Category Archives: Uncategorized

Administrative Assistant/Receptionist

The Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center is seeking an administrative assistant/receptionist to join our team. The ideal candidate is reliable, well organized, able to multi-task and pay close attention to detail. Responsibilities include handling front office reception and administrative duties including, but not limited to, greeting guests, checking clients in and out, answering telephones, scheduling appointments, data entry and sorting mail.

Experience and educational requirements: The ideal candidate will have a high school education, two or more years of office experience, advanced telephone and computer skills including email, internet and MS Office. Preference will be given to applicants with scheduling and front desk experience, such as in a medical office. Knowledge of insurance company practices such as deductible, co-ins, authorizations is a plus. Experience with Salesforce a plus. Bilingual skills a plus.

Benefits: Competitive hourly wage, individual health insurance, and paid holiday, vacation, and sick leave. Collegial working environment. Training provided.

Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center is a nonprofit, nonsectarian organization offering a broad range of mental health services, serving 4,000 individuals annually including 700 children. Although best known for its 49 years of quality, professional mental health therapy, the Center provides multi-faceted services, programs and classes:

  • Counseling, including specialized services for children and adolescents
  • Psychological testing and assessment
  • Psychiatric consultation and care
  • Training for clinical professionals
  • Leadership and spiritual life programming
  • Conflict transformation and strategic planning services for congregations, nonprofits and businesses

Please send a letter of interest and resume to: Penny Heiss, Office Manager, Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center, 8553 Urbandale Ave., Urbandale, IA 50322, or email pheiss@dmpcc.org.

For more information about the Center, click here.

Adult and Family Therapist

The Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center, a well-established nonprofit organization, is seeking a full-time licensed counselor to join our team of multi-disciplinary clinicians, who are committed to a mind/body/spirit therapeutic approach. We are seeking a licensed psychologist, social worker, mental health counselor, or marriage and family counselor, experienced in working with adults, couples and families. Computer proficiency is required.

Please send a letter of interest and resume to:
Kelli Hill, Ph.D., Director of Clinical Services, Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center, 8553 Urbandale Ave., Urbandale, IA 50322, or email khill@dmpcc.org.

For more information about the Center, click here.

Psychiatry

The Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center, a well-established nonprofit organization, is seeking a psychiatrist, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner to join our team of multi-disciplinary clinicians who are committed to a mind/body/spirit therapeutic approach. The mission of the Center is to bring understanding, hope and healing to people of all ages through counseling and education. We are seeking a psychiatrist, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner to provide general psychiatry care to patients of all ages including children, adolescents, adults and elders. The Center offers work-life balance including flexible hours and schedule with no call and no weekends. Seeking an organized, self – directed individual who understands and embraces our Center’s mission and values participation in our collaborative care approach.

Please send a letter of interest and vita to Kelli Hill, Ph.D., Director of Clinical Services, Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center 8553 Urbandale Avenue, Urbandale, IA 50322 or email khill@dmpcc.org.

The Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center is a nonprofit, nonsectarian organization offering a broad range of mental health services, serving more than 4,000 individuals in annually, including 645 children plus their families. The Center’s team of 30 multidisciplinary clinicians provide a variety of key services including:

• Counseling, including specialized services for children and adolescents
• Psychiatry (medication management)
• Psychological testing and assessment
• Clinical Training
• Community Education such as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
• Holistic approaches
• Spiritual direction
• Leadership and spiritual life programming

For more information about the Center, click here

Insurance Coordinator

The Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center is seeking an Insurance Coordinator to be responsible for processing insurance claims and related accounts receivable activities. The qualified candidate must be experienced in medical/mental health billing, have extensive knowledge of insurance company practices and coding rules, be dependable, self-motivated and detail orientated. The primary duties of this position are to resolve denials, work rejections, and obtain benefits. There will be other duties assigned as needed. Only applicants with insurance experience will be contacted. Please send a cover letter along with your resume.

