The Taser's Edge

Method Over Madness
January 31, 2007, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I have been thinking lately about visiting the on-campus psychological clinic.  For the most part I am doing well, but I also know that anxiety still is near my surface.  And a psychologist will tell you that anxiety can often trigger depression.

 This week I signed the Life Style Agreement of the United Methodist Church.  Generally speaking, I find such things to be legalistic (see Moody Bible, Wheaton, and other conservative Christian schools).  But I really do think that pastors should be held to a very high standard of moral living.  There are really difficult and high standards laid out in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1:6-9.  If these standards were followed, we might have a shortage of clergy, but we would also have a shortage of Jim Bakers, Ted Haggards, and clergy abuse scandals.

 Here it is, Paragraph 304.2 from the United Methodist Book of Discipline (this is the official UMC book which lays out church doctrine, organization, and everything else):

 “For the sake of the mission of Jesus Christ in the world and the most effective witness to the Christian gospel, and in consideration of the influence of an ordained minister in the lives of other persons both within and outside the Church, the Church expects those who seek ordination to make a complete dedication of themselves to the highest ideals of the Christian life.  To this end, I agree to exercise responsible self-control by personal habits conducive to bodily health, mental and emotional maturity, integrity in all personal relationships, fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness, social responsibility, and growth in grace and in the knowledge and love of God.”

At the same time that I am glad that my church body requires its pastors to sign these things yearly, I find myself wondering how the church actually applies it.  There are, for instance, a whole lot of obese United Methodist pastors out there.  Is that something which should bring us pause when allowing them continue to be Christian leaders?

Not to be too judgmental of others (although I think I still am), the part that sticks out to me is “personal habits conducive to bodily health, mental and emotional maturity.”  When I first read it, I conflated the two ideas and though that it was addressing physical and mental health.  It’s not.  But perhaps it should be.  I still know that anxiety lurks inside of me, that it occasionally surfaces alongside my old friend and tempter, depression.  Am I undermining my Christian witness and efficacy as a future pastor by not seeking out professional help?  I would have to say that I think so.


There is a principle that I seem to want to hold to in almost every other situation: If you know that there is a problem, then you should address it, regardless of whether it is in your immediate power to fix it.  That applies to rifts in relationships with other people, to harmful addictions whether to alcohol or the Internet, and to clear sins such as anger or lust.  So why do I see anxiety that still needs taken care of and not do anything about it?

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