Last week I read two devotionals on Wednesday and Thursday regarding the Gerasene demoniac in Mark 5,(“The Right Weapon” and “Managed or Solved?” by Lorraine Ezell at www.mastersbusiness.org). The first one was on how the people sought to manage the problem through restraints and other physical means. Then, when Jesus dealt with the problem, he addressed it with spiritual means. The point was that sometimes we try to manage the symptoms or consequences of a problem when we should be solving the root of the problem…..the spiritual issue.
In the work in which I now find myself, I have to do both….implement the physical management approach (restricting students’ access to the secular world and the substances they used/abused, addressing the behaviors and thought patterns that got them where they are, etc) and introduce the spiritual solution (a relationship with Christ and learning to walk in Him daily).
The two brief devotionals were tremendously helpful in giving me clarity on the task that I have. Over the last 5 years I have been engaged in Christian spiritual formation in a church environment and have found it very rewarding. But now I am also involved in substance addiction recovery and, while spiritual formation is the primary tool, there is an additional strategy required to deal with the behavior and thought patterns that our students bring into the program. That strategy includes setting boundaries and curfews, dishing out consequences for rules violations, monitoring their radio and CD listening, checking their bags and mail, and numerous other things that don’t appear to have a thing to do with spiritual formation.
The same day I read the second devotional, “Managed or Solved?”, I received another devotional from a regular source, www.hispeace.org, Ken Sande’s Peacemaker Ministry website, entitled, “Congratulations: You’ve Been Promoted to Management!” , that dealt with the concept of stewardship in conflict management.
God has such a sense of humor! My new job is indeed a “management” position, but now I have a much greater appreciation of what that really means and how it fits with my primary task of bringing the solution to the problem of sin in their lives to them through teaching them about Christ.