Shepherd’s Care: The “Downward Spiral” (1)

Being part of a loss-prone vocation puts us on what Hart called “the downward spiral.”  We must spend time looking carefully at what this is.

Generally speaking it is the degenerative experience (physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, social) that occurs when we violate the pace of grace and do nothing to correct the problem.

The great mistake is to go into either secrecy or denial.  This only pushes the reality that’s getting the best of us out of sight—perhaps even to ourselves.  This is one reason why clergy “falls” often come as surprising news.  No one knew, because the person in crisis was not sending any signals.

The “downward spiral” is the accelerating experience in trying to be the master of your own fate and the captain of your own soul.  It is the refusal to seek outside help, whether it be from others or from God.  As we will see, it ends in a bad place.

But it does not have to be that way.  At every level, the Holy Spirit is at work (often through comments spouses and friends are making to us), and when we allow ourselves to confess our need and become congruent with tried-and-true remedies, we can find that God transforms us through a restorative reversal.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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