Jump directly to the Content

What Aquinas Can Teach Us About Shepherding Sufferers

Theological insights on the nature of human emotion and how to interpret it.
Português
What Aquinas Can Teach Us About Shepherding Sufferers
Image: Illustration by Rick Szuecs / Source images: Lucas Sankey / Unsplash / Wikimedia commons

When I was ten, I remember my dad offering his hand to a man who resolutely put his hands behind his back. The man was a former member of our church who was angry at my father.

This uncomfortable scene taught me about what it means to be a pastor. I remember my dad explaining to us without bitterness why the man was angry. He did it in such a way that helped us see this man’s pain.

There is a common saying in psychology that behind anger there is fear, and we might add, behind fear there is pain. I observed in my dad a healthy capacity to reevaluate someone’s anger as pain. My dad didn’t take the man’s emotion as clearheaded judgment against himself. Instead, he chose a perspective that opened up the possibility of empathy.

In this cultural moment, we are engulfed by anger, fear, and pain—and pastors are no exception. Our calendars are filled with a steady stream of angry people. This is exhausting. It is all too easy for us to internalize their anger or to view ...

April
Support Our Work

Subscribe to CT for less than $4.25/month

Homepage Subscription Panel

Read These Next

Related
5 Ways Collaborative Sermon Writing Can Help Pastors
5 Ways Collaborative Sermon Writing Can Help Pastors
How a cross-cultural experiment with a half-dozen church leaders offered me a fresh perspective.
From the Magazine
Fractured Are the Peacemakers
Fractured Are the Peacemakers
A Christian reconciliation group in Israel and Palestine warned that war would come. Now the war threatens their relevance.
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