Fixers—What Was God Thinking?

What in the world was God thinking when He designed fixers? They can be hurtful to the “fixee” as well as themselves!

Thinking

Fixers are usually people who are highly sensitive—they are empathetic and can feel when something is wrong. Because they are also creative and compassionate, they can often accurately assess what the problem is and how to remedy it. They want to do what they can to make things better. They want to help. That’s a good thing, right? Yes and no. Sometimes it backfires and people see the “fixer” as a busy body; they feel controlled and manipulated—not good.

It is a good thing to be compassionate, empathetic and it’s good to make things better. Yes, BUT, undisciplined compassion with weak boundaries or no limits leads straight to burnout and will probably involve a good amount of time in co-dependency…which is dysfunctional—not good.

What causes High Sensitivity?

The reason people are highly sensitive has to do with how their central nervous system is wired. Highly sensitive people take in more sensory data than most. That is why they are often slow to figure out Nerveswhat they think or feel about something—they have lots more data to sort through before coming to a conclusion. It really does take longer when you have more factors, more variables. Emotional data is also sensed and felt by highly sensitive people as if it were their own. They need more alone time–down time to recharge energies than most people. So they may be viewed as “different.”

It is good to sense what the problem is for purposes of intercessory prayer. Sometimes God needs to prepare the soil of the soul or spirit and that is why He wants us to intercede. However, if we rush to fix the fix that God fixed to fix a man, then God will have to fix another fix to fix him! Thank you, John Sandford, for that bit of wisdom!

All problems are not bad. Not all pain is to be removed. Pain can serve a good purpose; that’s called redemptive pain. Pain is a blessing when it drives you to God. But when you are alone in it, it’s more painful. Here is where the burden bearer can sit with them in their pain, fill up with it and be a comfort them…but then go to the cross and off load immediately! Pain is a blessing when you develop strength of character while resisting it—by not becoming negative, not doubting God, not complaining but using the thrust of the enemy like a pole vaulter uses his pole to propel himself higher and further than he could jump by himself.

God allows highly sensitive people to feel people’s pain, but the response He wants from us is not to rush in and fix the problem in our own strength. That is an emotional, immature response and it results in doing the work of the spirit with the strength of the soul—and the soul is not built for it. Soul strength is exhaustible; but the strength of God is inexhaustible. He wants us to turn to Him, ask Him what He wants to do in the situation. Then, invite Him to do what is on His heart to do in the first place.

hikerGal. 6:2 tells us to bear one another’s burdens. The word for burden here means the overwhelming, crushing load! That is what you and I are to come alongside and help carry. Some problems are Gal. 6:4, your own load that you are meant to carry. The word that is translated “burden” or “load” in 6:4 means an individual’s pack, much like a soldier’s knapsack. It contains everything the soldier will need on his mission. If you take another’s knapsack you rob them of the enterprise of their own learning. Every teacher knows that you learn it when you earn it. Some problems contain the parameters within which you learn and develop godly character. As pastors and leaders we must not rush to rescue.

I am sure Chris would not want to repeat his near burnout experience, but I am also sure that he is grateful for the things he learned about himself and his Lord that he could learn no other way. He learned invaluable things about his maturity, boundaries, limitations and God’s grace. We do not want to take away another person’s opportunity to mature.

TeachingGod is the consummate teacher. He allows us to participate in what He is doing—growing up sons and daughters. When our daughters were little they wanted to “help” me in meal preparations. I would lift them up on the counter and tell them they could help by watching. That worked for a while, and then they wanted to participate. They would pour premeasured ingredients into the bowl and then stir. They were included and proud of their “contribution.” And I bragged about how helpful they were to their father, whose face lighted up with delight. God does this with us. Jesus lifts us to heavenly places and gives revelation so that we can ask Him to do what He has in mind—His premeasured ingredients! He includes us and it strengthens our faith and works into us the character and nature of God. He brags to His Father about us and Father God beams with delight over what we do right!

One of the unpleasant things about being sensitive is that we are so sensitive! Every sense seems to be exaggerated…someone, please…turn down the volume! (the heat, the lights, cut the tags off my shirts!) So when we encounter someone in pain, we feel it. It hurts and we want it to stop. We can go into spasms trying to make it stop.

