10 September 2007

Earlier today Colin Saxton, the superintendent of Northwest Yearly Meeting of Friends (NWYM), sent a valuable article out to the pastors in NWYM written by Amy Frykholm entitled Addictive Behavior: Pastors and Pornography. (Christian Century | www.christiancentury.org/article.lasso?id=3629). Amy Frykholm is the daughter of GFU department of religious studies professor Tom Johnson, and also the author of a fascinating book I read this past year entitled Rapture Culture: Left Behind In Evangelical Culture (2004 | Oxford University Press).

But back to the "why" behind Colin sending this article out to NWYM pastors. This is the kind of "shepherding" I need from our superintendent. I know Colin has many other elements to his job description -- but watching out for us, encouraging us, equipping us, exhorting us, watching our backs, and investing into our success as co-shepherds with you -- I am thankful for the seriousness with which he embrace this part of his calling among us.

Frykholm is right in saying that if it's not pornography, then it is some other area of brokenness we're each wrestling with. For me it's food. And Celebrate Recovery (www.celebraterecovery.com) is helping me come to terms with some of the core issues involved there. The three key issues Frykholm cites for "allowing" or "opening the door" to addictive behavior and cycles are certainly ones that most people (pastors or otherwise) can connect with. Here are the three issues Frykholm cites, along with some thoughts of my own about them ...


Let's get involved with other pastors and lay people -- folks inside and outside the church in, let's not be afraid to develop
intimate, honest friendships with people inside and outside our flocks. And if we're married, let's rediscover the spark of intimate friendship we once knew during our "newlywed" years.

But let's not take the low road of depending on our spouses, on our children, on our friends, or on our vocation, for that which we must learn to depend on God for. Our deepest needs of intimacy are not sexual, or even verbal ... they are spiritual. And so going to God first as the antidote for loneliness is where we must begin.


Let's get the root of the resentments we carry, the bitterness we've allowed to take root in our hearts and minds, and the sinful side of our egos that feeds both sides of the pride (arrogance and jealousy).

If we need to see a counselor, then let's push pride aside and go see a counselor. If we need to go on a retreat taking only our Bible and a journal, asking God to reveal these deeper, darker causes of our anger, and then deliver us from them through confession and inner healing. And if we're pastors, then let's not be afraid to ask our elders for time off to do this important work.


The medicine for the sickness of working too much, too hard, and too long (something many of us have been guilty of), isn't being succumbing to a desire to be lazy (buying into the lie that we deserve it for how sacrificial we've been in how we live our lives -- piety? It can be so annoying!), but it's waking up to the reality that activity and movement are sacramental as much as they are recreational.

I am only now waking up to this reality. So don't take me at my word on this as a person who is seasoned in this sober-road-to-anti-boredom -- because I've only set my food upon this path recently. But the results have been meaningful,
deep, true and real.

It's my day off ... so I had time to write. But now I'm going to go out and walk my dog and then mow the lawn ... real "spiritual activities"! And if you've been stunned by mass Christian culture's willingness to embrace the Left Behind series as good theology, good storytelling, or both, then you might want to check out Amy Frykholm's book I referenced earlier. You can read more about it at ...