Starting April 1st, all LIFE Group leaders will begin trying to use the CPR Tool. Please read below for support on how to implement this tool. [NOTE: This tool comes from Garrett Higbee and his ministry at Harvest Bible Chapel – http://biblicalsoulcare.org/uncommoncommunity]
What Are We Doing Again?: An Overview of the Soul Care Process
As LIFE Group leaders, we have been learning how to disciple and care for our people through the use of some key “soul care” tools. Dr. Garrett Higbee uses a helpful acronym – C.A.R.E. – to remind us of this process of soul care. We first seek to relationally Connect with our people more deeply and to connect them more tightly together as a group. We learned how to use the GPS and Covenant Tools to open a dialogue with our LIFE Group about becoming a community of committed, vulnerable friends focused on helping each other grow in the grace and truth of Christ. Next we seek to Assess the condition of their hearts knowing that their struggles have arisen due to the condition of their hearts before God. We learned how to use the Heart Tree diagram and the Heart Revealing Questions in order to dig deeper into the reasons for why they do what they do.
Once we have established a connected relationship of trust and assessed some of the key issues of the heart by the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, we are able to now Respond to these issues with truth and grace so our brother or sister in Christ can heal and grow as a disciple. In order to do this, we will learn another soul care tool called the CPR (Counselor’s Practical Response) Tool. Later, we will learn how to continually Encourage our people through the resources of the Church.
What Is the Purpose of the CPR Tool?
When we discussed how to use the Heart Tree and HRQ Tools, we used the example of Joe and Sally, a couple in your group who is having marital problems. So far, you were able to spend some quality “personal ministry” time with Sally and your assessment of her heart helped to make sense of her anger toward Joe. You learned that most of her happiness and her sense of self-worth was dependent upon how the primary man in her life responded to her. It happened with her father, her ex-husband, and now with Joe. If that man gave her enough attention and affection, her emotional equilibrium seemed to be in balance. But when he did not, she would start to veer out of control and often gave way to anger. She would constantly be frustrated with him, nagging and losing her temper with him in a vain attempt to control his responses toward her. She felt if she could just get him to show attention and affection again, all would be well with her soul.
We want to first empathize with Sally as we begin to engage in the “response” process. We must remember that we all encounter suffering and then sin because of it. We just experience these things in different ways. Biblical counseling author and professor, Bob Kellemen, explains how we should carefully help our hurting and erring friend so we don’t run too quickly toward “sin confrontation” when we respond to their heart issues. We must first offer our spiritual friend healing – helping them understand “it’s normal to hurt.” Then we must offer them sustaining – helping them know “it’s possible to hope.” When we engage with their pain at these levels, we will better be able to graciously speak the truth in love when we offer them the ministry of reconciliation through Christ – helping them understand “it’s horrible to sin, but wonderful to be forgiven.”
The CPR Tool will help us choose the appropriate response to guide Sally toward this reconciliation based on her unique heart issues.
Background Information to Properly Understand the CPR Tool
The psychological world hasn’t always done a good job of prescribing remedies for human problems. They do not typically point to Christ and His Word as the ultimate solution. We believe this is a tragic error and causes even more problems for the struggling soul. However, just because they haven’t done a good job of prescribing truly healing remedies for the soul doesn’t mean they haven’t done a good job of describing the problems of the soul.
The psychological world has separated out most human problems into two large categories: behavior disorders and mood disorders. They have divided these into further sub-categories. The behavior disorders have two types: disruptive disorders (things like “oppositional defiance”) and impulsive disorders (“addictions”, etc.). The mood disorders also have two types: depressive disorders (including “major depression,” “bi-polar,” etc.) and anxious disorders (“generalized anxiety,” “panic attacks,” “PTSD,” etc.).
What is interesting about all these categories is that Scripture had already established these categories thousands of years earlier, just with different descriptive names. There truly is nothing new under the sun.
Garrett Higbee, in his article Let Me Draw You a Picture, demonstrates with much Scriptural support how God defines human problems and how these definitions overlap with the current psychological labels. Scripture breaks down all human problems into two main areas of sin: Pride and Unbelief. Pride corresponds with “behavior disorders” and unbelief corresponds with “mood disorders”. This correlation becomes even clearer when looking at the sub-category definitions. It could be said that the Bible breaks pride down into anger and foolishness. Anger corresponds with the world’s sub-category of “disruptive disorders.” Foolishness corresponds with “impulsive disorders.” Unbelief seems to be broken down into despair and fear in Scripture. Despair corresponds with the world’s sub-category of “depressive disorders.” Fear corresponds with “anxious disorders.”
Every problem you encounter with your people in your LIFE Group has a category that helps define its nature. If we use the world’s labels to define it, we will not be able to show how the Bible is truly relevant and powerful to help your friend change and grow. But when we go back to describing a human problem with the original biblical label, it allows us to prescribe the biblical solution.
How to Use the CPR Tool
First Step: Applying Biblical Labels. Let’s think about Sally again. She clearly is displaying some anger. Her problems are probably not severe enough to be formally diagnosed by a modern psychologist with a disorder fitting under the “disruptive” category, but they would likely say her behavior against Joe fits in that general area. We would offer a biblical explanation. Sally is displaying anger. That anger is stemming from some pride that is preventing her from humbly repenting of her own sin. In lieu of seeing her own issues because of her pride, she is blame-shifting and growing more and more agitated with Joe. This same downward cycle of pride, anger and blame-shifting likely led to the demise of her first marriage (this would possibly be an area for you to explore with non-offensive, open-ended data gathering questions).