Highly sensitive people can actually draw down the pain level of a person who is in overwhelm—sort of siphon it off into themselves. They can swoop into a painful situation and scoop up the excess just to lower the amount of pain they feel—if you don’t hurt then I won’t have to feel it. This is unredeemed burden bearing. Unchecked, it can get you into all sorts of dysfunctions; it can lead to physical and emotional illness, depression and drive people around you nuts! It is only a temporary fix, but when God fixes a situation, it is done. We need His strategy and power.

God made no mistake when He designed highly sensitive people creative and compassionate. They are able to sync with the heart of God and bring back a bit of heaven with them. They can sit with Him and be devastated by what devastates Him and be delighted in what delights Him. They are the poets and authors, prophets and seers who hear His stories and songs and write them down. They dance to His tunes and pray the prayers the hurting cannot say. They comfort the wounded, bind up the broken and release the captives. They are the watchers on the walls, the menders of the breach and cleaners of the temple—God’s “Special Forces” who help to bring His kingdom to earth as it is in heaven—that’s what God was thinking!

Here are two sources where you can find more on this subject—my website, www.fromgodsheart.com and Dr. Elaine Aron, a secular psychologist http://www.hsperson.com/. She has a self-test for anyone wondering whether or not they are highly sensitive. Good stuff, very helpful.

Action Steps

Next time Footprintsyou are tempted “to make the hurt go away”; before you quickly fix someone who is over-whelmed so that you don’t become overwhelmed yourself…please stop. Quiet–(ask God to turn down the volume if the pain is so loud you can’t hear) and ask God what He wants to do in this situation. He has taken on Himself responsibility for all outcomes. What does He want to do? And then pray that prayer.

And then share with us here how it went!

Blessings, Carol Brown, B.A., MACI                                          Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive                                                     www.fromgodsheart.com                                                                          http://connectwithcarolbrown.blogspot.com

Joy Starts Here has arrived! BETA version is available for churches and groups to become the epicenter of joy! Click here for your copy.

How’s Your Soul, Mate?

 

While you are taking care of everybody else virtually 24/7 and working on feeding your congregation, who is taking care of the pastor? How do you take care of the pastor’s soul?

When your soul is not being cared for…

CareofPastor1             One of the obvious characteristics is a heavy weariness. Your body feels tired; your soul feels tired. You experience a lowered capacity; you’re easily overwhelmed by daily issues. You might begin to feel more distant from God and less like praying. It feels like God is nowhere to be found; you’re on your own—your soul begins to languish. Like the Psalmist said, “I am in this dry and weary land where there is no water.” You feel parched. You are easily triggered, reacting to people instead of taking the time to respond gracefully and to think through how to stay relational.

When your soul is being cared for…

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You are more joyful. Life seems good; you have a sense of well being—you are okay. You know who you are and are more aware of God’s presence. He feels close and relationally available, connected. There is a sense of satisfaction and goodness. Your responses are much more graceful and thoughtful.

How Do You Get There From Here?

clip_image006Do you have a strategy for taking care of your own soul? Many pastors assume that everyone else’s needs come first and they come last on the list. Consider that you own soul needs really do matter.

The truth is that unless you are intentional and deliberate, your soul will begin to look like that beat up boat in the first picture. When you are all worn out you act more like a program director instead of a pastor.

A Two-Pronged Strategy…

1. Pragmatic or Structural Resources…

Rest and Quiet

clip_image008The Life Model talks about the pragmatic all the time. Learn how to quiet and rest often. Take breaks. Take a few deep breaths; get out and look at the sunshine. Remember who you are and whose you are. Push the demands out of your mind and soak in the goodness of God. Dr. Wilder talks about the need to oscillate between intensity and rest. This builds strength and is good for your mental health. Take this seriously. Set a “break timer” if you need to.

Set Boundaries

clip_image010Often people expect pastors not to set boundaries. They want you to be available all the time and answer your cell phone when they call. Pastors, think about how to use your phones. See who is calling and let the phone message take care of some of this stuff.

