The Crabby Pastor

107: A Pastor's Guide to Religious Scrupulosity

April 02, 2024
107: A Pastor's Guide to Religious Scrupulosity
The Crabby Pastor
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The Crabby Pastor
107: A Pastor's Guide to Religious Scrupulosity
Apr 02, 2024

This week on the Crabby Pastor podcast, I’m thrilled to have Debra Peck, author of "The Hijacked Conscience," join us to illuminate the often misunderstood world of religious scrupulosity. Debra opens up about her personal battle with this form of OCD that entangles fear, sin, and relentless spiritual rituals. Together, we dissect the complexities of this condition, aiming to equip pastors and counselors with the knowledge to provide empathetic and informed support.

Imagine feeling trapped in a cycle of doubt and ritual, a relentless quest for spiritual assurance that never comes. This episode delves into the heart of such struggles, examining the fine line where fervent faith meets mental health challenges. It’s a candid exploration of the relationship between faith, doubt, and the human psyche, offering solace to those yearning for certainty in their divine relationship.

This conversation is more than just an exploration of religious scrupulosity; it’s a lifeline for leaders seeking to maintain their well-being to serve their congregations effectively. Tune in for an episode that promises guidance, hope, and understanding for anyone touched by the delicate interplay of faith and mental health.

Here is a link to her book: CLICK HERE

Support the Show.

This is a GUILT-FREE zone! So here's your friendly nudge about self-care and its importance for the sake of your family, friends, and those you serve in ministry.

Get your FREE Burnout Questionnaire to help you assess whether you are dealing with just general tiredness or something MORE.
CLICK HERE FOR THE BURNOUT QUESTIONNAIRE.

I love scouring around to find great content to share, and am always interested in feedback, if you are or know of someone willing to share their Back from Burnout story so we can all learn together, then
CLICK HERE to email me.

And, if this is a reminder you wish to opt out of, that's fine too.

Blessings on your journey!

Margie

🦀 🦀 🦀

Find regular support on my Facebook group by clicking HERE.

Connect with me about COACHING and Workshops on self-care HERE.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

This week on the Crabby Pastor podcast, I’m thrilled to have Debra Peck, author of "The Hijacked Conscience," join us to illuminate the often misunderstood world of religious scrupulosity. Debra opens up about her personal battle with this form of OCD that entangles fear, sin, and relentless spiritual rituals. Together, we dissect the complexities of this condition, aiming to equip pastors and counselors with the knowledge to provide empathetic and informed support.

Imagine feeling trapped in a cycle of doubt and ritual, a relentless quest for spiritual assurance that never comes. This episode delves into the heart of such struggles, examining the fine line where fervent faith meets mental health challenges. It’s a candid exploration of the relationship between faith, doubt, and the human psyche, offering solace to those yearning for certainty in their divine relationship.

This conversation is more than just an exploration of religious scrupulosity; it’s a lifeline for leaders seeking to maintain their well-being to serve their congregations effectively. Tune in for an episode that promises guidance, hope, and understanding for anyone touched by the delicate interplay of faith and mental health.

Here is a link to her book: CLICK HERE

Support the Show.

This is a GUILT-FREE zone! So here's your friendly nudge about self-care and its importance for the sake of your family, friends, and those you serve in ministry.

Get your FREE Burnout Questionnaire to help you assess whether you are dealing with just general tiredness or something MORE.
CLICK HERE FOR THE BURNOUT QUESTIONNAIRE.

I love scouring around to find great content to share, and am always interested in feedback, if you are or know of someone willing to share their Back from Burnout story so we can all learn together, then
CLICK HERE to email me.

And, if this is a reminder you wish to opt out of, that's fine too.

Blessings on your journey!

Margie

🦀 🦀 🦀

Find regular support on my Facebook group by clicking HERE.

Connect with me about COACHING and Workshops on self-care HERE.