Responsibilities

  • Verify client’s insurance coverage and obtain appropriate benefits for services.
  • Work closely with third party payers to resolve denials, rejections and keep outstanding claims to a minimum.
  • Process insurance claims.
  • Assist clients with any billing/ insurance questions or accounts receivable balances.
  • Daily posting of client/ insurance payments.
  • Various other duties as needed.

Requirements

  • High school education, with some college preferred.
  • 2+ years of experience with medical insurance billing, ICD-10, CPT coding.
  • Advanced computer skills. Knowledge of Microsoft office.

Benefits: Competitive hourly wage at $15.00-$17.00 per hour, individual health insurance, and paid holiday, vacation, and sick leave. Collegial working environment. Training provided. Job Type: Full-time

Please send a letter of interest and resume to: Penny Heiss, Office Manager, Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center, 8553 Urbandale Ave., Urbandale, IA 50322, or email pheiss@dmpcc.org.

For more information about the Center, click here.

Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center is a nonprofit, nonsectarian organization offering a broad range of mental health services, serving more than 4,000 individuals annually including 700 children. Although best known for its 48 years of quality, professional mental health therapy, the Center provides multi-faceted services, programs and classes through 30 multi-disciplinary clinicians. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Center has implemented a robust telehealth service delivery system. Key services include:

  • Counseling, including specialized services for children and adolescents
  • Psychological testing and assessment
  • Psychiatric consultation and care (medication management)
  • Spiritual Direction
  • Training for clinical professionals
  • Leadership and spiritual life programming
  • Career Counseling

COVID-19 Precaution(s):

  • Remote interview process
  • Personal protective equipment provided or required
  • Temperature screenings
  • Social distancing guidelines in place
  • Virtual meetings
  • Sanitizing, disinfecting, or cleaning procedures in place

Billie’s Blog – May 2021

Getting the Hang of Hair, Part 2

by Billie Wade, guest blogger

Read “Getting the Hang of Hair, Part 1” here

(May 2021) — The hair of Black people is malleable into an endless array of styles. So, we have the flexibility of sculpting our hair to fit our mood, a special occasion, a particular outfit, or for easy care. Hairstyling is an art form that plays a significant role in the identity and self-expression of Black people. Our hair shows our pride in our race and our zest for life. Black hairstyles are limited only by the imagination and creativity of the wearer or the wearer’s stylist. Black Americans spend upward of two and a half billion dollars—according to an August 2018 article by CNBC—to color, bleach, cut, grow, curl, straighten, shampoo, condition, tame, let loose, and arrange our hair.

Black-hair biases and prejudice are very real, as we saw last month, in “Getting the Hang of Hair: Part 1.” In slave times White women whacked off the hair of their Black female servants because it White men became “confused” about which women were free. Our hair and how we manage and care for it is suspect as dirty, unkempt, distracting, faddish, and audacious—and a source of pride of which we are to be denied.

I previously wore my hair dyed a deep auburn, in short spikes. None of my White coworkers said a word. When I returned to hot-comb-straightened hair, they profusely complimented my new style. Apparently, they did not like the spikes coming out of the natural base. On one occasion, my stylist did not have the color I wanted, so she used a substitute—which she swore would “look really cute” on me. What a hideous result! The only comment came from a White coworker who said, with all the earnestness she could muster, “Billie, your hair is purple.” My White coworkers deemed my hair acceptable when I conformed to their expectations.

I have worn my hair short and natural for the past twenty-one years after numerous failed attempts to find suitable styles and stylists. Ironically, my hair stylist of the past twenty-one years is White. An instructor asked her beauty school class, “Who wants to learn how to cut Black hair?” She raised her hand. She always confers with me before cutting and follows my directions. I tip her very well.