Set up a “Sabbath rest” day. When you have that day, have an agreement with your spouse or family not to talk about church business. This is your day to receive; your day to be refreshed and pay attention to what is good for you.

Have a gate keeper—someone who screen calls and protects you from the constant barrage that would sap your strength. It really is okay for pastors to set boundaries.

Develop A Pastoral Care Team

clip_image012Develop a pastoral care team to take care of the congregation’s long term soul care and counseling. Part of your job is to train your people to minister to one another. It is good for them to learn how to give life and take part in the ministry. If you have heard of Steven’s Ministry, it is very worthwhile to look into. Train some of your lay people to come alongside some of those who need help. This is a way for you to delegate and off load some of the demands on your time.

Have a Hobby

clip_image014You need an avocation, something that has nothing to do with your ministry that you can do on your Sabbath day just for refreshing, for creativity.

Care For Your Own Family

clip_image016Above all, take good care of your marriage and family. This is a way of taking care of your own soul. Make sure your spouse has someone he/she can talk to other than yourself to vent and talk in a safe and confidential place.

2. Personal/Spiritual Resources…

Daily Conversational Prayer

clip_image018You need daily, conversational prayer with God. As a pastor you have a God-sized job. You can’t do it unless He is pouring into your life! The bible study to prepare for the next sermon does not count. You need to spend time with God with absolutely no agenda other than your own spiritual health, to feast at God’s table—let Him pour into you and into your soul.

This needs to be in your job description. Part of what you are being paid for is to spend time with God and have Him pour into you so that you can pour into others with the overflow. Talk to your elders or whoever is in charge of your employment and put this in your job description that you spend time with God every day.

Relentlessly Pursue Healing and Restoration

clip_image020Relentlessly pursue your own healing and restoration. It is often tempting to think that the greatest problems that you deal with as pastors are church related: financial problems, procedural problems, relational and communal problems, but in terms of your own ministry, the greatest problems you face can come from your own unhealed places. If these are not taken care of, they will wear you down. Being a minister does not mean that you have arrived someplace. There is not a period of training and now you have the skills you need and now it is your turn to do all the giving. You need to relentlessly pursue your healing—this is a lifelong process.

A resource I highly recommend is Carl Lehman’s, Outsmarting Yourself. Digest what it has to say because you need to be able to identify the things that trigger you and take them to God and get those cleaned out. This is huge. Beyond that, healing changes you in ways you can’t even begin to anticipate. You learn things about the goodness of God and how God works in you for your own good. Healing will actually change the way you minister to others, the way you preach and the vocabulary you use.

Transparency Before God

clip_image022Practice transparency before God. This is very important because most pastors, unless you are in some kind of very unusual group, most pastors find that full transparency probably is not possible. Even though you can model some level of transparency and show people how to walk through hard times, there is some discretion and some discernment needed in how you do that publically. A lot of people in your congregations need to see you as being up-stream from them and too much transparency can destroy their trust in you.

The problem is that whenever you try to practice some kind of limited or guarded transparency with people, it is easy to carry that over as your modus oprendi when talking to God. Throw out those boundaries in your relationship with God. And allow Him probe deep in your heart and life so you can get the healing you need. In Psalm 139 the psalmist says, “Search me oh, God and know my heart.”

You also need to find another person other than your spouse with whom transparency is possible—someone safe and encouraging, who will check in on you and challenge you. Keeping everything to yourself has a way of wearing down your soul.

Develop A Trusted Intercessory Team

clip_image024Develop a trusted intercessory team with whom you can share sensitive information and keep them up to date on what to pray for. Take this very seriously because you are in a spiritual war and you need to be covered in prayer. This is important for the protection of your soul.

Leave The Outcome With God

clip_image026As much as possible and prudent, focus on the process; leave the outcomes to God. Paul planted, Apollos watered but God gave the increase. This does not mean that you are passive in any way. It just means you need to know what your part is and what God’s part is. You need to stop when you have done your part; don’t try to control the outcome.