Margie:

Hey, there it's Margie Bryce, your host of the Crabby Pastor podcast, where we talk about all things sustainability, whether it's sustainability in ministry, in your personal life and we acknowledge that the church is in a transitional time, so we hit topics there too that are going to stretch your mind and the way you lead, especially how you lead yourself, so that you don't become the crabby pastor. So how do the pieces of your life fit together? Do they fit together well and things are humming along just fine, or are there some pieces that are tight or absent or just not fitting the bill? This is your invitation to join me in my glass workshop for a video series, where I am going to do a stained glass project while I talk to you about sustainability and building sustainability into your heart and into your life. So I am going to be doing my art, which is a form of self-care, and I'm going to invite you into that space with me and I'm going to chat. I'm going to chat about self-care and I'm going to show you how I create, and there's a nifty, nifty analogy Stained glass seems to be a very good metaphor for what I want to talk about, so I'd love for you to join me to do that. To opt in, I'll need you to email me at crabbypastor at gmailcom. That's crabbypastor at gmailcom. So you won't want to miss this. You definitely won't want to miss this, so make a plan to join me in the glass workshop.

Margie:

Margie Bryce, here I am the host of the Crabby Pastor podcast, and we talk a lot about self-care, and, at the same time, we also bring topics to you that are informative, something that pastors should be aware of, or maybe it's on the order of what is wrong with the sheep. It's either what's wrong with us or what's wrong with the sheep One of the two. Today, though, I think we're bringing a rather interesting topic to you about religious scrupulosity. That's a mouthful for sure, and I have with me author Deborah Peck. She talks about this, and her book is the Hijacked Conscience, and I am going to let her give you a bit of an introduction about who she is and how she came to write this book.

Debra:

So, yes, as Margie mentioned, my name is Debi and I recently wrote a book on religious scrupulosity obsessive compulsive disorder. And what led me to write the book is that I have suffered with religious scrupulosity for most of my life, starting at about age 11 or 12. And it was not diagnosed until about eight years ago, when I was in my late forties or well, early fifties.

Margie:

And in there somewhere right.

Debra:

Yeah, in there somewhere. Yeah, I lose track now of how long. I guess it's been about 10 years, so it was in my late forties. And the reason why it went so long undiagnosed is because it presents as a spiritual issue and I'll get more into that later.

Debra:

But who do you take your spiritual issues to? You take them to your pastor or to other religious leaders, and pastors and religious leaders are not trained to recognize scrupulosity, and so it goes undiagnosed and untreated If it ends up in a counselor's office quite often. So I went through years of counseling but it was never identified because I never talked to my counselors about my spiritual issues. I just talked to my pastors about those, and so when pastors don't know how to treat scrupulosity correctly, they can actually do more harm in trying to help the people that have scrupulosity.

Debra:

So I wrote this book. I started writing it primarily for pastors so that pastors would be able to recognize it, and then, as I wrote it, expanded to, I found found that counselors also are not well-versed in scrupulosity, and so I started writing for counselors and then, of course, for anybody that might suffer from scrupulosity. And it's been a long journey. It was to spend all those years undiagnosed and then, once I was diagnosed, to the healing that took place in me. I want to help other people heal as well.

Margie:

Sure, sure, I have never heard of this. I mean, I've heard of being conscientious, okay yes. I probably would fit in that category, for sure. But what can you tell us about what scrupulosity is?

Debra:

So the easiest way I find to explain religious scrupulosity is to start with another kind of obsessive compulsive disorder that we're all familiar with. You know the hand washing one, where people are afraid of germs. So they'll be walking along and their hand will brush a table and they're like, oh, there could be a germ on my hand. And then their brain tells them, oh, somebody with the flu might have touched that, I might have flu virus on my hand. And the anxiety grows. And how do they deal with the anxiety? They wash their hands because they need to make certain that they don't have any germs on their hand.

Debra:

With religious scrupulosity, the germ, so to speak, is sin. A person with scrupulosity fears that they have sinned or they will sin, or that they're not doing their religious duties correctly, like they're not praying correctly or not reading their Bible correctly, or they're not. Whatever the religious thing that they happen to be focused on is. They might think, well, maybe I haven't asked for forgiveness for my sins correctly or said the sinner's prayer correctly, or been serious enough, and so it's a constant anxiety that I haven't done enough or that I am sinning or I'm going to sin. And then another portion of that for scrupulosity is what's called unwanted and intrusive thoughts.

