Pastors working with people attached to BEEPS can find the complexity of the issues overwhelming. And many are not trained to recognize some of the problems that chew up people and time. The following 5 Helpful Hints could very well save your health, your sanity and/or your ministry!
1. Know your limits. There are some things you are good at and some things that you don’t do a very good job with at all. You will tend to keep people safe around you when you function within your limits.
Think about it like this: If you are trying to remodel your house, you may be a good carpenter and a good plumber but if you try to think that because you can do carpentry and plumbing that it qualifies you as a licensed electrician you are likely to burn your house down and get some bad shocks when you turn the water on!
Never, ever be afraid to refer to excellent resources in your area. There is not enough time in the day to meet every need and every problem for every person who walks in your office.
Know the community resources in your area. You want to know:
Where are the resources for battered women
Where are AA meetings
Where are Thriving meetings
Where are addiction counselors
Where are Christian counselors, or Christian addiction counselors
What kind of referral to rehab programs is in your area
2. Take all reports of abusive behavior seriously, especially when children are involved. The laws vary from state to state about what reporting requirements are for abuse. In general, they tend to be that if you know that a child has been abused and they are under 18 or if a child or an elderly person is being abused or is in imminent danger of being abused, you need to report. Check out your local laws. Everyone should know that.
You have a responsibility as protectors to protect the most weak and most vulnerable who are being exploited by predators. Your first duty is to the weak and those who are unable to protect themselves. Never hesitate to report if you need to.
When involved with pastors who have congregants who have been physically abused by their spouses, the general suggestion is to refer them to domestic violence programs in their area. They can more easily deal with a self-justifying abuser or a self-justifying narcissist than a pastor can.
Lack of submission is never an excuse for abuse. That is not biblical.
3. The nature of addiction and the nature of BEEPS. People can have all different levels of involvement with BEEPS from just experimenting with them to developing a relationship with them, to having a full blown harmful dependence on BEEPS.
Most pastors are not qualified to make that distinction. That is why addiction counselors can be very important in this whole process of assessing how serious the involvement with the BEEPS is.
If you are looking at an addiction, you should know that addiction is the primary problem, there are a whole herd of other messy secondary problems like how they are relating to the person the BEEPS relates to, children, the spouse, work, rent, physical problems, mortgage problems…there is a whole host of things.
If somebody has a full blown addiction, no lasting care for underlying and secondary issues can begin until the person is sober.
Don’t get roped in by a clever person with an attachment to BEEPS who keeps you chasing your tail around the issue of addiction. Who says, “well I wouldn’t drink so much if my wife did this better, or if my boss wasn’t this way, or if the children minded me better, or whatever. That’s the kind of common denial and smokescreen that goes with BEEPS.
4. Be aware of your own co-dependent tendencies. Everyone has them. Co-dependent tendencies are sometimes subtly manipulating other people to do the right thing, or what you think is the right thing. Some do it because they really care and don’t want anyone hurt. Others do it because they are fed up and want people to do what they tell them to do.
The safest way to deal with your own tendencies is to have at least one or two other people on staff with whom you bounce things off of regularly. That keeps you safe and your counseling safe and it helps you get the support you need when you are working with complicated problems.
5. Know that BEEPS are messy. If you think about someone with an attachment to BEEPS and you get that queasy feeling in your stomach or the knot in your stomach…that is because you have discovered that BEEPS make a mess and they don’t counsel particularly easily. They don’t always resolve very easily.
The best thing that you can do is be very patient
Utilize all the resources that are in your community
Things get worse before they get better.
The person with attachments to BEEPS is highly avoidant, highly ticked off that this issue has come to light and that it has been talked about outside the camp. You are going to need other resources in your community involved.
Action Step for this week:
Assess your strengths and weaknesses in dealing with people who are attached to BEEPS
Make your list of community resources
We hope by breaking it down in bite sized pieces you can begin to bring your load down below the overwhelmed mark and begin creating a Transformation Zone in your church and home. If you have questions, feel free to drop them in the comment box!
Blessings, Carol Brown, B.A., M.A.C.I. and Chris Coursey http://www.thrivetoday.org/pastorsweekly.html