The secular model of psychology might also camp out on its categorization of Sally’s angry behavior and miss the even deeper issue of her heart: her fear. You discovered through your assessment that Sally is afraid of losing the attention and affection of the primary man in her life. The Bible would further qualify this fear as the “Fear of Man.” Fear of Man is simply putting more stock in what others think of you than what God thinks. Man’s view of us is notoriously fickle. If our happiness, peace of mind, emotional equilibrium or reason for living is wrapped up in what others think, we will find ourselves on an out-of-control roller coaster. It is terrifying and dangerous. “Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety” (Proverbs 29:25). In Sally’s case, it made her turn toward trying to manipulate and control Joe in an effort to get him to give her the attention and affection she craved. When he failed to comply, she resorted to anger. Perhaps she thought this kind of strong-handed “punishment” might get him to finally comply with her wishes?
If the secular world had seen this, they might have labeled her as having an “anxious mood disorder.” We would say she is displaying fear of man. That fear is stemming from some unbelief in her heart that is preventing her from trusting God regardless of the circumstances of her marriage. In lieu of trusting both God’s view of her and His control over her life, she is trusting in her own control of how she feels Joe should view her. Because she really does not have this kind of control, the terror of her crumbling world has tempted her to behaviors of nagging, sarcasm and anger toward Joe.
Next Step: Determine Your Game Plan for Confronting the Sin. At this point, you have determined that Sally seems to be struggling with Anger and Fear, which flow from Pride and Unbelief, respectively. The CPR Tool helps you more accurately describe her sin as it relates to her posture before God. In the case of her anger, she is seeking to control instead of letting God control. In the case of her fear, she is distrusting God.
Now you are in a position to gently confront her issues of control and distrust so she can find the healing power of forgiveness in Christ. First Thessalonians 5:14 gives us some good guidelines for how to confront our brothers and sisters when they are struggling with sin. It helps us remember that every person is different and needs to be ministered to in different ways. “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men.”
Someone whose predominant struggle is anger/control or foolishness/lust usually behaves in an “unruly” fashion. Perhaps a more firm “admonishing” style of confrontation is needed. Someone whose predominant struggle is despair/doubt or fear/distrust usually behaves in a “fainthearted” or “weak” manner. A softer “encouraging” and “helping” style of confrontation is more appropriate. Of course, regardless of the person or their type of struggle with sin, we need to be patient with all of them. We must remember that we are all sinners who have been given free grace and forgiveness through Christ! “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Look at the CPR Tool to get some specific suggestions on how to confront Sally’s sin issues in the spirit of First Thessalonians 5:14. Sally is struggling with anger/control and fear/distrust. You may feel that her predominant struggle is not anger but rather fear. This will change your approach a little. When you look at the tool you will see that confronting distrust starts with comfort, whereas confronting anger starts with a firm, but private confrontation (don’t confront publicly as this brings shame and provokes further anger). As you continue to confront her distrust, you will challenge the unbelief you see in her after you have encouraged her with prayer. Gently help her see how this unbelief in God concerning Joe has led to the other struggles she is facing. Finally, encourage faith in her. Show how her unrest could give way to deep rest if she repents of her distrust and puts her trust back in God. Read passages like Matthew 11:28-29 with her.
If her predominant sin is control, you will want to confront her privately by encouraging her to surrender her control over to God. Help her learn how to repent of her anger and control and experience the healing power of the gospel of God’s grace in Christ. Read passages like 1 John 1:9 with her. Help her establish some boundaries so she does not feed her flesh or tempt herself into sinning in anger (Romans 13:14). Perhaps make a covenant with her committing her to call you whenever she feels hurt because Joe didn’t listen to her like she hoped he would. This may give you an opportunity to help her renew her mind (Romans 12:2) in real time by helping her learn how to take her thoughts captive for Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Maybe you can help Sally get more involved with you and some of the other ladies in your group so that she doesn’t put her whole focus on Joe. She needs to spend time with other Christian women and not just Joe, especially if those relationships are focused on helping one another accept the gospel of our acceptance in Christ. These relationships focused on developing biblical thinking will help her put on the “whole armor of God” so that when she is tempted to fear Joe’s view of her or get angry at him, she will be able to stand firm (Ephesians 6:13).
If you have others in your LIFE Group who struggle with other core heart issues like foolishness/lust or doubt/despair, the CPR Tool lists helpful steps to know how to patiently confront these sins as well.
As a LIFE Group leader, you are called to shepherd your people. If you are faithful to Connect deeply with your people, Assess their heart issues, and Respond to their sin struggles with the grace and truth of Jesus Christ found in His Word, God will be faithful to transform hearts and produce good fruit in your group. Angry people will grow more surrendered to Christ. Foolish people will grow more satisfied in Christ. Despairing people will grow more hopeful in Christ. Fearful people will grow more trusting of Christ. And God will be faithful to reward you for your labor of love: “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you…and when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:2, 4).
Begin using the CPR Tool (along with the previous GPS, Covenant, and Heart Tree tools) over the next 6 weeks to develop this skill of responding with grace and truth. Eventually, you will have the skill to know how to properly Encourage someone by discerning the severity of their struggle and what level of resources you should direct them to within the church, but this will come in a later learning assignment starting May 11th.