Debra:

Now, every type of OCD has this. So for a person with germs, the unwanted thought might be oh, there's germs out there, I'm going to get sick, I'm going to die if I have a germ. For a person with scrupulosity, an unwanted thought might be a blasphemous thought about God, or a sexual thought about God, or a thought about harming somebody you know drowning their child, somebody you know drowning their child. And for a person with scrupulosity, they think if I have the thought I am, I must want to do it. So, therefore, I am guilty of the action, as if I had actually done the thought. And so there's.

Margie:

I mean jesus said if you have lusted after someone who have done, you know the thing Right. I mean, how do you?

Debra:

distinguish. It goes back to understanding about thoughts. So I use the example in my book of we are bombarded with information all the time. We see billboards, we see news programs, we see social media. So say, for instance, we see on the news tonight that somebody drowned their children. So the next day we're giving our child a bath and the thought crosses our mind I could drown my child. Well, everybody has thoughts that go through their head. It doesn't mean that's what they want to do or it's what they would do, it's just their brain is aware that sometimes people do drown their children. So a thought will flick through our head. For a person with scrupulosity, we grab onto that thought and think. I actually thought that thought. But it's just the synapses in our brain throwing ideas out there, throwing stuff out there, and most people can just let go on down the stream. They don't, they don't have to think about it anymore. They're like, oh, that's a creepy thought and let it go. But so it's a thought.

Margie:

With religious spruculosity, is going to fixate. Is going to then, you know, maybe end up at the altar on Sunday. Yes, because they'll think oh.

Debra:

I must want to kill my child, so I'm an evil person, or I might be demon possessed, or that Satan might be trying to confuse me, and it's a very debilitating thing. But to learn to differentiate between a thought and thinking about something and I think that is what Jesus was getting at you might have a thought go through your head oh, there's an attractive person, I could have an affair with that person. Well, of course you're going to say no, that's not the way I live. But for a person with scrupulosity, they're like oh, I must be a terrible person, I must want to have an affair. And no, everybody has thoughts. It's not the same as thinking a thought. To think about it, you have to actually grab onto it.

Margie:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Because that's a pretty nuanced idea here you know yeah it really is.

Debra:

I mean, well, there's in in the cycle in the field of psychology there's a thing called thought, action fusion. Okay, and that just refers to how, for a person with scrupulosity, they, they think if they thought the thought, they're guilty of the action, as if they committed the action, and there's a whole spectrum. So a person with very little thought, action fusion, it won't even occur to them that, oh, I thought a thought, therefore I want to do the action. They're like, yeah, I don't want to do that, that's not me, it's not my values. But a person with scrupulosity will be on the opposite end of the spectrum, where they think, oh, I'm a really awful person. So they will label themselves all kinds of awful.

Debra:

There were times I called myself a murderer because a thought had gone through my head of drowning my child and so I thought I was as bad as a murderer, not understanding that no, it's a thought and that my brain, the way my, you know, ocd, is wired in our brain and we have to retrain our brain not to act or not to grab onto thoughts, to just let them go and not assign any moral, any moral oh, I don't know what the word is but any morality to it.

Margie:

A thought is a thought.

Debra:

It's not moral, it's not immoral. It's just a thought.

Margie:

until we make a choice about the thought Okay, how did you get diagnosed and understand that there was something more going on with you?

Debra:

Like I mentioned earlier, it took a lot of years. I started when I was about 11 or 12 with scrupulosity and with a very rigid way of thinking and struggled in my spiritual life. I would repeat the sinner's prayer over and over and I would take it to my pastors and they're like well, you just need to have more faith or you must have some secret sin that you're harboring. Or some pastors would say, oh, of course you're saved, but I never felt that I was, and so I struggled with it and struggled with it and about 10 years ago I was part of an online community with other fellow people from my church denomination and I started talking about some of my struggles and a woman on there texted me and said hey, you sound just like my husband and he has this thing called religious scrupulosity.

