I recently heard the phrase, Discernment By Nausea and I was immediately drawn to it. Perhaps it is because of the season of Lent that we are entering into or perhaps it is because of the season I have personally found myself in and perhaps it is a little bit of both!
The thought behind this phrase is that we often play it safe when it comes to our lives in faith. We get comfortable in the predictability of our day to day’s – the rhythm of waking up and having that first cup of coffee, walking into our offices and preparing for the day ahead, and simply doing the work instead of experiencing the work that we have been called to. This calling is not always a comfortable experience for us and can make us feel a little queasy at times, but the process of pulling us from that which is uncomfortable to experiencing the fullness of that which we are continually being called to is a process worth exploring.
I encourage each of you to take a deep breathe in and begin to contemplate where the Spirit is leading you – perhaps out of your comfort zone into a season of Discernment By Nausea!
The Chrysalis Team is here to offer support and guidance in this and every season.
Care to you this day,
The Chrysalis TeamLearn More
The Christmas tree glows in the corner complete with a tree topper star that projects
snowflakes onto the ceiling. Meanwhile the electric wreath hangs in the window shining its LED
blessing onto the outside world. Another Christmas tree, the small plastic one with the built-in
lights, sits in another room of the house serving as a kind of seasonal night light. Light
everywhere! Come, Lord Jesus. Come.
This actually feels like too much to me. When it comes to holiday decorating—and I mean any
holiday—I am a minimalist. This is especially true for Christmas. My kids and I have some
decorations that we put out, and we have our real and fake trees, but that’s about it. I don’t do
outside lights, I don’t do blow-up yard ornaments, and I sure don’t have a soundtrack that
orchestrates the whole thing.
To me, a little light is all that is needed. A little light breaks the despair of darkness without
burning the retina. A little light reminds me that sometimes that is all that is needed to
cast out fear, to break the power, and to bring hope.
Advent is a one-candle-at-a-time kind of season. It is a season that builds. It is a season that
refuses to overpower. It is a season that invites patience and time to ponder. It is a season that
In this time of lighting candles one by one, Chrysalis invites you to find just enough light for today. If we can help with that,
please know that we are right here. As the old saying goes, “We would rather light a candle than curse your darkness.”
Come Lord Jesus. Come.
The Chrysalis Team
If I’m honest I really only look at two gauges on the dashboard of my truck. I watch my
speedometer and I check my gas gauge. I know that there are other gauges in my information
cluster: tachometer, battery charge, oil temperature, and maintenance. But the truth is that I
only notice this information when something goes wrong or when it beeps or flashes. Most of
the time I just trust that everything is going to work when I start the vehicle.
How many gauges do I pay attention to when it comes to my life and ministry? Over the course
of my career I have certainly known when I was running on empty, so to speak. Sadly I usually
found out how low my tank was when it was too late and I was coasting to a stop. I’ve also
been aware when my engine has been running too high and the stress of pastoral ministry was
making me feel out of control.
What about you? What gauges do you watch? What information do you look for that indicates
whether you’re healthy or not in ministry?
At Chrysalis Counseling for Clergy we know that healthy ministry involves multiple aspects of
life: spiritual, mental, emotional, social, and financial. We also know that pastors are often so
stressed that they fail to see the lights on the dashboard flashing when one or more of these
areas needs attention.
If you paused for a moment this week and took a good long look at the dashboard of your life
and ministry what would the gauges tell you? How full is your spiritual gas tank? Is your mental
tachometer revving high or nice and smooth? Does your emotional gauge show hot or cold? Is
your social life in neutral, park, drive, or reverse? And what about your financial indicators: are
you upside down or right side up?
Is a mechanic or technician needed after this assessment? If so, please reach out to us at
Chrysalis Counseling for Clergy. We are here to help clergy find wholeness and health in
Here for the Long Haul,
The Chrysalis TeamLearn More
One of the issues that can exist for pastors is the blurring of the delicate line between faith in God and loyalty to the church. We hear the story often at Chrysalis Counseling for Clergy. A person experiences the grace of God in a profound way, they have a sense of calling to serve God, and they find a way to live out that calling in the church. In one sense this is the beauty of communities of Christ that nurture the gifts of people and empower them to serve.
