These next few posts are specifically written with pastors, church leaders, and other caring/helping professionals in mind. They are for anyone who takes on the role of helping and walking with people in their brokenness. I believe one of the greatest privileges pastors and other leaders/helpers have is the opportunity to help people in their congregations. The Bible talks about the joy and the blessing of helping and walking alongside other people.
“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” (Hebrews 6:10)
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17)
As much of a privilege as it is to help people, it’s important not to confuse privilege with ease. Helping people isn’t EASY (as in, it’s HARD). It’s also not SIMPLE (as in, it’s COMPLICATED).
While there are some situations where helping is easier or simpler, pastors and other leaders are dealing with extraordinarily difficult and complicated issues with people in the congregations they lead. More than ever before, pastors are being inundated with sexual brokenness issues. Christians are struggling with pornography, affairs, and other forms of sexual sin at almost identical levels as those who do not profess Christ.
Many leaders say that sexual brokenness has become the topic that comes up in pastoral counseling more than any other. They also say, when they’re being honest and vulnerable, that they do not feel adequately prepared to address sexual brokenness. They express fear that they aren’t able to understand what’s going on. They say they’re afraid of giving counsel that actually makes things worse.
How can leaders shepherd sexually broken people with greater confidence, and in ways that actually help?
Knowing that this kind of help isn’t EASY or SIMPLE, I want to offer a few posts to give pastors and leaders a bit more perspective and understanding for these situations.
Greater understanding leads to greater empathy.
Greater empathy leads to greater safety.
Greater safety leads to greater honesty.
Greater honesty leads to greater healing and freedom.
With this as a goal, I want to use the next few posts to look at three important things to understand when offering help, support, and counsel to sexually broken people:
1. What presents on the surface isn’t the whole story.
2. Trauma is an incredibly powerful influence in people’s sexual brokenness.
3. Helping both offender AND offended can be a mine field, but it’s worth it.
These posts will only scratch the surface of each of these topics, but will hopefully increase awareness of how important it is to deepen our understanding of complicated issues. When we do the wonderful, critically important, and emotionally volatile work of helping hurting people, this understanding is something God will use on their path to healing.
Check back soon for Part 2!
Greg Oliver is the Executive Director of Awaken, a faith-based recovery ministry that provides Gospel-based and therapeutically sound help for individuals, couples, and ministry leaders who have been impacted by sexual brokenness. Awaken offers in-person and online recovery meetings for men & women who struggle, and for women whose partners struggle. We also offer 1-on-1 and couple’s coaching, recovery intensives/ workshops, and training/equipping for church leaders. For more info on any of our resources, check out the rest of our site or CLICK HERE.