Church congregations look to their leaders for spiritual guidance, which is why it is disastrous for a church leader to fall into the binds of addiction. When pastors, priests or deacons succumb to addiction, they place themselves and those they are an example to in jeopardy. Addiction is an inherently selfish condition that places a substance or a behavior on a higher pedestal than God is on. This can only lead to destruction. When a church leader recognizes that they have been overcome by addiction, it is very important that they seek addiction treatment immediately before they attempt to continue their profession.
Selecting the right rehabilitation center is the first step in the recovery process for addicted church leaders. It is important to find a reputable rehab that incorporates Christian teachings into its treatment program. Christian church leaders should be aware that there are some treatment programs designed specifically for church leaders and similar professionals. Many treatment centers focus on certain groups of people, typically related professions or professions with comparable demands. There are particular addiction treatment programs for those who are in ministry such as a Christian alcohol rehab or a Christian drug addiction center.
If the addiction is to a substance, the church leader will go through a detox before beginning the psychological treatment program. This is to rid the body of toxins, reset the sleep schedule and get the body and brain alert for reconditioning. It is worthwhile to conduct this process under the care of professionals in order to prevent relapse and ease the unpleasant or dangerous symptoms of withdrawal.
After the detox, the church leader will enter into the psychological exploration of why they became addicted and how to change their thinking. Christian rehabilitation puts God at the center of all the cognitive behavioral exercises that are conducted. Dependence on a higher power for the strength to deny addiction comes back to God. Healing for the painful moments in a person’s past comes back to God. Thinking intelligently and with reverence to mental and physical health comes back to God. Clients will also have access to meditative, therapeutic recreation such as nature walks, and to spiritual nourishment and worship time through regular church attendance.
Recent studies and investigations into the church have revealed that Christians struggle with addiction as much as secular society does. This information has changed the way we view the church and how well the church body applies the lessons of faith they claim to live by. However, even more poignant is the knowledge that church leaders are also addicts far more often than we would guess. This was recently illustrated in the media by the horrific claims coming out of the Catholic church about the sexual relations that priests had with alter boys. This is an extreme example of criminal sex addiction that took place within the church, but other studies have revealed that pastors, priests, deacons and elders within the church are also susceptible to addiction at alarming rates.
It would seem that church leaders succumb to addiction under the same reasoning that church members do. They tell themselves that as long as no one knows, no one can be affected by it. They convince themselves that indulging in their addiction secretly will keep them level and happy so that they can serve their congregation better. They also convince themselves that corruption will not enter into their lives through their addiction because they are righteous, so as long as no one finds out about it, they will not leave an impression of addiction on someone who is spiritually weaker than they are. For this reason, church leaders tend to protect the secrecy of their addiction fiercely.
It goes without saying that their logic is erred, and their behavior is unacceptable. Firstly, indulging in an addiction is putting it over God, and anyone who believes they are free of consequences in this regard is deluded. Putting anything over God in your life creates a foothold for the devil, who will not cease to pick at you until your life is unraveled, which is exactly what addiction does to people. Secondly, believing that you can be an addict and not affect the lives of the people you care about is also an illusion. You will inevitably hurt the people you care about because you are ignoring God’s commandments and the spiritual character that he has called you to.
Posted on October 9, 2014