Like a locomotive barreling down the tracks, emotions often fuel the motion and direction of pastoral relationships. While many will want to exchange any emotional drive for a perceived healthier “rational approach,” God designed every human with emotions. How you, as a pastor, engage those emotions in relational interaction, will influence either positively or negatively.
Over the course of the next two articles, we will examine 8 essentials of core human emotions to harness their energy in practicing relational wisdom.
- Emotions are hardwired into all people as a part of God’s good creation.
God created each person physically, spiritually, and emotionally. And God created all of it to be good (Psalm 139:13-14). He created us in His own image, even creating us emotionally different in that He made both male and female (Genesis 1:26-27)! The language of the Bible – from cover to cover – is filled with emotional terms.
- Emotions complicate much in our relationships.
The word “emotion” in Latin means “to move.” And indeed, emotions do move us, one way or the other…or another! Emotions are often activated by our sensory perception – by what we see or hear or physically feel. Emotions are often manifested because of our beliefs, values, or convictions. They almost always produce a physical response, and many times empower the will to action. And all of this can happen simultaneously and quick, fast, and in a hurry. Put two or more people together with all of this going on and you have an environment of real excitement! And I am not even talking about teenagers!
- Emotions often drive damaging actions and activities.
Christian apologist J. Warner Wallace, a cold case detective in Los Angeles has declared that all crimes find their origin in one of three places – the desire for power, money, or sex. Lust, anger, jealousy, pride, bitterness, and a wide array of other emotions often propel the sinful human nature to act in destructive ways.
- Emotions often produce admirable actions.
Solid relationships spring from love, joy, compassion, loyalty, respect, and a multitude of other positive emotions. Caring for the poor, helping the downtrodden, forgiving the offender, and serving one another are all generated from emotional responses to perceived needs. Even the Lord Jesus was moved emotionally while ministering to individuals and multitudes. God designed each of us to be moved with compassion, love, and sometimes even anger.
Emotions play an important role in pastoral ministry. As we explore the effects of emotions, let us continue to learn, engage, and respond in ways that demonstrate a sanctified approach to emotional expression in ministry.