Caring for your own soul is not a selfish act.

clip_image028In fact, if you want to minister well, it’s not even optional. We hope that someone has been encouraged to be more deliberate about taking care of your own soul needs. When you are in the eye of the storm of your work, busyness and overwhelm, it can be hard to remember to care for yourself. These steps will help you get started.

Action Step:

  • Inventory your soul needs
  • Implement what you can of these steps
  • Determine to work toward the others

Blessings,

Carol A. Brown B.A., M.A.C.I.                                                      Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive                                                                                       www.fromgodsheart.com http://connectwithcarolbrown.blogspot.com, and                        Chris Coursey, B.A., M.A. Theology

This blog post is from a talk given for Pastor’s Weekly by David Tackle, a pastoral counselor, teacher and author. You can find him at www.Kingdom Formation.org.

Anybody see Joy? Which way did she go?

In a healthy brain, you should be able to return to joy from fear, anger, sadness, disgust, shame and hopeless despair within 90 seconds. “What?! You must be kidding! That sounds impossible!” It may sound impossible, but it’s true.

Science doesn’t tell us yet, at least as far as I’m aware, why fear, anger, sadness, disgust, shame and hopeless despair knock joy out—they just do. These six big, bad negative emotions are very difficult for most people, but everyone needs to learn how to come back to joy from them if they want healthy, joy filled relationships. When you think of being in fear, anger, sadness, disgust, shame or hopeless despair, you would think that when you are back to joy you would feel, “Woo hoo, yippiee, skippy, life is wonderful!” But that is not what is happening in your brain.

Being able to return to joy means that you are still in the middle of the emotion but you are glad to be with somebody in the midst of the big bad negative emotion.

Take fear for example. You are in the middle of a tornado…many of you are huddled together in the basement…you have your family members together. You are still frightened with the tornado going on around you, but you are glad to be together. You are glad that your family is there, and even though you are still in fear, you are building joy because you are glad to be together. Joy is the crucial element there.

You want to build a pathway back to joy from each one of those negative emotions; otherwise you get stuck and don’t know your way back.

The problem is that most of us are missing a skill or skills along the way. When you can’t find joy when in the midst of those big negative emotions, you become lost in them.

In the examples of Jesus being able to go through what He went through… Often times when you think of Jesus being angry you go back to when He overturned the tables in the temple as the illustration of Jesus being angry. He may have been, but Scripture doesn’t use the words “Jesus was angry.” The place that does talk about Jesus being angry is in the story when He healed the man with the withered hand. Jesus was angry, Scripture says so, but He was still who He was—He was a healer and He healed the man with the withered hand even though He was angry.

He was angry with the Pharisees who were upset about Him healing on the Sabbath. He was rock solid in who He was. The strong emotion of anger did not cause him to act differently than always did. If He had been full of sadness or disgust or shame or any of those emotions, it was still like Him, as a healer, to heal. He did what it was like Him to do regardless of what emotion He had. So he healed the man.

Jesus remembered who He was in the midst of anger and you and I likewise need to remember who we are in the midst of strong emotion. Remember who God created you to be so that you are able to relationally interact with other people during your upset or theirs. That is a crucial skill that you need to be able to learn to use in your everyday lives.

For pastors in particular, being able to know how to relate to your staff, your family, your congregants, the ones in your church, and continue to be relational with them during their upsets is critical to the overall health of each group.

People tend to view authority figures, especially pastors, as representatives of who God is. Leaders often bear the brunt for wounds people have toward authority figures. If you run into a pastor, or people in authority over you, who don’t have these skills you feel dismissed as if they are not paying attention. You feel diminished. If you, as pastor, are not able to stay engaged with upset people and stay relational with them, you are not able to teach them the skill of returning to joy because these skills are all passed on relationally.

How can you learn this skill?

Come to the Thrive Training. When you come, you will work at being able to pay attention to who God created you to be—what kind of a heart did God give you? You want to know how to repair ruptured relationships; how to return to relationship with people when you are feeling upset, overwhelmed, misunderstood and accused—which is frequent in relationships in church. People can be upset about how the music or child care is run, or when someone spills on the new carpet. You want to be able to return to joy when interacting with upset people who are stuck.