Debra:

So, being a researcher like I am, I went researching and it was like reading my own story. I was there in every line of what it talked about scrupulosity. Well, I had gone through years of counseling on other types of OCD, like the germ OCD, so I knew how to start working on that. Thankfully, and with some more counseling and help, I was able to mostly. I don't know that I'll ever be totally free from scrupulosity. I still struggle at times, but I know how to deal with it. Recognize it and deal with it now. How does it?

Margie:

develop in people.

Debra:

Is it more about the way your brain is wired or what there seems to be a genetic component to all kinds of OCD. It's not totally genetic, but they think there's a strong genetic component to all kinds of OCD. It's not totally genetic, but they think there's a strong genetic component to it. Part of it can be personality. Those of us who are more just, naturally, personality-wise, are more conscientious, I think, are more prone to it. Every denomination, every religion has it. It's not just a Christian problem or a whatever problem. You have Muslims with it, you have Buddhists, you have non-religious people who have a type of scrupulosity. It just is the way that our brains interact with information and with anxiety.

Margie:

So you're a pastor? Okay, Not you, but anyone is a pastor. How could a pastor kind of be tipped off that there is something more going on with this individual than what you'd normally see in the pastor's office?

Debra:

Yeah, that's a really great question. So some of the things to look for would be like a person who comes to you as a pastor over and over, wanting reassurance, wanting to know, have I sinned, am I doing things correctly? Or needing to confess. A confession is a huge part of scrupulosity, where you have to go confess to somebody what you have done, your sins. So if you have somebody in your office constantly who needs to confess, or with lots of overly, overly conscientious type of person questions, so there are lots of people who are conscientious and some of those people actually derive joy in being conscientious. It doesn't cause anxiety or anything else. But if the person is conscientious and has anxiety related to the conscientiousness, that's a real tip off about it how does this connect with like perfectionism?

Debra:

so perfectionism can be a can be part of of scrupulosity. It's so scrupulosity OCD is actually a mental illness, where perfectionism is not necessarily a mental illness. They can share similar things and the anxiety can share. But for scrupulosity, the overriding thing is fear of eternal damnation, that I'm going to go to hell If I don't do it right. I'm going to go to hell. If I don't do it right, I'm going to go to hell. And for a person with perfectionism, they don't necessarily have that step in there where they think, well, if I don't do it perfectly, I'm going to go to hell. They just have anxiety related to doing it perfect. But for scrupulosity, we live with the overwhelming fear constantly that we are going to go to hell. And it's not god's fault, it's our fault, because we're just so sinful and we're so we're just not doing it right and I mean where's grace in this picture you?

Debra:

know there's grace for other people, for a person with scrupulosity, we do not allow ourselves grace at all because we are so afraid If I allow grace towards myself, then I'm going to go easy on sin in my life and I'm going to end up being deceived. So, yeah, we can be very grace filled toward other people, but toward ourselves we don't dare offer grace because we might get caught up in in sinning you know this.

Margie:

This reminds me of and I think I shared this with you previously when we chatted a friend that we we were on staff at a church and the senior pastor left and we thought he was going about half an hour drive away and then about 20 minutes later he was back and we didn't know it at the time but something had happened on the highway and he turned around and came back.

Margie:

I don't know if it was traffic or an accident or what. We didn't know that at the time. But she said to me oh my goodness, if he made it all the way there and back, he must have been speeding. And it's a good thing that Jesus didn't come back while he was speeding, because he was going to hell and I was like I'm thinking, are you serious? You know, real life is weird enough.

Debra:

I never have to make stuff up, so yeah, no, but that's a perfect example of a scrupulosity sort of thing I was leading, I was presenting in a class at Northwest Nazarene University this week to first year ministry students, and the way I started the class was who here thinks who here follows the speed limits? Who here follows the traffic laws? And then I'm like, well, who here is like my friend Tony, who thinks they're just another man's opinion? And then I said my real question is who here thinks that if you don't follow the traffic laws you'll go to hell? And there were students who were brave enough to raise their hand.

Margie:

What percent? I want to know what percent.

