On the show today we are celebrating 10,000 downloads!
I can hardly believe it! I’m so honored to have connected with you and walked with you as you support those in your church.
I love sharing my lessons learned as a social worker and care coordinator at a local church and having guests on the show. This show is all about learning and being equipped with tools and resources to care for others.
And as we cater to others, we can‘t ignore caring for ourselves because if we neglect ourselves for the cause we are going to burn out.
Today’s episode is a highlight of two of the top four episodes and looking back it’s no surprise to me to discover who were the top views guest sessions.
They are episodes focused on trauma with Kobe Campbell and Sangoon Yoo.
These are two guests who speak from a seat of lived experience as well as clinical expertise and both experienced trauma which fueled a passion to help others.
WHAT IS TRAUMA?
Before I share some of the amazing wisdom learned from these two let me briefly talk about what trauma is.
Trauma is the lasting emotional response that often results from living through a distressing event.
Experiencing a traumatic event isn’t only big life-altering moment of tragedy, but is an experience that makes someone feel unsafe or vulnerable.
Moving forward these experiences harm a person’s sense of safety, sense of self, and ability to regulate emotions and navigate relationships.
Essentially, trauma is any situation in which you feel unsafe and can have lasting impacts on how you see the world and how you view yourself.
I recognize that this is a very simplistic view of trauma and there are whole multi-course programs in trauma but simplifying takes away the stigma of us versus them.
With this simple definition, I pulled from the Canadian Center for Addiction and Mental Health, we can see that most of us have likely experienced some form of trauma.
Trauma isn’t something that is only experienced by veterans, or those who went through natural disasters or abuses. We’ve all experienced trauma and are susceptible to impacts.
However, trauma does not impact us all in the same manner and not all people react to the same trauma the same. For instance, two people can be part of the same event, one could experience PTSD and the other minimal disruption to their well-being.
This is where we can dive into the clinical work of trauma and learn about causes and treatment but for the everyday person, we tend to want to measure and qualify suffering.
As helpers and caregivers, we tend to do this to ourselves, saying we shouldn’t be exhausted because we didn’t experience severe hardships like those we are supporting or we minimize our impacts of trauma compared to those we are supporting.
We may also judge someone’s response to a situation based on how severe we determine the situation to be and think they shouldn’t have that reaction because what happened to them wasn’t that bad.
But that’s not how trauma works, each person is different and each response is different, and in every response as Christians, we are to respond as Jesus did to those who have experienced trauma.
THE SIMILARITY BETWEEN SCIENTIFIC INFORMED TRAUMA AND CHRISTIANITY
Jesus’s response just so happens to mirror what research has suggested being best practice.
Sangoon explains this so well in Episode 23. He said trauma-informed care is welcoming and references the story of the adulterous woman in John 8:1-11.
Jesus provided safety to the adulterous woman rather than condemning her and this allowed the crowd that had gathered to bring judgment on her to disappear.
This regulate and relate method that Jesus used is highly supported by scientifically informed traumatic care.
It’s amazing how often what research determines to be best practice is a principle or practice that is found in the Bible and Jesus’ ministry.
HOW CAN THE CHURCH SUPPORT VICTIMS OF TRAUMA
Sanghoon identifies that the church can offer care that follows these principles. The church can create safe places for people and offer healing while being careful to not retraumatize by first creating a calm safe space for people, building trust through relationships, and then supporting people with love, grace, and truth.
I think this is a desire for every pastor, To create spaces for people to find Jesus and have their wounds healed and then to walk with them as they discover their calling and grow in their faith.
And that is what a trauma-informed church looks like.
HOW TRAUMA-INFORMED LEADERSHIP CAN TRANSFORM THE CHURCH
In episode 13, Kobe Campbell discusses how trauma-informed leadership can transform the church.
She identified that pastors are placed in a position of authority and power, and often are looked to for advice and support but regardless of their position, unresolved trauma can impact a leader’s decisions making and ability to lead.
Kobe references King David’s story and how he committed the sin of murder to acquire intimacy. She states that his lack of intimacy while growing up led up to his sin.
In his book, The Body Keeps Score, Bessel Van Der Kolk describes how trauma is not only an emotional experience, but it is also a physical one. Trauma changes how the mind and brain perceive the world around us.
Dr. Caroline Leaf describes neuroplasticity as the brain’s ability to change and be rewired based on our experiences and this is what Kobe describes in her retelling of the story of David and Bathsheba from the lens of a trauma counselor.