Thrive Training is like teaching you how to ride a bicycle. You can read the manual on how to ride a bicycle and imagine it and watch somebody riding a bicycle, but you have to get up on that bike and practice to actually learn balance. You have to take off those training wheels, and learn how to be able to navigate. That’s what we do at Thrive Training and when we work on returning to joy we practice the skill; we have to do it over and over again. It’s not something you can learn right away; you have to practice it.

I puzzled for some time why these relational skills were not just written up in a book so I could learn them. Why did I have to come to the Thrive Training? It finally dawned on me…reading and all that encoding and decoding happens in the left brain. Relational skills happen in the right brain. The right brain doesn’t learn well from books. It’s into show and tell. It runs more like monkey see, monkey do. If you learn it from a book, only 1/2 the brain is involved! You learn from a brain that already knows how it is done. Ah, ha! I finally get it!

Action step:

  1. With your bonded partner, check your calendar and sign up for the very next Thrive Training
  2. If you do not have a bonded partner or cannot take 5 full days to train your brain, find a Thriving Recover Your Life program and commit to one night a week. You will love the result!

Blessings, Chris and Carol 

Carol A. Brown, B.A., M.A.C.I.                                                         Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive www.fromgodsheart.com                          http://connectwithcarolbrown.blogspot.com                             Chris Coursey, B.A., M.A. Theology, author, international speaker and trainer

This post is from a talk given by Kitty Wilder for Pastors Weekly May 9, 2013.

Church Essentials for Creating a Transformation Zone

What factors does a pastor and his leaders have to consider in making church a safe place for people attached to BEEPS? If you are wanting to move your church in a transformational direction, you need to read this blog!

Family Dynamics—What you need to know:

It is usually a co-dependent family member who shows up in your office first. The primary reason is that they are the one in the most pain.

The person with a strong attachment to BEEPS is in a tremendous amount of pain but,

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  • The BEEPS medicate and numb their pain so they are not entirely aware of it.
  • The addict is sometimes so medicated they don’t even know they are affecting other people.
  • They don’t know they are hurting other people and even if they do they minimize it.

HelpfulHintsBeeps2The co-dependent and the children in the family are watching this. They are victimized by the anger and are in a huge amount of pain.  So the first person to show up in your office will probably be a family member—a parent or a spouse or a child.

The family member that shows up in your office is breaking the rules of an addictive system which says, “Don’t tell anyone else we have a problem here.”

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  • They feel a tremendous amount of shame.
  • They feel a lot of fear about what is going to happen;
  • They are likely to be embarrassed. They feel great emotional and relational stress, so it is hugely important to support their request for help.

You don’t have to fix them, but supporting them and encouraging them for coming forward to talk to you about it is huge.

You don’t have to buy everything they say. Sometimes they are in so much pain they exaggerate. That is part of what makes addiction so messy. Showing up in your office is not normal. Normally that kind of stuff stays hidden so it is a huge step for someone if they come to you and say, “This is going on in my house and I don’t know what to do.”

The best thing that you can do is to start connecting them immediately to people, resources, and groups in your church and in your community that can help them.

They are going to need a huge amount of support and encouragement to follow through on getting help for themselves. They always come to try to get help for the person who has the attachment to BEEPS.

Typical Conversation: The spouse or parent shows up with the person attached to BEEPS and says, “Well here he is, fix him.” or “Here she is fix her.”

We always say, “Well what is your problem?”

They say, “Well, this person. If they would stop drinking or drugging…snuffing stuff up their nose or shooting it up their arm, smoking….”

“No, no, no, what is your problem?”

Rattlesnak-BEEPS

Eventually, they come to realize that living with an addict is not unlike living in a house with a rattlesnake. You always want to know where the snake is, what’s the snake going to do, and is the snake hungry and irritated enough to bite you today? So they need a lot of help in working with their own fear, with their own shame and knowing what to do.

 alcoholThe only difference in dynamic in the home between someone married to an alcoholic and a perfectionist is that the alcoholic’s breath smells like alcohol.