Debra:

It was very small because most of the kids are like, yeah, we don't really follow the traffic laws. But for a person with scrupulosity, there is right or wrong, there is black or white, there is sin or no sin. There's no or wrong. There is black or white, there is sin or no sin. There's no gray areas.

Margie:

I'm listening to this and I'm wondering if this is the result of hellfire and damnation preaching or something it can be, but again, there are atheists who have scrupulosity.

Debra:

It's a function of their brain. There are atheists who have scrupulosity. It's a function of of their brain. So you can it. I think hellfire and damnation preaching can make it much more difficult for people who tend towards scrupulosity, but it it's not limited to us who grew up with that kind of mindset. I did grow up with that and it definitely affected me.

Margie:

Oh, oh yeah, and I think that's pretty, for the most part, kind of passe. That style of presenting the gospel is passe, let me say it that way. So okay, so it's not a large percentage of people, but if you're a pastor and you have somebody chronically showing up and fearful and anxious about whether what they're doing is sufficient to get them into the pearly gates, or right, you know that's kind of a tip off that there is more going on. What would the treatment be?

Debra:

So for pastors there's a couple of things I would say specifically is number one always be compassionate, because scrupulosity is incredibly painful. So meet the person with compassion. But what pastors cannot do is offer assurance, which is just the opposite of what pastors normally would do when a person comes to them concerned about their spiritual life. And for a normal person, assurance is wonderful and appropriate. For a person with scrupulosity, assurance is like a drug. So we have to come back to our pastor over and over and over to get that good feeling again that we're okay. We have to have somebody outside of us say okay. So pastors have to stop offering assurance. If they suspect a person has scrupulosity, don't get pulled into offering assurance and refer them for help. And that's not going to be an easy thing because most of us are very resistant to that Because again, we're afraid oh, maybe I'm being easy on sin if I seek out counseling. Maybe the counselor will convince me I'm not really a bad person and so maybe I will miss heaven if I get counseling. So expect pushback.

Margie:

Or if you go to the psychiatrist or the therapist, that could mean you're going to hell too. I mean, I knew people who went that way.

Debra:

I grew up in a church that did not allow counseling because you were going to be led astray, you were going to be deceived if you went to counseling to them over and over and over for reassurance. And if they don't do that, they set up both themselves and the person that they're trying to help for a very bad experience Because they get frustrated with the person coming back and the person coming back gets frustrated because they need the help and they feel like they're being abandoned. But if, if pastors set good boundaries and and maintain those boundaries and refuse to get drawn into into the reassurance part, that pushes the person to get the appropriate help that they need and it keeps the pastor safe and safe emotionally and safe from burnout. That can happen really quickly when they're dealing with people with scrupulosity. We can wear our pastors out because we are so needy and I am a strong proponent for pastors maintaining those good boundaries for yourself, but for the person as well so you want them to be compassionate but not reassuring?

Margie:

yes, so I'm putting myself in the pastor's shoes for a moment here and just saying how do you be compassionate and but not reassuring? But hold your boundaries, but so that they will get the help that they need? I mean, you would want to send somebody, I would think, to a Christian therapist.

Debra:

Yes.

Margie:

Somebody that's going to have respect for your Christian faith but also have some experience and knowledge of OCD related things as it relates to your faith. So how would you be compassionate but not reassuring, I mean? To me challenging then it's like don't say it'll be okay, it'll be okay. I mean, that's reassuring yeah, yeah.

Debra:

And don't say oh, of course you're saved.

Margie:

You don't say one of my pastors, don't say that yeah, don't say of course you're probably one of the most interesting interviews, I think, because I'm just trying to wrap my mind around something that I know I have gotten glimpses of this kind of thing from from other and a lot of it, you know, was mostly older generation people. The guy at the altar just cried because he would repeatedly go to the altar and he was a senior citizen and you know I didn't know what was wrong. I was kind of a rookie pastor on staff and finally talked to somebody and they said, oh, he was on the beaches at Normandy, you know, and you're like, okay, he couldn't, as he said, get the victory over it.

