DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

A Balanced Mind

Written by: on May 23, 2018

++Balance

In reading the Righteous Mind, there were several quotes that spoke about the impact of developing a balanced mind, that would contribute to living a peaceful life.

“Empathy is an antidote to righteousness, although it’s very difficult to empathize across a moral divide.”[1]The big divide we are experiencing in the church today is the division of beliefs over the LGBTQ community. What to do with them…are they morally corrupt sinners that need to be shunned? Are they to be accepted but not included? Are they to be invited for the purpose of correcting? Are they to be ignored? When we take the moral divide out, act out empathy and ask ourselves how we would want to be treated in the body of Christ, the decision becomes easier- be accepting and inclusive regardless of how we feel morally about their life choices. It is the moral divide that creates a moral dilemma as we lose empathy to how it feels to be a minority people group.

“…When moral reasoning is not accompanied by moral intuition, the results are ugly.”[2]This is where we see another class of pseudo-humans: psychopaths. They are able to reason but are not able to be morally intuitive as to what is appropriate or acceptable behavior. ” They feel no compassion, guilt, shame, or even embarrassment, which makes it easy for them to lie, and to hurt family, friends, and animals.”[3]In my therapy work, I met a psychopath in my waiting room. He wasn’t even my client but was seeing my colleague for therapy. As I was leaving for the night, I dropped my pen and he crossed the waiting room to retrieve it but did it in such a controlling and uncomfortable manner, it literally sent chills up my spine. He was able to do the morally right thing by picking up a pen for a woman but the moral intuition in which he did it was invasive and downright creepy. I was so uncomfortable leaving my colleague alone with him, I alerted her to the moral intuition I was feeling about him. She validated my apprehension by confirming his psychopath diagnosis and assured me she had taken precautionary measures to keep herself safe. Since therapy requires insight and healthy emotions, psychopaths are usually therapeutic resistant in traditional therapy and require other forms of treatment. They are categorized by “their indifference to others”[4]and their sufferings, which sounds disturbingly like the American church in regards to the plights of slavery not so many years ago.

“Egalitarian relationships…invite role taking, but hierarchical relationships…do not.”[5]When I was a middle-school teacher, one of my greatest pleasures was seeing a child take a leadership role in the class. I thoroughly enjoyed assigning leadership positions to the students and observing how they developed their roles to fit their leadership styles. As a high school youth group leader, I believed in developing leaders at any age and enjoyed relating to kids even more as their equal instead of their teacher. Now that my kids are adults, I am thrilled to relate to them as friends and adults, instead of the corrective parent. The more authoritative I was as a teacher, youth leader, and parent, the more it stifled their leadership roles, humor, and creative expression. As a therapist, I enjoy relating to the youth I work with as equals, without having to parent, teach or correct. Egalitarianism releases us to relate to others versus having to control and manage them. It’s a freeing belief system for me to experience peaceful living.

“Emotions are not dumb… Emotions are a kind of information processing.”[6]Experts report that women are 7 times more likely to sense danger than a man. They can read non-verbals with more accuracy and often rely on their intuition to make decisions. When a woman in therapy senses something is not right in her marriage or home, most of the time it isn’t. One woman upon discovering her husband had an affair, felt concerned like many, whether he had sex with the other woman in their house. Upon questioning him, he repeatedly denied it. At the session, she asked him again, and again he denied it. She continued to feel uneasy so he was encouraged to tell the truth to alleviate her emotional discomfort by providing the truth. He argued that he didn’t want to give her any more pain but was unaware that withholding his truth was actually providing more pain since she felt something was amiss. After some deliberation, he confessed to doing the deed at their home which brought sorrow mixed with relief for his wife as her emotional discomfort was alleviated. Emotions are here to guide us, and God has created them to help us make informed, educated decisions, and to let us know when something is wrong. To have a peaceful life, one needs to have a healthy connection between the head and the heart. Excluding them by continually self-medicating or ignoring them can have disastrous effects on the body and denying their presence can provoke a chaotic emotional existence.

