Case Scenario: Simon Part 1
Simon is a 47-year-old regular member in a local church. He is married with two children. He works as a medical doctor in a private hospital. He’s intelligent, witty and amiable. He came to Christ in university and has been well-trained in handling the Bible. But all is not well in Simon’s life: ‘My life is out of control. I’m overstretched at work. I feel overwhelmed’. Marital arguments are increasingly frequent, intense, and insoluble. He co-leads his home group, but has been absent regularly and his own devotional life is in bad shape. Recently, he worked late at the office and got close to a female colleague. They went out for drinks. While ‘nothing happened’ he realized afterwards how close he was from crossing the line. That persuaded him to sought help for his mounting problems.
What do you think of the situation?
How would you typically respond?
What are typical Christian responses to difficult pastoral issues? e.g. suicidal, sexual addiction, ongoing grief, SSA (board it)
Case Scenario: Simon Part 2
Following Sunday, Simon explained his situation to his friend Tony. Simon felt comforted that Tony was sympathetic towards his challenges in juggling work and his household. Tony also shared his own difficulties. Simon is glad that they ‘shared’ but knows that he has no new advice and no spiritual perspective on his situation. Simon also chatted with Henry, a church deacon. After listening, Henry pointed Simon to talk to one of the church elders, as he deemed Simon’s issue ‘serious’.
Simon’s pastor listens carefully to his story. He opens the Bible and reads Eph.5 & 6 with him. He tells Simon that the needs to love his wife and be a good father. He also needs to spend less time at work. He also points him to 1Cor.6 that he should flee temptations. He tells him to read his bible regularly and make home group a priority. He urges Simon to see this as a crisis point and that if he doesn’t act now it will be too late. Simon felt rebuked and corrected, and thankful for some serious direction. He determines to change.
For the next few months Simon gets his life in order and his new commitment to self-discipline seems to be working. He manages more time at home, he only misses one home group meeting and is more disciplined in getting up early to have a quiet time. He is delighted by his spiritual progress and makes a point of letting his friend Simon know how well he is doing.
What do to think of the situation?
What do you think of Simon’s and the pastor’s responses?
What do you think lead to these typical responses?
Case Scenario: Simon Part 3
Soon Simon’s old overwork tendency returns and he again finds himself out for a drink with his female colleague and this time things did cross the line. Simon felt deeply ashamed. He cannot bring himself to return to his pastor or speak to his friend. He begins something of a double life; he continues to lead his home group. Generally, at church he gives the impression that all is well. In reality the patterns of overwork and spiritual decline are worse than ever.
A month later, the pastor catches up with Simon after a morning service and asks how things are going. Almost without thinking Simon finds himself saying that everything is fine. In reality he feels stuck, wretched and alone.
What do you think now of the earlier responses?
Case Scenario: Simon Part 4
Frustrated by his lack of progress, dismayed at what happened with his female colleague, Simon is determined to do something. He’s heard about a life counsellor at work. Met up once. Soon they’re meeting regularly.
The life counsellor helps him with time management strategies and priority setting. Things begin to improve. The life counsellor talks to him about his punishing schedule and how he denies himself ‘treats’. He wonders if this might be tied with aspects of his Christian faith. Simon takes up some new hobbies, he is a happier person and better company.
The pastor notices the improvement in Simon’s life and soon restores him to home group leadership. He even begins to preach occasionally. Later that year a member of Simon’s home group mentions that he is finding life hard and feeling overwhelmed. Simon suggests he gets in touch with a life counsellor he knows……