Debra:

Yeah, and that's a sure sign of scrupulosity when people go to the altar. In church traditions that have an altar like that, where they go to the altar over and, over and over and just can't get the victory, that's scrupulosity talking right there. And it's a sad thing because I think part of it is. We need to reframe preaching along the lines of assurance. So for a person with scrupulosity we must have, or for any OCD, the goal is absolute certainty, and so we have been taught subtly that if you have doubt, that doubt is the opposite of faith. Well, doubt is not the opposite of faith. Unfaith is the opposite of faith. Unfaith is the opposite of faith Doubt.

Debra:

It is actually impossible to have faith if there's not the possibility of doubt and because otherwise you don't need faith. If it's 100% sure thing that you can nail it down, you don't need faith for that. But you can't nail down your salvation. You can't put it out on the table and look at it and say, oh, I'm saved for sure. There is always that possibility, but then you go back to putting it back on where it should be. God is the one responsible for us, and when we've given our lives to him, it's his responsibility to hold on to us, and we do. We, of course, want to live a life that's not sinful. I'm from a Nazarene tradition, a Wesleyan tradition where we believe that we are tradition, a Wesleyan tradition where we believe that we can live free from sin, that we don't have to sin, and that should be the goal. But I don't have to nail it down and say, well, I am so 100% sure that I said the sinner's prayer correctly, I can trust.

Margie:

God, that I have done, you wouldn't fixate on that.

Debra:

Yes, oh, yeah. So there were years of my life where I couldn't ride in a car without saying the sinner's prayer because I was so afraid I'd get in an accident and die. I couldn't plug something into an outlet in case it got electrocuted and died. I needed to make sure I had confessed and made sure I was right with God first, and to let go of that and let God be responsible for me and for my salvation was a huge thing for me. To say I can rest in God's promises, and it's difficult to do. It's difficult to make that thing, to say, okay, I have doubts about my salvation, but I look at my life. I've not sinned, I've not chosen to walk away from God, so I can rest. I don't have to say the sinner's prayer again. I don't have to, in one sense, wash my hands again to make sure I don't have any germs on them, because I've washed them 10 times already.

Debra:

It's a really difficult mental illness. It's one of the most difficult to treat because it deals with our eternal soul. And so, yeah, a Christian counselor or a counselor with coming from your own faith background is really important because you can get and I've heard the stories of people who've gone to non-Christian counselors who have said oh, you just need to let go of your faith. Just tell yourself well, you know, one of them is I don't know if God loves me. That's a big one with scrupulosity, I'm not sure of God's love. Well then, just tell yourself God doesn't love you and move on. Well, that's telling yourself a lie. It's replacing one lie with another lie, which isn't helpful. Yeah, pastors in in being compassionate but not offering assurance. They they can't offer the security that's between the person and God, but they can direct the person to it.

Debra:

One of my pastors would say but years before I knew about scrupulosity, I had a pastor that was really helpful and he appealed to my intellect. He's like the fruit of the spirit is evidence of the Holy Spirit in your life. So if you have the fruit of the spirit growing in you, then you can be assured you have. You are a child of God. So ask yourself am I more loving today than I was six months ago? Am I more patient today than I was six months ago? And if there's growth, that's evidence of this Holy Spirit in your life. And that was really helpful to me, because then it took it outside of my brain going crazy, trying to figure it out to something a little more concrete. That was like okay, I know I am.

Debra:

And he also said if you doubt it, ask your family. Am I more loving? Because God is always at work in our lives. Even when we can't see it, even when we're not aware of it, the Holy Spirit is changing us and remaking us more and more into the image of Christ. That happens to us without our knowing about it, sometimes without our being aware of it, and so those are things we can look for and but yeah, it's hard. It's hard to have a good answer of what to tell pastors to do. It is, and I'm thinking too.

Margie:

I mean, if you're looking at life from the Wesleyan and or Wesleyan holiness perspective, there's a lot to be said for grace and how grace functions in the life of the believer, functions in the life of the believer. But I want to go back to something you said earlier, because you said that even atheists can have this. Atheists wouldn't be scared about going to hell right.