Black women are implored, to conform to White dictates, so we have tried everything to create “hair that moves.” Braids, dreadlocks—aka dreads—weaves, extensions, and “cold” perms allow Black people to experience hair that moves in a befitting style. Since the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties and seventies, Black people have become freer and more expressive with our hairstyles. As we saw last month we are routinely punished for our insolence.

Even Black people debate about hairstyles, especially those who support assimilation. They believe we must do everything we can to conform to White demands and standards. From my vantage point, this approach does not work. Emulation attempts are doomed self-attacks on one’s intrinsic humanity. No matter what we do to our hair, our skin color remains under assault. Other Black people defend the liberation of the full range of articulation of who we are collectively and individually.

White people scrutinize Black people for evidence of the tiniest violation of whatever rule they are “interpreting” at the moment, any signs of behavior which does not please them, which is often. They set us up to fail by creating lose-lose circumstances. The underlying intentionality of control and annihilation is based in unfounded hatred that results in the myriad tendrils of racism. We are a proud, quiet, gentle people but not according to the stereotypes. We have never asked for more than equal opportunity.

I, along with other people, long for the day when all people are free to live and to be and to showcase their hair.

*

For more blog posts by Billie Wade: www.dmpcc.org/Billie

5/5/21 Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month

James E. Hayes, D. Min., M. Div., Executive Director, Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center

I want to take advantage of the calendar to remind us all that May is National Mental Health Awareness month. If you’re not aware of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), I encourage you to subscribe to their newsletter. NAMI Iowa does a great job of keeping us all up to date on mental health issues. Here are some suggestions they make to keep mental health front of mind during May:

https://nami.org/Get-Involved/Awareness-Events/Mental-Health-Awareness-Month 

While mental health is important every day, take some time to reflect and grow this Mental Health Month. In May, we encourage you to push yourself. Learn something new about mental health. Share your experiences with loved ones. Take the leap into getting help. Support someone you know is in need.

The Center’s 23rd annual Women Helping Women event is an opportunity to recognize the special month while also making it possible for those who are underinsured to have access to mental health services. The Center is pleased to honor and celebrate Angela Connolly who has done so much for our community and mental health awareness — and feature keynote speaker Tiffany Johnson who calls our community to greater understanding through theater. Please join us! 

Other suggestions include:

MAY 20 | Wear Green for Mental Health: Dust off your St. Patrick’s Day green as we join our friends at Make It OK Iowa in wearing green. Green is the official color for mental-health awareness, so don’t forget to go green May 20th!

Share your favorite photos on social media using the hashtags #MakeItOk and #Iamstigmafree 

I appreciate all the suggestions offered by NAMI and others to help us work together on our mental wellness. I wonder what other opportunities we might find in order to spark conversations around mental health. I find that when I meet people and they ask what I do, it almost always leads to conversations about mental health. Surprise, huh?  That says to me that all of us have work to do when it comes to our mental wellness—our own, that of our families, and even of strangers who might be looking for an opening in conversation to talk.

I’d like to challenge all of us to consider how we might bring up the subject in the coming weeks. Here’s an option to consider: When in a regular conversation with someone, mention that you just read something about it being mental health awareness month. You could even tell them you read this blog! Then you could float an inviting question to see if it goes anywhere. Example, “It seems to me that stigma seems to be improving and more people are willing to talk about their mental health or that seeing a counselor seems as normal as going to your doctor. Does it seem that way to you?”

Awareness is an important step when it comes to seeking help. I hope you’ll join us in this effort to increase awareness of the Center in the month of May and beyond. We are here to walk with people on the path to hope and healing. Thanks for all you do to make this mission possible.

To read more of Jim’s blogs, click HERE

Chris’ blog – April 2021

What is faith?

by Chris Waddle, Director of Leadership and Spiritual Life

April 2021 — What is faith? I have heard faith described as “believing things you don’t really believe.” I’ve also heard faith defined as “believing things you cannot ultimately prove.” I like the latter better than the former. Still, it misses a bit of the point of faith to me. It seems to me faith is not primarily about believing beliefs. Beliefs matter. By this I mean core beliefs. Beliefs that relate to ultimate meeting and our relationships with God, creation, each other, and our selves. Still, faith is more than belief — it is about actions. It is about investing ourselves, being vulnerable, and taking risks. Faith is not a passive act of believing beliefs but a courageous act of risking ourselves based on those beliefs.

