As Christian leaders, people often come to us in pain, confused, broken, addicted. They need help, counsel, freedom from sin. How do we discern the core of their need? How do we guide them to God?
One powerful question I've learned to ask is, "How is this person medicating his or her pain?"
Scott Peck began a best-selling book with a sentence only three words long: "Life is difficult." Life starts difficult, when we're forcibly pushed from the warm, soothing womb into the cold, glaring lights, then turned upside down and smacked. Life ends difficult, when we're struck down by cancer, emphysema, stroke, or old age. And every day in between has some degree of difficulty.
So very early on, we learn to soothe our pain. We cry till our momma comes and holds us. We suck our thumb or hide under the blankets. And then we discover more socially advanced ways of soothing our pain: getting a good grade, making somebody laugh, dressing up and getting a compliment.
And we also find chemical ways to soothe ...1