I was asked to provide some insights for Bishops for an up coming meeting. The following questions were posed. I encourage each Bishop to read at least the first 12 pages of “Like Dragons Did They Fight” before the following:
1. Help bishops be more prepared to ask the right questions when interviewing.
-Bishop, start by having the young man describe some of his recent successes in his life in general. When they are expecting to discuss negative things, they come prepared to be secretive and/or defensive. If you are aware of specific accomplishments, encourage him to describe the process he went through to be successful. This conversation will do 2 things. One, it will help the young man relax while he is growing in confidence, and also, it will bring the Spirit into the room.
-Follow this by something like, “Satan is becoming intimidated by young men as awesome as you. He is trying all sorts of things to knock guys like you off track. Tell me how you handle it when Satan tries to tempt you with pornography (mastrubation, or morality issues with the ladies)?”
2. Help bishops understand the verbal and non-verbal responses (e.g. addicts tend to minimize, to partially confess)
-Usually, when the momentum of the conversation is building upon his strengths as described above, if he is winning his battles, he will continue to describe his ongoing success with enthusiasm and confidence. If a young man is not succeeding, he will hesitate. The contrast between the previous open enthusiasm and the new closed-offedness becomes noticeable.
-If you sense that there is a problem, quickly shift to an attitude of compassion and empathy. He is already in pain and scared to death. This is where Satan is trying to keep an alliance from bing formed between you and the young man. Respond with something like, “If Satan is tricking you into doing things you don’t want to do, I am going to team up with you to catch him and defeat him. Will you let me be on your team?”
-Once the alignment is established between you and the young man…and he knows that you are there to fight by his side, not to attack and/or punish him, then start asking questions like, “Well, if I am going to help in this battle, I need to know a little more about how often Satan attacks, and how often you win compared to how often you don’t win. So, when was the last time you won a battle (temptation)? And when was the last time you lost a battle? How often do you experience lost battles? …””
3. Help bishops be aware of the components that enable successful recovery so that they can provide direction to resources
(Read complete book, Like Dragons Did They Fight)
4. Help bishops recognize the changes that are characteristic of an addict in recovery
Interestingly, movies that involve young warriors or athletes depict the process of recovery best. The young warrior goes through stages.
–Wavering: Before they take the war serious, before the attacks cause enough pain to yield determination, the young warrior wavers on his commitment. I recommend a bishop have the attitude of, “I will be here when you need me.” attitude. “I will help you get back up, not rub it in your face”.
–Building momentum. This is usually a time when they are learning the principles and strategies needed to win long term, but continue to have lost battles. I recommend a Bishop be patient with this process. Try a few things, but if progress is not shown within 4-6 weeks, it is probably time to get some professional help.
–Beginning Success. It is painful to go without addictive behaviors for the first 4-8 weeks. Withdrawal symptoms (moodiness, frustration, agitation, sleep disturbance, etc.) Encouragement is important part of this stage. “You can do it!”
–Complacency stage: between 8-16 weeks the worst part of the battle is over, and some get complacent. We work on making sure to keep the calendar and the border patrol working even when feel safe.
–Solidification: Once the warrior gets to about 16 weeks, and he has had a few close calls, but won anyway, if he will continue to use his system of success, he is likely to continue success. I recommend a bishop meet with these type about once every other month..to maintain accountability.
5. Help bishops be aware of what they can do to help and to avoid enabling the addiction
Bishops come from all walks of life. Some will be more skilled than others. I recommend a Bishop do all he can do with the revelation he receives, and if he gets to a point where he feels what he has to offer is insufficient, he solicit professional help. Recovering from a true addiction is a very difficult and complicated process. Skilled professionals take many years to become good enough to help. Reading a few books and going to a few trainings will not turn a Bishop into a brain surgeon.
To avoid enabling the addiction, don’t let the man (young or not) to blame other people for his problems, and also, don’t let him be okay with continuing the behavior due, primarily to the effects the issue is going to have on his wife. Telling women to not take it personally is not going to work. It is a healthy part of a woman’s identity to be the sole provider of sexual experience for the man. Men can do many things to hurt a woman so she is reluctant to be that vulnerable. I do believe there is an unignorable Satanic element that men deal with and need to learn to fight against in order to beat this addiction, but it is the responsibility of a man to learn what he needs to learn and to train to gain the skills needed in order to win this war. To become the best athlete or the best soldier takes a lot of work and training. Do we think that learning to beat Satan will take less work?