One day, when I was a pastor, I was visiting someone in his office. He was a collector of antiques and he invited me to sit down on this flimsy looking antique chair. I was honestly not sure whether or not it would support my weight. I considered just hovering over it and not putting my full weight on the chair. However, that was impossible since the chair had no arms, and I did not want to spend the whole meeting looking like I was sitting on the toilet. So I took a leap of faith and sat down. Thankfully, the chair did support me. This story is both an example of simple faith and a metaphor for all acts of faith.

Sitting on ancient chairs is easy compared with other leaps of faith in my life. One of the biggest leaps of faith that I ever made felt more to me like an abandonment of faith at the time. It came right on time. I was in my first year of college when another campus ministry invited our campus ministry to participate in a discussion about creation and evolution. We agreed to a discussion. However, what they had planned was more of a lecture.

I can sum up the whole presentation in three sentences:

  • The Genesis creation story is scientifically accurate and historically true.
  • If you believe in evolutionary theory you cannot be a Christian.
  • We have biblically accurate dinosaur coloring books for sale at the table in the back.

I remember thinking to myself, “This is not science! This is The Flintstones! If this is where taking the Bible seriously is going to lead me, then I cannot be a Christian! Wait a minute! Why should I believe ANYTHING anyone taught me in church?”

I began questioning everything I had ever believed about God, Jesus, and my United Methodist Christian tradition. I also questioned every religious experience I’d ever had. I believed it was entirely possible, and most likely probable, that my religious experiences were just a combination of wishful thinking and emotion.

It was a gut wrenching experience. However, I was determined that I was not going to trust the full weight of my life on anything that could not stand up to my most rigorous questions. Just like that antique chair, I figured my Christian tradition, rooted in an unscientific world-view would crumble beneath the weight of my reason and I did not know where that would leave me. My whole world view and my most significant relationships were rooted in my church culture. However, I wanted to know the truth, even if it meant discarding my whole belief system.

Since this leap of faith, I have let go of some beliefs. Other beliefs I hold more loosely. Still, most of my core beliefs remain and I can tell you why I hold them and why I believe them to be rational and compelling. However, the truth that I found was not quite the truth I was seeking.

The truth I was seeking was a knock down drag out argument for the existence of God, the divinity of Jesus, and the loving, forgiving nature of God. What I discovered was that faith, by its very definition, can never have the kind of lock-down drag-out kind of proof I wanted. However, most of what makes life good and meaningful is a matter of faith and not ultimately testable and provable. I began to see that there is no life without faith even If I did let go of my belief in God. I also learned that the core beliefs of my United Methodist Christian tradition actually did take seriously the integration of science, reason, and experience. In taking the leap of faith to challenge my tradition I discovered an intellectual rigor to my tradition that I did not know was there. It welcomed and was even able to engage my most challenging questions. This allowed me to be more open to the possibility that my spiritual experiences were more than just wishful thinking and emotion. Of course, they could be. But that is the nature of faith and I am ok with that now.

I hesitate to say this because it seems that when I feel at peace with my beliefs is also when I have an experience that challenges me to grow once more. Still, there is a difference in me now. I just don’t get as worked up about it as I once did. I now have more perspective and, I dare say even faith, in the midst of my doubt. I’m not sure I even understand what I mean when I say this. However, let me share how I have experienced it.

I remember one morning, while in seminary, thinking to myself. “I’m not sure I really believe in God today.” Then I chuckled when I sensed God saying to me. “That’s OK Chris, I still believe in you.” and I went on with my day as usual. My freshman college “me” would not have found this compelling at all. . . but it is so very compelling to me now.

