As a minister in a local church setting I had, at times, church members who struggled with addiction. I have to be honest with you; I did not have a lot of tools at my disposal like I do now. It took me a while to get some traction in that area and I hope to give some help to ministers who might be in my shoes back then.
It is common in church mission to be about preaching the gospel, making disciples, and baptizing. But along the way we also have to help people to live those principles that lead to Godliness. Often times we are very successful but there are some things that present to louboutin uk us quite the challenge and addiction may top the list.
Addiction is a different animal all together. Addiction happens in a number of ways. For some it happens immediately. The first drink, first pill, first hit is all it takes for some. Something in their body changes and switches on that they christian louboutin outlet uk cannot control. Before they know it their lives spiral out of control and it is no longer theirs.
Others may have experimented or casually used and seemed to have it under control but then something happened and they got lost in the addiction. Perhaps they were preconditioned by mimicking behaviors of other users in their lives. Perhaps addiction ran in the family and was a part christian louboutin uk of their lives for so long they were not taught different. Their use was at first casual, then habitual, then dependent and finally they were addicted. Nobody that is addicted ever planned it. No one sat down one day and decided to become an addict or alcoholic. It is something that happens to them.
Addictions become so pervasive that it encompasses one's entire life without permission. It presents quite the challenge to the individual and the minister who is trying to help. It is part of the Christian message to look to God for support and help. But often times the time lag between the prayer and the answer is too long for some. The addicts' drug of choice is a quick answer. Imagine that the anxiety you feel can be "fixed" with a pill or a drink. Instant gratification has quite the pull on someone who has a chaotic life. It is there "goto" means for help. It comes to take the place of God and prayer altogether. There may even be a devotion to it at one point. Not by choice but by need. Because what usually happens in addiction is that the body screams for the substance and the ache inside has to be dealt with. I've seen people fall apart when they are told they have to give up a particular drug to find sobriety. They learn to turn to that substance like you and I turn to God and prayer. Their surrender to their addiction mirrors our surrender to God. Just as you cannot imagine a life without God, neither can they live without their liquor or substance.
It becomes so necessary they are willing to forgo all else. Family, jobs, hopes, dreams, food. the list can go on and on. All gets put behind them and only ruin and pain follow. Those consequences begin to pile up and may move your church member to come to you for help. If that happens, your job just got easier, but if not then what should you look for?
There are some characteristics that are common in addiction that you can look out for. If you notice a drop in attendance or a drop in giving tithes or services, that may be a clue. Selfishness, impulsiveness and blaming are other character traits that are common in addiction. Sometimes appearance may change because there is little time for daily routines. People who drink a lot tend to have high blood pressure and that appears in the red cheeks or the red nose. Meth addicts may pick at facial skin and arms. Heroin and opiate addicts may nod off a lot, but are irritable when coming down off of the drug. Sometimes there are no visible signs, but you find out from others that someone has an addiction to drugs or alcohol. So what do you do when you are made aware of this happening in your church? How do you minister?
Foremost and easiest is to remember "Love". Remember they did not get here by design. They didn't choose this, it chose them. Someone once said that an addict is a cold shivering puppy in the corner that is very scared and ready to bite the hand that reaches out to help. Approach them with a lot of love and without condemnation. Their own condemnation is enough, they don't need yours. They need your love and compassion. Remember they are not their disease nor are they the things they have done in their addiction. Addicts tend to define themselves by their behaviors. It is our job to point them to the reality that they are children of a loving and kind God who wants them back and died for them. Please treat them as such.
Judgment is already felt so if we can look past their behaviors and address the underlying reason for their using, your ministry will be more effective. Bottom line with addiction is that they don't like the way they feel so they try to alter their feelings with something and drugs or alcohol often does the trick. Find out what they are feeling and address that. What circumstance led up to that feeling and talk about that, find the solution and help them to move on in a healthy way. Many times a traumatic event occurred they don't want to remember and their drug of choice helps them forget. Their drug or alcohol use may have started as a coping mechanism or a way to avoid unpleasant feelings, but it can become a louboutin outlet uk substance that the body needs just to feel "normal" or avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Help your church member to reach out to God; that power that is greater than them and their disease. That power that can change hearts and minds that power that can change ideas, perspective and attitudes that feed the disease of christian louboutin uk sale addiction. Their guilt may have kept them from God; they may have a skewed image of God that is keeping them from Him. By your love and compassion, you may open the door for them to enter into a saving or healing relationship with God. People in addiction have wandered from their spiritual roots and are left with a spiritual void that they cannot fill with drugs or drink. Help them find that spiritual road again or perhaps for the first time.
If caught early enough these ideas can help, but if the addiction is deep and complex, seek out help through a treatment facility where the spiritual part of recovery is addressed. Education can take people far in working with addiction, but combined with a spiritual solution success is possible in a greater degree. Remember to bind the wounded, heal the broken hearted, let loose the captives. My prayers are with you as you tackle this most pressing problem of our time.