As a priest/pastor, I need and hope to help people to conquer their addictions, for example, alcohol. At first, we need to distinguish what might be considered normal use of alcohol, for example, from dependent or addictive use of alcohol (and a variety of other substances and “things”).
In his book, “Addiction and Pastoral Care”, Nicholas Roberts quotes different experts’ definitions of addiction, addiction “is a syndrome in which a reward seeking behaviour has become out of control” and “an excessive desire for the consumption of a variety of drugs and difficulties in giving up their use…”
According to these definitions, I do not think my normal enjoyment of coffee should not be considered an addiction. At least, I can have my days without coffee, but what about my cell phone? Are there any harms if I have been addicted to the cell phone?
A book called “Children’s book of Classic Catholic Prayers” edited by Robert F. Morneau includes the following prayer called “Act Of Love”:
“My God, I love you above all things because you are all good. I love you as the creator of life, I love you as the one who has forgiven our sins and opened the gates of heaven. I love you as the Spirit whom you have sent among us to guide us in this world. Because of my love for you, I love my neighbor as myself. Amen.”
We are children of God, therefore, this prayer is also for us. Pray this prayer and grow daily in faith, hope, and love.
In his book, “Church Marketing 101: Preparing Your Church for Greater Growth”, Richard Reising points out that “Change is a requirement of growth. No change means no growth. One of the biggest challenges I see in churches is that they commonly get stuck in the generation in which they felt the greatest spiritual impact…Let me challenge you, do not have a sense of self that clings to the past. God is doing a new thing!”
I have seen and experienced what Reising describes here. Many declining and closing churches are still living in their “good old days”. Therefore, these churches could not keep and attract younger generations; most of their members are either the Builders or the Boomers (for some Chinese churches, the majority of their members are the “young” Boomer and the “old” Busters). Even though some of them called themselves missional, their programs are for their own generations and members only.
“24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.” (John 12:24-26)
In her book, “How To Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going: Leading in a Liminal Season”, Susan Beaumont points out that:
“Unfortunately, communities of faith often behave as if past experiences are naturally repetitive. ‘Out attendance was much higher when we advertised in the yellow pages. We should advertise in the yellow pages again.’ In liminal seasons we need to learn new responses to changing conditions. Instead of repeating the past, we must iterate. Repetition is the recurrence of the same action or even in response to a stimulus. Repetition is static. If I do X, it will result in Y. Unfortunately, repetition doesn’t yield much learning…Iteration also involves doing something again and again. However, in iteration each new act is influenced by the previous experience and slightly adapted to learn something more. We focus on incorporating the learning from the experiment and integrating what is novel into what is known”.
In the past, my intention of visiting churches, attending seminars, and reading books is to see how much I can “repeat”. I also see churches trying very hard (I should say in their best) to “repeat” their work so that their “old glories” are able to be “repeated”. It often foreshadowed the decline of the churches.
After our intention of visiting, attending and reading is changed to “iteration”, we will learn and grow.
In her book “How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going: Leading in a Liminal Season” Susan Beaumont points out that:
“Anxious people tend to behave badly. And when they do, a leader’s energy is often directed at coping with the dysfunctional behavior of a few, rather than focusing on the health of the whole. An effective leader resists being drawn into the dysfunctional and remains focused on health and hope”.
I used to try my best to please, comfort, and calm the few with dysfunctional behavior. I usually end up becoming very tired and losing all my energy (and even hope) to serve and lead others. I myself so often became dysfunctional when I was drawn into the dysfunctional.
Therefore, we should not give all that we have to those with dysfunctional behavior. We have to remain focused on health & hope.