Back to my original point. Core beliefs matter but they are not the same as faith. Faith happens when I invest in and risk are when I am vulnerable based on my core beliefs. Faith is not a noun, it is a verb. Faith is not something we have. Faith is something we do, exercise, and practice. It always involves risk and it always involves vulnerability.

Dr. Brené Brown is an expert on courage and vulnerability. She is very quick to correct people when they say “I understand what you are saying, if I am vulnerable and live courageously, I might fail.”

“No,” she says, “I am saying if you are committed to a life of courage it will require you to be vulnerable and if you consistently live this way, you WILL fail many times.” While I know I am paraphrasing a bit, this is the spirit of her words and she is talking about the life of faith.

Since I was a young child I have sought to live prayerfully. As I have grown I have tried not to make decisions based on fear and have tried to listen and respond to what I believe the spirit of God is guiding me to be and do. However, things do not always work out. I have lost a job, I have lost money, I have lost friends, I have made mistakes, and, I have been an ass at times when I thought I was being faithful or prophetic. Faith has not always protected me from pain and loss, even when I have been prayerful and courageous. Still, living prayerfully and courageously has often helped me sense and avoid danger, endure pain and difficulty, and drawn me into life-giving relationships and experiences. I believe that most of what is best about me has come from big and small acts of faith.

If you have taken enough time to read this far then my guess is that you are somewhere on an intentional journey of faith. My question is “Who is on this journey with you?” Churches synagogues, mosques, temples, and other communities of faith can often be these kinds of communities. However, I find that we also need communities within and outside of these communities. We need a smaller circle of people with whom we can develop deep trust.

If you are looking for this kind of community, one option is the PrairieFire community at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center. It has been a place where many people have discovered and rediscovered genuine courageous faith. If you’ve read this far, perhaps you might want to learn more about our next two-year community that begins this fall? Make no mistake, it will cost you something. You will not come out of the experience the same as you entered. However, I believe you will find that change a welcome one. If you would like to know more about this community of courageous faith please go to https://dmpcc.org/prairiefire/

Your partner in hope and healing.

Chris

Billie’s blog: April 2021

Getting the Hang of Hair, Part 1

by Billie Wade, guest blogger

(April 2020) — Hair is the most prominent ornamentation of the human body, a hallmark of our common humanity. Hair plays a significant role in identity and self-expression. Black people, as a collective, are proud of our hair and enjoy creating styles to showcase it. When hair gets tangled in biases and prejudices, the result is racism, bolstered by narrow, arbitrarily applied interpretations of policies and practices.

Our White-dominated culture stresses conformity regarding the behavior, dress, and speech of People of Color. We must assimilate. We are to act White and remember we are not. Through cultural appropriation, White people freely wear the styles they punish Black people for wearing.

If White people sense Black hair styles are too attractive or too expressive, they issue mandates. They use excuses the styles are distracting or dirty. One White school administrator said the hairstyles are obviously expensive and subjugate the policy of equality the school is trying to cultivate. This flimsy excuse attempts to disguise biases and profiling.

In October 2017, the manager of a Banana Republic store called nineteen-year-old Destiny Thompkins’s hairstyle “too urban and unkempt” for the company’s image. He said he could not schedule her if she did not remove her braids. The company fired him for discrimination and issued a statement about its diversity policy. Kudos to Banana Republic.

In Spring 2018, an administrator called a fourteen-year-old boy into the office because his hairstyle was “distracting.” His mother shared his story on social media prompting involvement by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The school district now plans to update its twenty-six-year-old dress code.

In August 2018, school officials sent eleven-year-old Faith Fennidy home because her hairstyle violated the school’s rules and told her to not return. White administrators drafted the school’s policy about wigs, hair pieces, and extensions because they considered such styles as fads and inappropriate. Faith’s brother posted her ejection from school on social media, and her parents retained an attorney. The school later asked her to return.

