I’m excited to be speaking in both services at the Davison Free Methodist Church this coming Sunday, 9:30 and 11:00 a.m. I hope to see you there.

Date: August 7, 2016
Time: 09:30 & 11:00 a.m.
Event: Speaking at Davison Free Methodist Church
Topic: Welcoming Truth
Public: Public

What I’ve Learned Since Leaving the Ministry

ministry

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On June 12th (2016), I officially retired from the ministry after being a pastor since 1994. It’s still very new, this being a layman business. But I love it. In fact, I don’t miss the job one single bit. I do greatly miss the wonderful people in my former congregation at Wildwind Community Church, but those are human beings. I reiterate — there’s nothing I miss about the job. That doesn’t mean it’s a terrible job or anything, but it had been getting increasingly difficult and stressful for me for several years before I left. It was past time for me to be done, and I’m sure that’s why I don’t miss it.

As new as the experience is of not being a pastor, I am learning some important things about myself and I want to share them with you because maybe at times you’ve had some of these feelings yourself. If I can help you normalize them, feel less guilty, or otherwise not worry too much about them, that’s valuable to me.

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The Attitude I Choose In These Times

What Are You Choosing?

choose the right path

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We are living in difficult times. It seems every day something happens to shock us, numb us, horrify us, or cause us to question what in the hell is happening to the world. Because of the media (both mainstream and social) we are discovering, to our horror, that in times of great stress many people are ready to choose aggression and fear.

It’s scary, isn’t it? It’s normal to want to find someone to blame. It’s normal to want to lash out at those we feel are responsible. One presidential nominee has grown wildly popular by doing exactly that, discovering that millions of people are willing to join him in his anger, blame, xenophobia, racism, immaturity, and misogyny. But if we choose that path, we will become the mirror image of that which we oppose. We too will end up angry and bitter. Is something beneficial, just because it’s normal? I say by no means.

We actually must reject our base instincts to blame, to get angry, to react without reflection. Now more than ever, we must be sober-minded, careful, and responsible with our words and attitudes. Ultimately the way we react to the awful news around us is a choice and we must each make that choice for ourselves. Here are the attitudes I have chosen.

I choose light and hope. I choose optimism. I choose courage and reject fear. I choose warmth, respect, and patience with imperfection. I choose humility and sober-mindedness. I reject knee-jerk reactions, anger, and any/all politics and policies that characterize all or most members of any race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or political party as “other-than,” as less than fully human or less deserving of compassion.

I accept full responsibility for my own anger and discouragement and fear. I do not blame people with different political viewpoints or different cultures or religions. I can admit certain positions irritate me without casting responsibility for my irritation on those who take those positions.

No matter what, no matter who criticizes me for it, I will cling to these values and ways of being, not because they are easy or convenient, not because I am not often tempted to abandon them, but because when I do abandon them, I become as spiteful, as angry, and as bitter as those I oppose, I become their mirror image. I will not be one more voice of contempt in this bitter world.

I choose God. I choose hope and faith.

I choose love.

Looking for One of My Readers

I want to talk to you!

looking for binoculars

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Several months ago I received one of the kindest, most genuine, honest emails I have ever received. It was fairly lengthy (which I love) and I didn’t have time to respond at the moment so I simply fired off a note that the email was really meaningful to me and that I’d respond in more detail soon.

When I went to respond I couldn’t find the original email so I lost the reader’s email and their contact info. If you read this post and you are the person (a person who described herself as spiritually searching, african-american, and gay), I’m looking for you!

This was such a meaningful email to me and I feel terrible that I never was able to give it the attention it deserved. Whoever you are, if you’re the person I’m thinking of who reached out to me in such a beautiful, heartfelt way, would you please either respond to this post in the comment section or email me at dave at davidkflowers dot com?

I know this is a long shot but I want to do all I can. And, if you’re reading, I’m SO sorry. All these months later I can’t stop thinking about your email and would like so much to find you.

“Christian” and “Counseling”

How do these fit together?

christian counseling

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I recently completed an interview for several of my graduate students about my perspectives on the integration of faith and counseling. I think my answer to one of the questions is something some of my readers might appreciate.

Question: How do you distinguish between secular counseling, Christian counseling, pastoral counseling, and biblical counseling?

Secular Counseling

For me there’s no such thing as secular counseling. I’m not capable of doing it because God is always in my perspective, even if I don’t share that with the client, and oftentimes I won’t, depending on where the client is coming from. I don’t feel any need to make this part of therapy if it doesn’t speak to the client.

Christian Counseling

The most important word in “Christian counseling” is “counseling,” not Christian. In other words, if a therapist is good, sensitive, caring, and intuitive, they can do enormously healing work (which I believe is the work of God). This is true whether or not the therapist acknowledges God in this work. So being a good counselor comes first. If that’s taken care of, the work can be incredible.

The “Christian” thing is a distant second.

Any client should seek a good therapist before seeking a Christian therapist. If they can find a therapist who is both good and Christian, that’s fine.

In my view God is in the act of healing all of creation at this very moment and every human being as part of that creation. Healing is on the way, in process, a given, something that will happen naturally, in God’s ordained order, if we learn how to get out of our own way and let it happen (which all good therapy helps us do, Christian or not).

Healing was a huge factor in the ministry of Jesus, who healed, but usually did not heal and preach at the same time. Healing was his ministry in those moments. He didn’t angle. He didn’t “integrate.” He just acted, in God, from a place of faith, confident that healing was inevitable from that place. I do my work from that place.

Biblical Counseling

When I think of “Biblical counseling” I think of the “nouthetic” counseling movement. NC insists that the Bible contains everything human beings need to know about psychology and uses it as their sole source book. I see this as fundamentalist, deeply flawed, and therefore dangerous.

Pastoral Counseling

I see pastoral counseling kind of like spiritual direction. I help people discern where God is moving/working in their lives, and how they may be getting in the way. I help them work through personal issues that may be affecting their spiritual life or vice versa. Anyone who has read the work of the Desert Fathers and Mothers knows they came up with many psychological insights out of their spiritual communities that were confirmed by studies in the 20th century.

The best spirituality is often psychological and the best psychology is often spiritual.