As leaders, our experiences of trauma in our past can physically change how we think and see the world, therefore, impacting our decisions and leadership.
However, if our brains can change because of traumatic experiences, they can also change and be healed because of our experiences.
So this does not mean that you are disqualified as a leader because of trauma, but it does mean that you may need to do the hard work of looking introspectively and dealing with your stuff like that baggage that we keep ignoring?
God is so incredibly graceful. He still describes David as a man after his heart.
Yet again, another example of how we can support others.
“God can have mercy for the things that lead us to sin and still hold us accountable for sin.” We can model this in our leadership by seeing people first, not the problem first.
Kobe says churches should grab a leaf from God’s tenderness and understand what led someone to a particular situation rather than offering judgment first.
As a leader, we are often consulted for advice and support and if we approach the situation as being a fixer we tend to be focused on looking for a problem and blame is often placed on the person looking for support.
Words of shame are said over them. Things like you need to pray more, you must have doubt or sin in your life, and you need to search for yourself and surrender to God.
Yet these words cause more wounds.
HOW TO SUPPORT SOMEONE WHO IS MAKING POOR/SINFUL CHOICES
The question has come up with some people about how do we support someone who is making poor or even sinful choices?
And I think that the story of David is a great example, in that God offers mercy for the things that lead us to sin and still holds us accountable for sin.”
As Christians, we can do both as well. We can offer mercy for the trauma that has led people to sin and remain compassionately engaged as they walk through the natural consequences.
TOP SOLO EPISODES
Along with these two top guest episodes on trauma, there are two top solo episodes that are all about practical support.
Episode 24, How to de-escalate a mental health crisis is a great episode that came from a question in the Church Mental Health Facebook group.
In this episode, I outline the 4 steps of crisis de-escalation and what’s happening in the brain as people experience stress.
I’ve adopted the term flipping your lid from researcher Dan Siegle and once you learn it, you will begin to see it everywhere.
This is a simplified explanation that I borrow to describe what happens in the brain when people experience stress. It’s a simple way to learn about what happens when we feel emotionally and physically threatened.
Now the interesting thing about this brain response to stress and threats is that our bodies can’t determine if it’s a real or imagined threat.
For instance, am I being chased by a dog, or am I imagining someone gossiping about me? One is real and another one is imagined, but the threat is felt and our brain and body react the same.
As a supporter, you are going to see this everywhere when people are escalating and having a mental health crisis like I was addressing in episode 23 or in your with your staff and volunteers when they are feeling overwhelmed.
You will see the build-up of stress and then people can flip their lid. But when we can better understand the design of our bodies we have more compassion and we approach the situation with empathy rather than shame.
As a social worker, I love practical tools and strategies that you can use in your next conversation so I try to offer these as much as I can on the podcast and in my consulting work with churches
These are templates, pathways, examples,trainings and how-to’s. It’s great to have information on what to do but it’s hard to find information on how to do it.
One of the most listened-to episodes is Episode 18, Three pillars of care ministry.
So often care ministry is an afterthought of the church and I get it, the church is focused on two primary areas outreach and a great Sunday experience.
However, I believe the church is uniquely placed in our neighborhoods to be a hub of care.
In my 15 years of counseling and case management work every person whether they were a CEO or struggling with homelessness, and mental health has three core needs.
These are core needs we have and while many community organizations can help support these, the church has a unique ability to infuse these three pillars into every aspect of its engagement with people
HOW THE CHURCH CAN OFFER BELONGING, PURPOSE AND HOPE
The church can do this by shifting from having programs of care to having a culture of care.
Care isn’t just the casseroles delivered after a death or new baby. Care is the eye contact made with greeters, it’s the follow-up conversations from last week with the ushers, it’s the encouragement offered by fellow volunteers, it’s the compassion and hope offered by the prayer team, and the messages of hope and purpose from the stage.
Care happens at every intersection of church ministry.
Once again, thank you friend for investing time and energy into caring for others and building your church’s care ministry. I truly believe that communities can be transformed through care.
Thank you to Kobe and Sanghoon and all the guests so far. They have shared generously their wisdom and resources and I’m excited to introduce you to many more.
CONNECT WITH HOPE MADE STRONG
Join the Church Mental Health Facebook Group! In the Facebook group, we chat about how to care for others, what are your challenges as well as share tons of resources. This is a great community of pastors, clinicians, and those with lived experience and we want to get to know you.