Category Archives: Emotional Health

TWO STRATEGIES AGAINST LONELINESS

OVERCOMING MOMENTS OF LONELINESS

Reflect on your moments of loneliness in the midst of an overcommitted, stressful life? You lead a busy life, mostly doing good things. You interact with many people, but, at times, it feels like they are receiving more than they are giving. You are not so much complaining as recognizing that there are moments when you yearn for something more fulfilling.

Consider inviting some good friends to a refreshing experience. What are the elements that might be part of a pleasant evening? Simple food, like pizza or Subways, in a location that permits good conversation and privacy. The seating needs to invite people to be comfortable and to hear each other without strain. Confidentiality is an essential rule.

TOPIC OF CONVERSATION

Your intention is to have an evening where the conversation has depth but is not draining. You want everyone to come away from the evening stimulated and refreshed. People need to think about a topic ahead of time, yet you do not want the advanced preparation to be burdensome for busy people. My suggestion is that some provocative short stories or a good novel might offer a foundation for such a conversation. If the story is enjoyable but the theme addresses an important subject that stretches the mind, then people can look forward to hearing the responses of good friends.

That brief experience of loneliness experienced in the midst of a busy life is addressed by solid conversation with good friends that feels like you can share your evolving thoughts and feelings without having to defend a particular position. An informal book club or discussion group can be a healing experience.

 

STORIES THAT PROBE LIFE’S ISSUES

 

I want to offer three volumes of short stories about clergy confronting real challenges and temptations as they seek to respond to God’s call in their lives. Each can provide a framework for a deeper discussion. If you want to probe a volatile issue that challenges both church and society, I offer my mystery novel, A Star and a Tear, which probes the power of sex to both create and destroy human community.

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OR PLAY A GAME TOGETHER

DOCTRINE, DOCTRINE, WHO’S GOT THE DOCTRINE

 

A theological game for Clergy Fun

The set up for this game is that you invite three or four colleagues to breakfast or lunch and tell them you are going to introduce them to a fun game that may have rich resources for some of their future sermons and ministry.

When they have gathered and have their food or drink before them, explain that you want to play a game you have titled “Doctrine, Doctrine, Who’s Got the Doctrine.” Set a pair of dice on the table. Explain that when you roll the dice, you will use the die on your left to identify the person sharing a pastoral issue and the die on your right will indicte the person whose task is to name a theological doctrine that s/he thinks speaks to that situation. For example, the first person may say “I think many churches are facing financial concerns.” The second person would respond, “The doctrine of stewardship should be explored. And one aspect of that is that stewardship explores how all we have is a blessing from God and we are called to be good stewards or managers of what we have.”

The idea is not to completely develop the implications of the theological doctrine but simply suggest its relationship to the issue raised. When the dice are cast again, the next person indicated might suggest that many people are becoming anxious about the threat of terrorism in our society. The responder might suggest that churches could benefit from examining the meaning of the sovereignty of God.

The idea is to have fun among colleagues while relating some of the primary doctrines of faith to challenges facing the members of our churches. Each time the die is cast, a new pair is identified. Don’t get into long discussions about the doctrines. Keep the game moving. Have fun and even make exaggerated connections that might stimulate laughter.

You might even invite the participants to share any sermons that have been stimulated by the conversation.

GOD CARES ABOUT THOSE WHO GOD CALLS. IT IS IMPORTANT THAT THEY CARE ABOUT THEMSELVES AS AN ACT OF FAITH.