Debra:

Actually, it's a really interesting phenomenon and I didn't know this until I was researching for my book that there are atheists who are actually fearful of displeasing a God that they don't even believe in. So there are atheists who actually have scrupulosity, which makes no religious scrupulosity, which doesn't make sense. There's also another kind of scrupulosity, called moral scrupulosity, that non-christians or non-religious people can have, a moral scrupulosity that is concerned with being a good person.

Margie:

So an atheist can either have more or religious you know, when I think of things like the doctrine of humanity, what it, what it means to be a person, and we are a little messed up. That's kind of just a quickie way to say it. There's stuff wrong with us and that's just the way it is, and God loves us despite that. But do you think that it's people that are not comfortable in that skin, wearing that skin of humanity, and want to shed that so that they are more pleasing to God, which is a works-based theology really?

Debra:

Right. Well, I think there's a huge misunderstanding for a lot of people about our humanity and our flesh. When God created us, he created us good, and so we have Jesus, who was the perfect human, and my friend, dr Diane LeClaire, who's a theologian in the Nazarene Church. She has helped influence me so much in this area of understanding that the more like Jesus we become, the more human we become. So we shouldn't ever say, oh, I'm just human, as if humanity is why we do bad things, do bad things.

Debra:

No, in true humanity, in true who we should be, who we were created to be, the more like Jesus we become, the more human we become, and I find that very redeeming. As opposed to, I've got to rid myself of this human flesh. No, god is in the business of redemption, of redeeming us and of remaking, and we're new creations. No-transcript. Yes, because and it's related to anxiety and fear that if I say that, then what if I go easy on sin? And it's a misunderstanding of it goes back to works-based my salvation by doing this instead of understanding that it is the work of God.

Debra:

And you know, to a degree it's because churches have taught well, we have to, we can't be saved unless we do this, this, this and this. And so we do this, this, this and this and we think that's what saved us. No, it was Christ that saved us.

Margie:

It was the work of God in us, what they don't do real well, because there's scads of people that would run around and say I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior, and I'm not saying that's incorrect here, but what I am saying is that's not an accurate description of the place, right place.

Margie:

I mean, the fact of the matter is that god knocked on your, on your heart, and you responded yes. So you should be saying you know god reached out to me and and I accepted christ as a result of you know god, that would. That fits in with prevenient grace, it fits in with justifying grace and all that. But yeah, so I'm just kind of theologically here. This is really something to grasp and really challenges pastors as well to make sure that they are accurately teaching these things and making sure that it's, you know, the part that we play and the part that God plays, and that God is the one that is the sustainer of our relationship with Christ. I mean, we can walk away, right, I am done with that, but I still think that God comes and chases after and, you know, comes after us.

Debra:

Yes, until the last. I find such comfort in a God who pursues us until there's no more pursuing available. That's the God that I know, that's the God that I love, the God who sought me first and constantly seeks me first. Like you said, god initiates, we respond and we kind of get that backward. Well, like you say, I invited Jesus into my heart. Well, yeah, he. I invited Jesus into my heart. Well, yeah, he was already pursuing me. I stepped into what God already wanted.

Margie:

And then you're saying I too much. That's kind of a tip off that you know you're a little self-centric there instead of God-centric.

Debra:

Yeah, so pastors can do a better job. I think of explaining that and explaining that it is God who does the work in us.

Margie:

Sure. And then you think about Paul and I think he was being a little sarcastic, maybe I don't know what you know he says shall we just keep on sinning so that grace abounds more and more? And you're like well, I mean, you know you can't con God, you really can't. I mean I think you are for a brief moment there, but certainly you can't and you don't. You want to take sin in your life seriously and you want to grow grace and you want to grow closer to Christ. So these it has the essence of good things and many times we'll say that you know our strengths. Our personal strengths can become weaknesses if we take too far which we usually do.

Margie:

And then we have to backtrack and say all right, a little too far with that.

Debra:

Well, I'm going back to why we sin. For a Christian, it's not well. I don't want to sin because I don't want to go to hell. I don't want to sin because I don't want to go to hell. It's I have this relationship with God that means so much to me that I want to live for him, and I grew up in a church situation where it was all preached from the negative, from the fear part, from the you better be sure you're ready.