The dynamics in the BEEPS family tend to be very similar whether somebody is a dyed in the wool perfectionist, workaholic or approval seeker as they are in the home of an alcoholic.  This is something that effects everyone.

How can your church become a place of healing, hope and transformation for people with attachments to BEEPS?

Three conditions must be present for there to be a culture of transformation.

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1. You need a MULTIGENERATIONAL community.

You need three generations interacting together. Sometimes you have three generations, but the older people go to the older people’s class and the younger ones go to theirs and the teens go to theirs and everybody else goes to theirs. Everyone is in the same building, but are not interacting.

2. You need the Immanuel Lifestyle. The Immanuel Lifestyle is a term that means that you go through your day and your life interacting with Jesus and His Shalom is ruling in your heart. You must have God’s Shalom in your church and an Immanuel lifestyle that people are learning to live.

3. You need relational brain skills. You need to grow the skills to initiate bonds, to grow strong bonds and especially to repair strong bonds. You need these three as primary focuses of what you do in church in addition to everything else mentioned about dealing with people with BEEPS.

Those three things are the culture you need. But to enter the transformation zone and to stay there, three things need to happen–and this is a big part of what is talked about in the Joy Starts Here book. Those are the conditions, now here are the actions:

1. You need the strong and the weak of your congregation interacting together. That means people who don’t have BEEPS, and people who have recovered from BEEPS and people who are still struggling with BEEPS. You need all of them interacting together around issues of life, including BEEPS.

2. You need tender responses to weakness. If you do CB101945not respond tenderly to weakness, you will create a culture of performance and legalism that will kill transformation. So, we all must get over pretending that bad things are not happening, pretending BEEPS are not there, and get over responses that say, “There better not be BEEPS here or we will take care of them!” You need to respond tenderly to weakness.

3. And lastly, you need the interactive presence of Jesus to maintain peace in your commands of gracecongregations. All three of these things must be present for transformation to occur.

This is why we wrote the Joy Starts Here book. All this is laid out in great detail in the book and it explains how to grow this kind of culture in your church. The Thriving Program has been designed as a discipleship program that includes specific training for people with BEEPS.

BeepsMaterial

(Click diagram to enlarge) You notice that the diagram starts with the Joy Starts Here book. If you use Joy Starts Here in your churches, it is designed for weak and strong to interact together in joy in multigenerational community and Immanuel shalom.

Beeps RecoveryAfter you complete the 9 weeks of going through the book, people in your group can go to one of two places. They can either go to Restarting or they can go to Forming. Restarting is a recovery entrance into the Thriving program and focuses specifically on BEEPS and trauma and how you learn to recover, how you learn to grow joy, how you grow relationships, how you grow relational skills, how you learn to connect with Immanuel to grow Shalom.

It is rooted in a culture of transformation.

Beeps FormingThose people who do not see themselves as having issues related to BEEPS and trauma or relationships, go into FORMING which is a spiritual formation program. Forming is designed for people to grow a deeper, more interactive relationship with Jesus and it is 12 weeks of learning how to grow their skills and give some practice to grow their skills.

Beeps HealingFrom there both groups go into BELONGING. Which is about how you learn to create a joyful place for others. How the weak and strong mix together. How multigenerational community mixes together. How you respond tenderly and how Shalom rules.

BeepsHealingFrom there everyone moves into HEALING which is intensive practice in connecting with Immanuel and talking to Him about people and places in life. From there you go to LOVING which is about BeepsLovinghow you apply everything you’ve learned in Joy Starts Here and the rest of Thriving and how to apply that to your relationships.

A special crisis unit will be developed. This curriculum is designed so that you and the people you love can go back through the program together.

Action Step:

  • What fears and concerns come to mind when you think of creating a t-Zone for your church?
  • What did you learn about weakness growing up at home? What about in grade and high school?
  • Tell three people with less maturity than yourself what you appreciate about them. Notice what happens.

We look forward to your feedback!

Blessings, Carol Brown, B.A. M.A.C.I.                         Amazon Best Selling author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive 

Chris Coursey. B.A. M.A. Theology, Co-author of Joy Starts Here www.thrivetoday.org/contactchris