Living with peace and balance is unique to each individual, but we are all similar in one accord: we are all in need of love. This is the greatest gift we can give to each other, ourselves, and to God as we work at being more loving and maybe a little less at being righteous.

 

[1]Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, (New York: NY, Pantheon Books, 2012), 58, Kindle.

[2]Ibid., 75-76, Kindle.

[3]Ibid., 72, Kindle.

[4]Ibid., 367, Kindle.

[5]Ibid., 9-10, Kindle.

[6]Ibid., 52-53, Kindle.

 

About the Author

mm

Jennifer Dean-Hill

12 responses to “A Balanced Mind”

  1. Lynda Gittens says:

    Jen,
    I love your view on the Egalitarian relationships and Emotions are a kind of information processing. I am always inspired by your writings.
    I see that you were able to address you dissertation thesis within this post.
    So can we say, a woman president would be an effective president for the country?

  2. mm Katy Drage Lines says:

    Jennifer, your narrative voice does an excellent job of drawing us both into the highlighted points of the text, and into your personal work and ministry. I appreciated your take on egalitarian relationships inviting role playing, empathy, and emerging leadership. More reasons to prefer those relationships rather than hierarchical ones, whether in marriages or the church. Well said.

  3. Mary Walker says:

    “Egalitarian relationships…invite role taking, but hierarchical relationships…do not.”
    Jennifer, that jumped out at me too, but I chose to go a different route with my post. I’m so glad you addressed it. It has everything to do with your other insights – no empathy by the ones “in charge”, the feeling that I’m always right, (psychopaths), and “women’s intuition”. When men feel like they have to limit women in their roles they are really missing out!!

    • mm Jennifer Dean-Hill says:

      Yep, you got it Mary. Developing empathy is key to good mental, emotional, and spiritual health. The hard part is developing empathy for the non-empathic individuals.

  4. Christal Jenkins Tanks says:

    Jen wow! I enjoyed how you broke down some deep points made in the text by using personal narratives. It is true that our intuition as a first response can be positive and not negative. It is a blessing and can also be something that can hinder our ability to see truth due to our moral blindness. Thank you for sharing your truths with us 🙂

  5. Jenn,
    Lot’s of great insights.

    You said: Since therapy requires insight and healthy emotions, psychopaths are usually therapeutic resistant in traditional therapy and require other forms of treatment. They are categorized by “their indifference to others”[4]and their sufferings, which sounds disturbingly like the American church in regards to the plights of slavery not so many years ago.’

    Or like the American church in response (or lack of response) to immigrants being called and treated as animals. The beloved children of God being forcibly separated from there biological families while we sit by and justify our inaction because of ‘security concerns’, all while most of us live lives that are literally more safe and secure than any people that have ever lived.

    In my blog I talked about ‘Randian Christianity’ as a problem, but I think you have lit upon something with your ‘psychopathic Christianity’. Obviously an oxymoron and a telling one at that. But, sadly, maybe an apt description for many of us.

    • mm Jennifer Dean-Hill says:

      Yes, Chip. Excellent points about our apathy to the sufferings of others. I could go on in my post, so I’m glad you did. Psychopathic Christianity… I like it. Sounds like the makings of a great book.

    • Kristin Hamilton says:

      I saw this after I responded to Jen, Chip, but we seem to be asking the same questions. Psychopathic Christianity…what the hell?!

  6. Kristin Hamilton says:

    “They are categorized by “their indifference to others”[4]and their sufferings, which sounds disturbingly like the American church in regards to the plights of slavery not so many years ago.”
    I kept coming back to this sentence, Jen. This week I made the mistake of reading a lot of Tweets about the immigrant children taken from their parents and (worse) lost by HHS or handed over to human traffickers. I was shocked by the apathy so many showed. “If they hadn’t brought their children here illegally this wouldn’t have happened.” No compassion, no empathy, just a whole lotta self-righteousness. A quick look at some of the profiles sickened me as so many had “Christian” or “Jesus follower” or even “pastor” in their bios! What on earth is happening? Is the hive mentality of nationalism now so strong that we have become indifferent to the suffering of children?

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