything we need to live a life of godliness.
“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.”
–2 Peter 1:3-4 (NLT)
Scazzero in his book Emotional Healthy Spirituality (which you can by on Amazon; it will also be available for purchase at the Welcome Center this weekend) suggests that emotional health and spirituality must be integrated. I couldn’t agree more. He asks the question, “How come the two ever got a divorce?” Those who have been Christians for many years and yet remain so emotionally unhealthy continues to sadden me. It harms the name of Jesus, hurts many people, and can even kill churches. Scazzero suggests a type of discipleship that integrates emotional health into the discipleship process. I find the following definition and then description of emotional health to be extremely important for our faith journey and our understanding of discipleship.
Emotional health is what occurs when my feelings are put under the power of the cross so that they are acknowledged as present (as opposed to denying them), listened to for what they communicate about me, expressed adequately and appropriately to others, and acted upon in ways that are appropriate. They exist, but they don’t dominate my behavior. They are recognized and given their rightful place in the course of godly conduct.
Emotional health is concerned with such things as:
- Naming, recognizing, and managing our own feelings
- Identifying with and having active compassion for others
- Initiating and maintaining close and meaningful relationships
- Breaking free from self-destructive patterns
- Being aware of how our past impacts our present
- Developing the capacity to express our thoughts and feelings clearly, both verbally and nonverbally
- Respecting and loving others without having to change them
- Asking for what we need, want, or prefer clearly, directly, and respectfully
- Accurately self-assessing our strengths, limits, and weaknesses and freely sharing them with others
- Learning the capacity to resolve conflict maturely and negotiate solutions that consider the perspectives of others
- Distinguishing and appropriately expressing our sexuality and sensuality
- Grieving well.