In August 2018, a school turned away six-year-old first-grader C. J. Stanley when he showed up the first day wearing dreadlocks.

In December 2018, a White high school wrestling official gave Andrew Johnson an ultimatum to either cut his dreadlocks or forfeit the match. The referee did not allow him to cover his hair. He permitted someone to cut his hair and won his 120-pound wresting match. The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) organized an investigation and issued a recommendation to not assign the referee to future events until they more thoroughly reviewed the incident.

Black hair fascinates White people. They want to touch it to find out how it differs from their own. White strangers reach up and touch or stroke Black people’s hair without asking permission. It is the presumption of White privilege—White people believe they have a right to do whatever they want anytime they want to whomever they choose, without consequences. The answer to such demeaning invasion is, “No.” Violating someone’s personal space is never okay.

“Hairism” is used to further restrain Black people from equal opportunity. We must keep the dialogue going about this pervasive emotional assault on Black people. We must stand up to those who offer feeble excuses for discriminatory dress codes and policies. We must praise Black youngsters about the preciousness of their identity and its expression. Often, we must hold conversations in the media, social media, and courtrooms. So be it.

Note: Watch for Getting the Hang of Hair, Part 2 in May 2021

#

For more blog posts by Billie Wade: www.dmpcc.org/Billie

On the Brink: A Group for Religious Professionals Transitioning into Retirement

 PROGRAM

 

Retiring from active religious and spiritual leadership evokes many emotions–dread, joy, fear, anxiety, excitement…Questions arise: “How will I find meaning and purpose?” “What is my call now?”  “How do I adapt to all of the changes that aging brings?”  “How do I share my spiritual gifts while maintaining healthy boundaries?”

Utilizing Parker Palmer’s book, “On the Brink of Everything:  Grace, Gravity and Getting Old”, clergy approaching retirement, or recently retired, will gather four times to support one another by exploring the existential challenges retirement brings.

AUDIENCE  Religious professionals including rabbis, pastors, priests, imams and others who are considering their next stage of life
DATE / TIME  Tuesdays from 1-3:30PM

  • Sept. 7, 2021
  • Oct. 5, 2021
  • Nov. 2, 2021
  • Nov. 30, 2021
COST $200 for the full series of four sessions
LOCATION  All sessions will be held virtually by Zoom

For more information please contact Mark Minear at mminear@dmpcc.org

FACILITATORS

Diane McClanahan, M.Div., B.S.N.

Diane McClanahan, recently retired as Director of Leadership and Spiritual Life at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center. Her work at the Center included program development and facilitation of services for clergy and congregations including education, spiritual direction, clergy coaching, church consultation and conflict mediation.  She holds a bachelor of science degree in nursing from Duke University and a master of divinity degree from Yale Divinity School. An ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, she has served congregations in Connecticut and Iowa. Diane is enjoying retirement in Maine where she continues to offer spiritual direction to a limited number of people.

Mark Minear, Ph.D.

Mark MinearMark Minear is a licensed psychologist. He is also a recorded minister with the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker). His education includes an M.A. in church history from the Earlham School of Religion and a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from Ball State University. Now in his 10th year at the Des Moines Pastoral Counseling Center, he has a therapeutic niche of working with a wide range of clergy from various faith traditions across these years. His theoretical approach includes an integration of logotherapy (meaning-making), cognitive-behavioral, family systems, and mindfulness orientations. Now in the midst of his own journey into retirement, he is currently working part-time at the Center.

Chris’ blog – March 2021

Anxiety Amped Up to “Eleven”

by Chris Waddle, Director of Leadership and Spiritual Life

(March 2021) I thought he was about to hit me! His face was red. His voice was loud. He was invading my personal space. The veins in his neck were even popping out! He said it was because I did not use the pronoun “He” when I talked about God in worship. When I suggested, perhaps I could use both “He” and “She” I thought his head would explode! I decided to refrain from sharing my strong belief that God did not have genitalia.

