For the last keynote speaker at David C. Cook’s The Gathering, Tommy Larson did an interview with Dr. Gregg Jantz, author of over 22 books, including his latest release, “The Stranger in Your House“. Here are some of the questions and answers from the very interactive session.
Q: What happens when the line between pastoral care and professional help gets blurry?
A: As ministry leaders, we want to speak to their soul, or speak to their heart. We have to be careful not to create a co-dependency by excusing or enabling the behavior. We need to ask the Lord for discernment. Sometimes we have to say “this is bigger than what I can do for you”. You need to take the next step. They need to go somewhere and change their environment.
Q: I think the fear is so prevalent–especially for me as a pastor — to cower a little bit from needy people. On Saturdays, we’re here getting ready and sometimes we get knock after knock at the door — and there are homeless people. It’s hard to know what to do. I mean, you’re there, trying to get ready, trying to prep for service… Part of it is being concerned about the load you were already carrying and also being fearful about stepping into that mess. So we called someone else. What should we do?
A: There are God opportunities — that happens. Sometimes God brings people into our life for a reason. But that doesn’t mean we’re the ONLY ones who can help.
Q: So we should call you.
A: (Laughs) Did you want my number?
Q: So, how do we asses that? When it’s our role and when is it more?
A: Look for a pattern. Am I doing the same thing over and over again? And what does this person really need? Pray about that. Perhaps I can be the facilitator to get them help, but it doesn’t always have to be my primary responsibility.
These are the biggest issues: anger, fear (anxiety), and guilt. Watch how these things are manifested. And watch how you are reacting when you are with this person. Do you feel those same things when you’re with them? And where is that coming from?
Q: As you look at the different issues, what are the biggest issues facing families right now?
A: Eating disorders in the younger ages (11,12,13)… early sexualization makes girls grow up faster…depression (20% of teenagers have true depression)…suicide is the #1 cause of death in teens.
Q: Is there a central theme somewhere?
A: Forgiveness… everyone we work with has to come that point where they need to either forgive an abuser or forgive a situation and then eventually they need to forgive themselves.
Q: What happens when people try to conquer these things outside of Christ?
A: People end up feeling like no one loves them, even God. They get such a self-hatred and then they end up being self-destructed. The enemy really gets ahold of that and tries to strip people of hope.
Q: You saw the video, about taking VBS outside the walls of the church — how can we prepare ourselves for that? To deal with some of those deep-seeded sin issues? What are some resources?
A: Well, I’ve written a few good books! I used to have the “yes disease”… I would see people all week, all day…people and people and more people, and I ended up having a huge crash… and I wasn’t practicing good self-care. We need to have a plan for that in place
Q: Tell us about your new book, “The Stranger in Your House“.
A: This is a lot of the things I learned while raising my own kids. I have a 9 year old and 13 year old. I made all the technology mistakes. One day, I was doing a TV segment about technology, so I thought it’d be fun for all of us to gater up the devices with screens and take them to the set. Between the three of us, we had 18 screen devices! That’s not good. When my boys were texting at the dinner table, I knew I had a problem. There’s actually some research that says if we overstimulate the young brain with technology, it can lead to “an addiction brain”. So, parents need to be careful about the amount of “screen time” your kids are getting. It can lead to more than just anti-social behavior.
The book also covers some of the changes that adolescence kids are going through, from the hormones to the social aspect. Depression is huge, we already covered that, and a depressed teenager is an unpredictable teenager. We need to make sure that we set up boundaries to keep these kids safe. Sure, they are going to test those boundaries — it’s like their job! But we still need to be vigilant about the technology we allow in our home.
Q: It’s funny — we used to have phones, computers, paper to write letters on, but now… we hold all these things in our pocket. It’s funny how this little thing (holds up his smart phone) can become so addictive. I really feel like sometimes I can’t live without it.
A: Oh yeah, we see that a lot at my center. When people go into rehab, we have to take people’s screens and lock them up. People have to go through technology detox….it’s almost astonishing how much we get attached to technology. They get jittery, irritable– all the signs of withdrawal.
QUESTIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE
Q: What did you do with your sons when you found about about the 18 screens?
A:Well, we take away screens during the week. No cell phone at school… not all week, but he can have it on the weekend. Of course, there are passwords on everything. We talk about appropriate texting and online reputation. No texting in the morning… b/c it could ruin someone’s whole day… with the Xbox… I have to keep looking at the games … now the biggest challenge is now going to other people’s homes and keeping the rules when we’re outside the house.
Q: I bet the job is really tough. How do you not take it bed with you or take it home with you?
A: I remember one case we had. This girl was six years old. She the youngest anorexic ever recorded. Her parents simply could not get her to eat. She had been through no trauma, she was an cute little girl. They just didn’t know what was wrong. Previously, (at other centers) staff had restrained her and forced food into her mouth, but still, it wasn’t making a difference. We were at a complete loss.
The Lord really taught be a lesson when I was dealing with this case. I was so worried about this little girl! What if she died on our watch. I would wake up at night in a cold sweat, just thinking about her and worrying about her. One day, I was driving home from the store or something and I saw a sign that said “Free Kittens”. I just felt the Holy Spirit telling me to stop and get one of those kittens. I went in and asked the man if there was a runt of the litter. He replied, “Sure, but she’s probably going to die.” I exclaimed, “Yep, that’s the one I want!” I thought if I could show her..the importance of food, maybe that would help.
I brought the kitten in to this little girl and I said, “Now, you’re job is to keep this kitten alive.” We thought she was going to wear the fur off this kitten! She pet it all day long. Then one day, she asked for food. The nurse ran out and said, “I don’t know what to do! She’s asking for food!” We told her to ask the little girl what she wanted, and upon request, Pop-Tarts were brought in. Come to find out, the little girl’s body was not producing Human Growth Hormone and the touch of the kitten released that hormone. She simply wasn’t hungry because her body wasn’t growing.
I learned that day to let God do his work. No problem is too big for him. No puzzle is too confounding. He knows all, and he knows how to make things right. Sometimes we need to let go and let God.
Read the Other Bloggers Take on this Session: