A lot of what I write is due to a question. Yesterday someone asked me, “What have you written that explains how you respond to the addictive process?” I realized that I didn’t have anything that provided a simple overview of how we approach addiction.
Every person has a core driver. There is that something that they care about very deeply. There are secondary passions. Life events shape and reshape those inner drivers.
For the addict, something at a deep level has gone wrong. Something that could be very good has become very destructive. How do we identify what has gone wrong? How do we change it?
The simplest answer to that is the center of a person’s pain. We can only be hurt by what we care about. Pain points to places of deep caring. Deep caring points to the very purpose God has for a person. It is his gifting or his calling. When we do what God has called us to do in a way that impacts the world around us, we feel significant. We have value and meaning.
Our methodology for helping the addict is simple. Find the driver. Heal the wounds. Point the person to the place of his calling. And teach him the difference between doing the call of God in his own strength vs. walking it out in partnership with God.
The easiest starting point is generally identifying the person’s deep pain areas. Pain usually identifies “Who did it?” We think that if we can identify the “cause,” we can alleviate the hurt. A better question is “Why does it hurt?” The deepest pain will come because something in the person was violated. For some, deep pain looks like rejection. For others, it is abandonment or being taken for granted.
What hurts is not necessarily obvious. One time, I was working with a man who had been “abandoned” by a girl friend. I was trying to identify with the emotional pain he was feeling. After questioning him further, I realized that his pain was much more about his ego. It wasn’t that she left that hurt. It was that she left for a particular person. He took her choice of a particular person as a personal insult to his ego. “She made me look like a fool.” The pain had nothing to do with her leaving or him being alone. He was upset because his “reputation” had been hurt.
Why it hurts is very important. It helps us identify the driver of the pain. The driver points us to the passion and then to the purpose. The one who cared about reputation was a pride person. That would be the negative side of his personality. The positive side is that he is motivated by the opinions of others. If used right, that motivation would make him good at leading others. Because he cares about what others think, he would be careful with what he says and how he says it. People who are willing to adjust their responses to best impact others are good influencers.
A pride person does what he does to look good to people. A godly influencer does what he does to help others become whom God has designed them to become. Pride is a perversion of the purpose of a person meant to be a godly influencer.
Some struggle with bitterness. Bitterness happens when a person cares deeply about relationship and also about reputation. A person who struggles with bitterness want to be able to create harmony in his relationships, but still be an influencer. When the people around him reject his attempts to be this influencer and cut off relationship, the wound is deep because of what the person cares about.
For this person, I remind them that we cannot create any kind of response in another person. Every person responds according to his own heart. Our attempts to influence are just that. An attempt. The person’s response is his own. It is not caused by anything we can do or say. We may be a trigger, but that is the extent of our influence.
Every negative driver has within it a core value that is God created. The bitter person wants to create better relationships. The pride person wants to help others perform according to their potential. In the addict, the driver has become extremely toxic. The negative side has taken over in a way that leaves little hope for getting better.
This is our method. The hard part is to see from the wound to the driver. Then to the call of God. Next to the consistent response needed to move the person to health. Once that pathway is identified, it is mostly a matter of helping the person consistently respond in a way that he gets better.
Getting healthy generally boils down to one consistent response over a period of time. For some, that is to stop hiding behaviors. For others, that is to turn away from selfishness and to serve. There generally is one identifiable response that will be the key to life transformation.
For those interested, you can go to effectiveheartchange.com and look for the free download called “The Transforming Response” or follow this link or this download. It has a list of twenty one unhealthy drivers and the corresponding obedience needed to get free. There is hope when we take the steps to become the person God has called us to be!