Still, under mental, emotional, physical, relational, or existential stress, I can feel attacked, insecure, or frightened by other’s anxiety. Today, not so much. Partly because the more I know, the more I am aware of what I do not know. But more importantly, I have learned that people rarely hear me when I come at them emotionally. I know that this is true, because it is also true for me. When people come at me, my natural response is to go into self-defense mode. Fight, flight, or freeze! I was definitely in fight mode in the encounter I just mentioned.

This was not a private encounter. It happened in front of others in the church. I wanted to show folks I could take this guy on, that I could “beat him” and “win” the argument. I did stay calm, and that was good. Still, knowing what I know today, I would have approached him differently. I would not have argued. I would have not explained. I would not have tried to defend myself. I would have done my best to keep calm, stand straight, and let him say everything he wanted to say. I would have clarified that I understood what he was saying as well as the emotion behind it. I would have thanked him for trusting me with his perspective and his feelings. My goal would not have been winning the argument or changing him in any way. My goal would have been modeling to him and to those who are watching a healthy way of engaging with him.
I do not like it when someone gets upset over some little thing and loses all sense of perspective. But do you know what bothers me even more? . . . I know there are times in my life (even this year) that this has been me. I do not like to admit it, but it is true.

I believe I have grown. I believe I am getting better at catching myself and being aware when I feel cornered, attacked, threatened, overwhelmed, or just tired. Still, under mental, emotional, physical, relational, or existential stress, I can, feel attacked, insecure, or frightened by other’s anxiety. I stop listening and feel the need to “defend myself.” My emotional energy goes from being “with” others to trying to “push” others. I might want to push them away or I might want to push then toward something I want them to do or believe. Of course, they usually say “Oh, thank you for pointing out how wrong I am. I just needed you to get angry for me to see your point. I will change now.” . . . no, of course they don’t.

There is a scene in the mocumentary “This is Spinal Tap” where guitarist, Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) is showing director Marty DiBergi (Rob Reiner) his custom stage amplifiers that “go to eleven.”

MARTY: Does that mean it’s…louder? Is it any louder?

NIGEL: Well, it’s one louder, isn’t it? It’s not ten. You see, most…most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You’re on ten here…all the way up…all the way up….

MARTY: Yeah….

NIGEL: …all the way up. You’re on ten on your guitar…where can you go from there? Where?

MARTY: I don’t know….

NIGEL: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is if we need that extra.. push over the cliff…you know what we do?

MARTY: Put it up to eleven.

NIGEL: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.

MARTY: Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top… number… and make that a little louder?

(pause)

NIGEL: These go to eleven.

If you need a laugh, here is a link to the clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOO5S4vxi0o&t=2s

There is a part of me that thinks if I just invest a little more emotional energy, if I just turn it up to “eleven,” I can push you, change you, or even negate you. That’s just silly.

Still, “eleven” is that setting right now in many congregations and a great deal of that anxiety is being focused on clergy. Sometimes it is expressed as anxiety over specific issues or policies. Sometimes it is less direct and expressed as scapegoating of the clergy. Clergy even feel it coming from those who they believe should “have their backs” such as congregational or denominational leaders and even their own family members.

If you are clergy or a congregational leader and you are feeling like you are caught in the crossfire right now, you are not alone.

I also have some good news for you. There are things you can learn and techniques you can practice that will help. None of them require you to change anyone but yourself and none of them require you to crank your amp up to “eleven.”

If you would like to learn more, I invite you to join me for a live webinar: “Leadership in 2021: Ministry Under the Shadow of a Pandemic” with Rev. Bill Selby 9:30 -11:30 a.m. Central time. Cost is only $25 and anyone in the USA may register and attend. For more information or to register please visit: https://dmpcc.org/leadershipin2021/

Your partner in hope and healing.

Chris