Dr Richard Green looks at some of the consequences of negative beliefs and values and how we can avoid disqualifying ourselves from effective ministry.

1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NIV)
“Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

What we believe has an impact on our spiritual, emotional and physical world.

Galatians 1:15-16 (NIV)
“But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother’s womb, and called me through His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me.”

What we believe is formed in us through our beginnings – from the womb - our family of origin and life crises/life shifts positive or negative.

Disqualified from Functioning Effectively

Because we have been created body, soul and spirit negative beliefs can impact us at any level. Some negative beliefs are so destructive that they can lead to severe mental and physical damage. When a negative belief or dysfunctional value is left undealt with the results can be disastrous. An example would be unresolved anger. The emotion is anger but its underlying cause could be any number of dysfunctional beliefs or inner value statements, for example perfectionism, “I must be perfect to be accepted and valued and you must be perfect for me to value you.” When anger is held and becomes bitterness the brain chemistry is affected. Serotonin, which is found in the synapses, or spaces between our brain cells is released into the blood stream and converted into by-products which in turn gets excreted from out body in our urine. Basically we loose serotonin when we are bitter and when serotonin is lost we suffer symptoms of depression, headaches, decreased energy and concentration, insomnia etc. Serotonin gets restored when a bitter person learns to forgive. The body can hang onto serotonin produced naturally from a chemical called tryptophan (found in foods like bananas, fruit and whole grains)1. If the serotonin level drops and stays low for a long period of time it is possible that a person will develop a more severe form of depression. In some cases severe depression leads to the blocking of another brain chemical, dopamine. When dopamine is blocked a person can become psychotic, thinking they are hearing voices, experiencing delusions, suffering severe paranoia and in some people a extended drop in dopamine (six months or more) leads to a permanent state of psychosis (loss of reality).

No matter how gifted or talented a person may be, if unresolved emotional problems flowing from dysfunction beliefs or value statements are left unattended that person will disqualify themselves from functioning effectively.

Stress added to underlying dysfunctional belief creates the context for the development of considerable psychological and physical difficulties.


1Dr Paul Meier. (1993) Don’t let Jerks Get The Best of You – Advice for Dealing With Difficult People. Thomas Nelson

 

This diagram is an adaptation of material by Franklin J.A. (1998) Self-Mastery Training – A complete Home Based Treatment Program for Anxiety, Panic and Agoraphobia, Highland Press. Dr John Franklin (Professor of Behaviour Disorders Clinic – Psychological Department at Macquarie University) has developed a 30 day self help program that has been used and clinically evaluated with 7,000 patients with a success rate of 85 -90%. This program includes audio material, assessment forms and a work book.

Developmental Stages Factors – Physical & Psychological Contributing Factors Physical Symptoms
 Generalised Anxiety Disorder Stress - Physical and/or Psychological Personality / Vulnerability
Dependence
Unassertiveness
 Shakiness, trembling, restlessness
inability to relax, fatigue, exhaustion,
sweating, heart racing, dry mouth,
poor concentration, insomnia,
muscular tension, headaches
Anxiety Low self-confidence
Need to achieve
Over breathing Anxious
Worrier
Over concerned with health
Panic Disorder Hyperventilation
Panic Attacks
Misattribution & conditioning
 Light-headedness, Dizziness,
weakness in legs, palpitations,
tightness in chest, sounds appearing louder,
tingling sensations in hands and face
Simple Situational Phobia Avoidance  Symptoms a of heart attack,
fainting, blurred vision, colour changes
Agoraphobia Generalisation

 

Ministry Contexts

Ministers and pastors of churches are at higher risk than many others because of expectations (external pressures) placed on them. In many cases, expectation heightens the potential for pressure to be applied onto our dysfunctional beliefs. It is the combination of the stress of the context plus our internal beliefs that cause us difficulties.

With the above in mind think about the stress the following causes:

• Church members expect their pastor to juggle on average 16 major tasks.3

• Pastors who work less than 50 hours a week are 35% more likely to lose their job.4

• Nearly 70% of pastors reported that their congregation experienced a conflict during the past two years.5

• 80% of pastors say they have insufficient time with spouse.6

• 56% of pastors’ wives say they have no close friends.7

• 66% of pastors and their families feel pressure to model the ideal family to their congregation and communities.8

• 70% of pastors do not have someone they consider a close friend.9

• 57% of pastors do not have a regularly scheduled and implemented exercise routine.10

• 70% of pastors say they have lower self-esteem now than when they started.11


3 Barna Research Online, September 25, 2001
4 LaRue J C “Pastors at Work: Where the Time Goes” Leadership Journal.net January 3, 2001
5 Pulpit and Pew: Research on Pastoral Leadership www.Presbyweb.com. April 10, 2002
6 Focus on the Family questionnaire, 1997
7 London H.B. (2003), Pastors at Greater Risk. Regal p118
8 The Parsonage, August 10, 2002, www.family.org
9 London H.B. (2003), Pastors at Greater Risk. Regal p264
10 The Parsonage, May 11, 2002, www.family.org
11 London H.B. (2003), Pastors at Greater Risk. Regal p172
12 Cloud H, (1990), When Your World Makes No Sense, Oliver Nelson

The consequences of negative beliefs causes problems creating balance in life. People with dysfunctional beliefs don’t develop healthy boundaries.

Can’t Say Can’t Hear
“NO”  Feels guilty and/or controlled by others  Wants others to take responsibility for him/her
“YES”  Self-absorbed; doesn’t respond to others’ needs  Can’t receive caring from others

 

Negative consequences are not only experienced at the individual level. Because leadership is about influence the dysfunctional beliefs and values of a leader will influence the culture of the organisation they lead. In the case of a church leader systemic problems within a church can often be traced back to the leaders own implicit value and belief system.

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This is part one of the article Disqualifiers In Ministry by Dr Richard Green.
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