Many sincere followers of Christ, followers who are really passionate for God, join a church, participate weekly in a small group, serve with their gifts, and who are considered “mature,” remain stuck at a level of spiritual immaturity—especially when faced with interpersonal conflicts and crises. The Emotionally Healthy Spirituality video study and companion study guide by Peter and Geri Scazzero offer a strategy for discipleship that address this void. Peter and Geri help us to understand the need to be emotionally healthy as well as spiritually healthy. We cannot be mature in one area without also being mature in the other. We pray that you will be transformed this week by watching this free first session 1 of this powerful Bible Study! ~ Fred Bittner, FaithGateway Bible Studies
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Emotional health and spiritual maturity cannot be separated. It is impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.
When we ignore the emotional component of our lives, we move through the motions of Christian disciplines, activities, and behaviors, but deeply rooted behavioral patterns from our pasts continue to hinder us from an authentic life of maturity in Christ.
We often neglect to reflect on what is going on inside us and around us (emotional health) and are too busy to slow down to be with God (contemplative spirituality). As a result, we run the high risk of remaining stuck as spiritual infants, failing to develop into spiritually/emotionally mature adults in Christ.
Watch the Video: Session 1 of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality:
Following are the top ten symptoms of emotionally unhealthy spirituality. Which of these symptoms are most relevant to your life?
- Using God to run from God (Example: My prayers are usually about God doing my will, not me surrendering to His.)
- Ignoring the emotions of anger, sadness, and fear (Example: I am rarely honest with myself and/or others about the feelings, hurts, and pains beneath the surface of my life.)
- Dying to the wrong things (Example: I tend to deny healthy, God-given desires and pleasures of life such as friendships, joy, music, beauty, laughter, and nature. At the same time, I find it difficult to die to my self-protectiveness, defensiveness, lack of vulnerability, and judgmentalism.)
- Denying the past’s impact on the present (Example: I rarely consider how my family of origin and significant people/events from my past have shaped my present.)
- Dividing life into “secular” and “sacred” compartments (Example: I easily compartmentalize God to “Christian activities” while usually forgetting about Him when I am working, shopping, studying, or recreating.)
- Doing for God instead of being with God (Example: I tend to evaluate my spirituality based on how much I am doing for God.)
- Spiritualizing away conflict (Example: I usually miss out on true peace by smoothing over disagreements, burying tensions, and avoiding conflict, rather than disrupting false peace as Jesus did.)
- Covering over brokenness, weakness, and failure (Example: I have a hard time speaking freely about my weaknesses, failures, and mistakes.)
- Living without limits (Example: Those close to me would say that I often “try to do it all” or “bite off more than I can chew.”)
- Judging the spiritual journeys of others (Example: I often find myself occupied and bothered by the faults of those around me.)
Saul, king of Israel, was instructed by God to fight and completely destroy the Amalekites. He succumbed, however, to the wishes of his fighting men and did only part of God’s will due to a lack of self-awareness (emotional health) and attentiveness toward God (contemplation). Read 1 Samuel 15:7-24.
1. 1 Samuel 15:11 describes God’s and Samuel’s responses to Saul’s actions. What about their responses impacts you? How does this differ from Saul’s response in 1 Samuel 15:12-13?
2. What might have been going on beneath the surface of Saul’s life (iceberg) that he was unaware of?
3. Reread 1 Samuel 15:22-23. Describe in your own words how Samuel explains Saul’s disobedience.
4. What are some examples of how we go through the motions of making “burnt offerings” and “sacrifices” rather than obeying the word of the Lord?
5. Note the seriousness of 1 Samuel 15:23a. What positive step(s) could Saul have taken to become aware of his own iceberg and hear God in his situation? What might be one positive step for you?
In what ways can you relate, or not relate, to Saul?
Not only was Saul unaware of what was going on inside of him (emotional health), he also did not cultivate a contemplative life with God (as David did). His “doing” for God did not flow from his “being” with God .
In the same way, our “doing” for Jesus must flow from our “being” with Him. Far too often, we live vicariously off other people’s spirituality and relate to God while busily “on the run.”
6 . What challenges keep you from slowing down your life to be with God?
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What is your answer to the last study question, What challenges keep you from slowing down your life to be with God?