Torah Portion SHELACH – Bamidbar (Numbers) 13:1–15:41
He said, “That you love YHVH your Elohim with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.” Luke 10:27 THE MESSAGE version
Shabbat shalom, dearly beloved!
In order to tackle such an important topic as Codependency, it is imperative that we understand what codependency is and how it is actually encouraged in the Church because of misinterpretations of the Word in the New Covenant.
Every one of us is familiar with the importance of loving our neighbor as ourselves, but most people forget that there is no way we can actually love our neighbor if we do not love ourselves.
If we do not love ourselves, we become codependent and make other people codependent on us!
At the same time many people love themselves excessively, but they do not love their neighbor. These are self centered and selfish.
But what is Codependency? And why is it so destructive?
Here’s the latest definition of Codependency from Diversified Intervention Group (DIG):
Codependent relationships are a type of dysfunctional helping relationship where one person supports or enables another person’s addiction, poor mental health, immaturity, irresponsibility, or under-achievement. Among the core characteristics of codependency, the most common theme is an excessive reliance on other people for approval and identity. http://interventiontreatmentrecovery.org/education/codependency/
Codependency is Enablement
We could call codependency by the word enablement: in other words, when we enable someone and thus cause him/her to completely depend on us for their emotional, physical or spiritual wellbeing. Enabled individuals then become weaker and weaker and more dysfunctional, but they also become stronger and stronger manipulators. Therefore, a bitter vicious circle starts between the enabler and the enabled. This is a most unhealthy, unrewarding relationship riveted with anger, strife, horrible feelings of guilt and in one word a trap and a prison! Eventually the enabler can collapse by having a nervous breakdown or simply throw in the towel and quit. However, if not healed, soon after the vicious circle will start again.
How Pastors Come to Experience Burn Out
In many congregations the pastors are codependent and enablers. They teach the flock to rely on the pastor for everything and without the pastor they cannot succeed in the faith. Pastors keep on fighting for the lives of dysfunctional and rebellious, self-centered individuals without confronting them, as they are afraid to lose them. Many pastors are codependent upon the acceptance of their flocks. They want to be well liked and loved by “their sheep” (who does not like to be loved?) and therefore, without their noticing, they cause “their sheep” to be spiritually dysfunctional. People come week after week, listen to a sermon, but are not able to break through in their affairs without the pastor praying for them or caring for them. They do not know how to stand on their own faith. And if the pastor does not call them when they are down or when they miss church, they feel betrayed by him/her and the “idol falls from the pedestal” – so then strife takes over: slander, behind-the-back gossip, anger, feelings of betrayal.
The Pastor feels guilty and tries to make it good, but does not dare to confront the ungodly self-centered behavior of “the flock” lest he/she would lose them altogether. Unhealthy, codependent relationships between church members and pastors are all too common. Eventually many pastors burn out (who wouldn’t?) and leave the ministry altogether!
Codependency sometimes has grave effects on human lives. Codependency is a learned behavior that is often passed down from one generation to another. It is an emotional and behavioral condition that affects an individual’s ability to have a healthy, mutually satisfying relationship. People with a Codependency condition often form or maintain relationships that are one-sided, emotionally destructive and/or abusive verbally or physically. http://interventiontreatmentrecovery.org/education/codependency/
What is the Root Cause of Codependency – and what is the Solution?
The Root Cause of all Codependency is idolatry. King Saul disobeyed the Commandment of Elohim, given through the Prophet Samuel, in order to be liked by his men. He wanted to be accepted as a new king, he wanted to earn their love, but he did this by disobeying God’s Commandment – and in turn he lost his crown!
Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned; I have indeed transgressed the command of YHVH and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me, that I may worship YHVH.” But Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you; for you have rejected the word of YHVH, and YHVH has rejected you from being king over Israel.” As Samuel turned to go, Saul seized the edge of his robe, and it tore. So, Samuel said to him, “YHVH has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbor, who is better than you. 1 Samuel 15:24-28 NASB
I will never forget 2 signs that I had hanging in my pastoral office when I was pastoring in Tel Aviv, Israel:
- The good is the enemy of the perfect.
- It is better to be popular with Elohim than with men.
Those were the instructions Yah (God) gave me when I became a pastor. It was costly to follow these powerful instructions, but as I followed them, the people under my care learnt to soar as EAGLES! Eventually (unbeknown to me then) they would have to go through persecution and even exile, but the training they received on how to stand on their own faith and their own two feet has accompanied them until today!
As Ministers our job is to equip not to enable! It is to lead by example, without depending on the acceptance of the people, pleasing The Almighty in all things! (Ephesians 4:12) To care for the flock means to teach them to seek and obey God in all circumstances, to train them to walk by faith and not by sight, and show them how to have Yeshua in the very center of their lives!
The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in YHVH will be exalted. Proverbs 29:25 NASB
Misinterpreting vital Scriptures
Many believers misinterpret Scriptures and take them to a deceptive extreme, especially when it is about “love”, “caring” and “helping”.
The same Loving Yeshua that gave Himself for us on the Tree (Cross) is the same one that said the following words:
Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21-23
The relationship of Yeshua with us is not codependent. He does not depend on our acceptance. He is not afraid to confront us, rebuke us and discipline us for our own good. He is not afraid to lose us! He cannot be manipulated by us! He loves us and will do everything in order to get us to walk in the straight and narrow. It is His way or the “highway”!
Is your happiness dependent on the acceptance of others?
When our wellbeing depends on the acceptance of others, we will develop codependent relationships. Healthy relationships are mutually enjoyed and, if that is not the case, they need to be corrected or dismantled altogether until both parties are healthy enough to form a mutual relationship. This could be in entire congregations, and it certainly is in families, partnerships and friendships!
I encourage you to first repent from idolatry (depending on the acceptance of others) and then seek help to get free from codependent relationships!
A prayer of repentance, breaking the cycle of codependency:
Dear Heavenly Father, I ask your forgiveness for all codependent relationships in my life. I have sought the acceptance of others (put names here) above your acceptance. I have misinterpreted your Word and have had imbalanced relationships and I need your help to set me free! In Yeshua’s name I declare that I break every ungodly, emotional soul tie with those whom I have had codependent relationships. I bind all spirits of darkness that work on those codependent ties, and I command you to leave me and my relationship with (mention the names here). I declare that I love YHVH with all my heart and mind and strength and then my neighbor as MYSELF in Yeshua’s Mighty Name. Amen!
You have started your process of recovery, but remember to ask Yeshua’s leading as to how to continue the retraining of your thinking and of your relationships. Yeshua promised abundant life and not codependent relationships!
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 NASB
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* Disclaimer: The author of this article is not a psychologist, but brings the Biblical Perspective on Psychological subjects.
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