Margie:

If you don't sign't, go to hell.

Debra:

You know that exactly, and there was. There was none of this beauty of what god does in our lives in the here and now. It was all about eternity way down the road someday, when we die, and nothing about the joy of being in a relationship with God Now. The difference God can make in our lives now, and that is that new creation has already started, is such a beautiful part of this that was never presented to me when I was younger.

Margie:

And and what I think you know, anxiety is like the number one ill of life at the moment. Yeah, maybe it always was, I don't know, but we sure talk a lot about it, more so now than ever before, and dig at it a little bit more now. But at the same time, the peace that passes, understanding it's something that life with Christ can afford us, that, I think, is way under preached, and so I think that that certainly could be helpful, you know, instead, of just fire insurance, you know.

Debra:

Right. Well, it reminds me of I talk in the book about. I grew up with this ask Jesus into your heart and Jesus lives in your heart, and all of this. And for me that caused such extreme anxiety because it's like, oh, I've got God in me, so I've got to be sure I'm doing everything perfect and being perfect. But there's other scriptures that talk about being in Christ. And when I started thinking about what it means to be in Christ, then it took it outside of this me, this little person trying to contain a holy God to a holy God containing me. I'm resting in him and it just, I mean the expanse of who God is and I'm in Christ. It was just a. It took so much of that anxiety away to be able to rest in that and that I don't have to hold on to God, he's holding on to me well, and with that I'm going to conclude our conversation.

Margie:

This has been really interesting, interesting, interesting connections to doctrine of what it means to be human, doctrine of salvation and and all of those kinds of things, and I will put a link to your book in the show notes and I yeah, this has been a real challenging conversation in how could pastors identify people who are struggling with this so that they could get the help that they need? Really solid, you know theology. Drag your sister's theology books out again and just kind of go through that and really make sure that you have that solid foundation out of which you can speak and offer God's grace in appropriate ways, especially to those who are dealing with something like religious scrupulosity. So thank you very much, debbie, for putting me on here. It's a great conversation.

Debra:

Thank you so much for having me.

Margie:

Are you wondering whether your fatigue, your lack of motivation, your lack of interest is burnout maybe? I just wanted to let you know that I have a resource on the website, Margie Bryce dot com that's B-R-Y-C-E Margie Bryce dot com and it is a burnout questionnaire, free for you to download, and kind of self-assess and get a sense of where you're at. There are questions that not only ask about what you're going through but maybe how often you're experiencing it and that's that's kind of a key to where you might be, because you have to know where you are in order to chart a course forward. And most pastors who experience pastors and ministry leaders who experience burnout rarely know that that's where they're at until they're well into it. And if you're unsure about that little statistic, so far, everybody that I've interviewed on this podcast who has experienced burnout, when I asked that kind of question, they're like, yeah, I didn't know that's where I was at. So again, go to margiebricecom it's on the homepage of the website and you can get your burnout questionnaire and kind of see where you're at.

Margie:

Hey friends, the Crabby Pastor podcast is sponsored by Bryce Art Glass and you can find that on Facebook I make stained glass as part of my self-care and also by Bryce Coaching, where I coach ministry leaders and business leaders, and so the funds that I generate from coaching and from making stained glass is what is supporting this podcast and I will have opportunities for you to be a part of sponsoring me and, as always, you can do the buy me a cup of coffee thing in the show notes.

Margie:

But I will have some other ways that you can be a part of getting the word out about the importance of healthy self-care for ministry leaders. Hey, thanks for listening. It is my deep desire and passion to champion issues of sustainability in ministry and for your life, so I'm here to help. I stepped back from pastoral ministry and I feel called to help ministry leaders create and cultivate sustainability in their lives so that they can go the distance with God and whatever plans that God has for you. I would love to help, I would consider it an honor, and, in all things, make sure you connect to these sustainability practices you know so that you don't become the crabby pastor.

Understanding Religious Scrupulosity and OCD
Understanding Scrupulosity and Compassionate Support
Faith, Doubt, and Scrupulosity
Identifying and Addressing Burnout in Ministry