Jump directly to the Content

Ministrys Double Binds

A psychologist friend speaks often about "double binds"—two contradictory expectations placed on a person. Both expectations cannot be met; it's impossible.

When faced with a double bind, no matter what you do, you are inevitably wrong.

As a country singer might put it, "When you're wrong, you're wrong, and when you're right, you're wrong."

Pastoral ministry has more than its share of double binds. DBs can be hard to detect, because one (or sometimes both) of the contradictory expectations never gets spoken. You don't discover you were in an impossible situation until you fail.

As a rap singer might put it, "You don't find the bind till you've lost your mind."

Here, for example, is a list I started of Double Binds for Pastors (spoken from the viewpoint of churchgoers):

  • We want you to guide us and help us grow, but don't change anything substantial in the church because we like it the way it is.

  • You should have a model family, but we also want you to pick up when we call and be present at evening meetings

May/June
Support Our Work

Subscribe to CT for less than $4.25/month

Homepage Subscription Panel

Read These Next

Related
Strategies for Preaching to the Polarized
Strategies for Preaching to the Polarized
How can our sermons bridge the division of our contentious moment?
From the Magazine
I Cried Out to the Name Demons Fear Most
I Cried Out to the Name Demons Fear Most
How Jesus rescued a New Age psychic from spiritual darkness.
Editor's Pick
What Christians Miss When They Dismiss Imagination
What Christians Miss When They Dismiss Imagination
Understanding God and our world needs more than bare reason and experience.
close