But what happens when a person’s experience of the church is a difficult one? What happens when a pastor and a congregation are at odds? What happens when a pastor experiences burnout, physical, or mental health issues, in their ministry? Sometimes the experience of ministry makes clergy question their own faith in God. In these moments clergy may equate faith in God with “successful” ministry. Conversely, they may consider the difficulties of ministry as a failure, or lack of faith. In these moments clergy sometimes create a cause/effect relationship between ministry and faith. This is when we at Chrysalis start hearing phrases like, “I just need to pray harder… I need to be more faithful…I can’t forgive myself…”.
Perhaps a healthier understanding of this tension would be to remember that ministry is an expression of our faith in God. Ministry is the vocation in which we live out our faith, but ministry in and of itself is not our faith. Instead, our faith is in God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. God will never fail us. God’s love is steadfast and unfaltering. Ministry has ups and downs. Ministry has peaks and valleys. Because ministry it is inherently tied up with people it is an experiment in the tension of sin and grace. People can fail us and we can fail people. God’s love never fails.
Perhaps this is why it is helpful for clergy and ministry leaders to make frequent analysis of their own spiritual life and practices. A list of devotional and formative practices that inspire and ground clergy is too numerous to compile here. However, clergy tend to know—whether they admit it or not—if they are really paying attention to the spiritual life.
At Chrysalis Counseling for Clergy we are here to walk alongside clergy in supportive ways. If you are struggling with a scenario like the one described above we can help:
- Differentiate between faith and ministry
- Plot out constructive life/ministry balance
- Help identify spiritual practices
We are here to help.Learn More
July 4, 2023
Happy Independence Day! Perhaps no word resonates with the American democratic experiment than freedom. Our history books and national mythology teach us that freedom was the driving force of what became the United States of America. And yet, we know that despite the promises of the Declaration of Independence not everyone is treated equally even if they are all created equally.
Now, before you think that this post is a political polemic, let’s press the pause button. Rest assured, Chrysalis Counseling for Clergy is not a political action committee. However, freedom is an important topic for our consideration as clergy, ministry professionals, and really anyone who pays attention to the spiritual life.
Freedom, as a spiritual category, finds its most significant roots in the work of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Ignatius understood freedom to mean that we are not attached to anything, anyone, or any decision in such a way that that attachment would keep a person from responding to God. Ignatius called this inordinate attachment. Spiritual freedom is the disposition of the heart in which we recognize that all things are created by God and are a gift of God. At the same time we also pay close attention to being drawn too close to anything or anyone that interferes with this freedom.
While this is a fairly easy concept to understand from a spiritual perspective, it is difficult to practice in real life in real time. For example, have you ever tried to go to sleep only to find your mind reading back through emails from the day? At a very pedestrian level this is an example of inordinate attachment. Holding on. Rehashing. All of those traps we get in can indicate that we are paying too much attention to something that is not the basis of faith: loving God, neighbor, and self. As you can imagine, if spiritual freedom can be applied to how long we think about email, just imagine how significant it is to discerning our vocational calling.
As clergy and ministry professionals we are inundated daily with opportunities to love God through our work, presence, and relationships, However these same experiences can be ones that we hold onto too tightly. We attach ourselves to some because they are a negative experience and they hurt in our heart or they roll around in our heads. Conversely, some of the experiences are so good that we hold onto them as affirmations, as validation, or even as a substitute for the love that we seek and share from the Divine Source—God.
If you were to think about your own ministry, are you able to name situations, moments, or experiences, that you hold onto too tightly? Perhaps an exercise to practice is feeling the difference between a clenched fist—holding on too tightly—and an open hand which can give and receive.
Perhaps this short blog or even the simple practice of clenching the fist and opening the hand has invited you to consider that which you might have an inordinate attachment. If so and you would like to discover more about spiritual freedom reach out to us at Chrysalis. We are here for you.
On your side,
The Chrysalis TeamLearn More