A Rewarding Journey

It all started in 2004 when I decided that our culture and political system made service to the poor and downtrodden difficult without resources. Merely seeking a means to make legitemate referrals for homeless folks turned into a career move.

With little time to do what sparked the journey I hope to balance the work and ministry scales by doing both at all times.

Finally I’ve reached the terminal point of the earthly trajectory for my education in social work. And 11 years later, maybe I can finally put the degrees and credentials to thier intended use.

This came in the mail today!

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Now about those student loans…

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work – Part 5

This is the fifth entry in a series of posts addressing Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work. The purpose of these posts is to view questions proposed from a friend a few years back when he learned that I was pursuing a degree in Social Work. You can see the entire series as it is posted by clicking here. So, here is the next entry, enjoy!

Q. How do you interpret 2 Peter 1:3

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence

Continue reading Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work – Part 5

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work – Part 4

This is the fourth entry in a series of posts addressing Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work. The purpose of these posts is to view questions proposed from a friend a few years back when he learned that I was pursuing a degree in Social Work. You can see the entire series as it is posted by clicking here. So, here is the next entry, enjoy!

Q. How does Social Work interface with Christianity? Continue reading Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work – Part 4

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work – Part 3

prayerThis is the third entry in a series of posts addressing Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work. The purpose of these posts is to view questions proposed from a friend a few years back when he learned that I was pursuing a degree in Social Work. You can see the entire series as it is posted by clicking here. So, here is the next entry, enjoy!

Q. In what ways, if any, has your study of the mind shaped your faith?

A. I suppose that saying social work is a studying of the mind would be mislabeling what social work actually is. The difference between a social worker and a psychologist or psychiatrist, in short: is that the social worker seeks to empower the individual to utilize, develop, and understand the tools they possess in order to manage their lives. The field of social work is in fact so diverse that it would be difficult to limit the social worker’s role to any one single spectrum. The above explanation is broad and universal in most social work roles.

I will have to admit that the beginning of my study in social work was met with great trepidation. I was fearful that I would have to embrace theories and practices that contradict my faith and beliefs. But, the biggest hindrance I experienced was that I approached all methods of therapy from a nouthetic approach. I feared that I would no longer be willing or able to help people without compromising my belief system. Continue reading Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work – Part 3

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work – Part 2

Pandy tip- diplomaPreviously, I posted the first post in a series on Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work – Intro. I am continuing the discussion of this topic with the first question. Some questions may overlap each other in content, but for sake of clarity, I will allow each question to be answered and posted individually. If you have any questions or insights you would like to offer on particular questions please feel free to leave a comment, I would love to cover this subject as thoroughly as possible.

It is important to note that to differentiate social work and psychology is an important task, and must be done in order to know just what it is that separates the two. The initial line of questioning involved understanding Psychology as a whole and the questioner did not know there was much difference between the two fields, and not many do. The differences will hopefully be illustrated by answering question four. But for now, lets get to the first one shall we?

Q. What motivated you to choose a major in social work?

A. I was motivated to choose a major in this field by a number of factors. Most notably, my exposure to the field at an early age. Not necessarily as a proponent or pupil, but as a subject. I was privy to the insight of many well-educated social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, guidance counselors, and other “social service” workers and agencies. What I experienced personally and through observation showed me later in my life that there are many things that seemed broken in the way individuals are assisted through these avenues. I felt that I could make a difference.

Although not to influence change on the social services and professions themselves, but to learn the methods and means to become accredited and serve in a capacity that would allow me to help individuals one person at a time. I honestly feel that treating everything BUT the sin nature of the individual is inherently evil in and of itself and merely reinforcing the problem that originally created the need for man’s inability to be “good”. That problem I would identify from my own world-view is sin.

My motivation is to reintroduce in the practices I employ as a professional the very things I’ve seen disregarded or ignored in my personal experience. In my opinion, this lack is conclusively identified as the absence of the message of Christ and proclamation of restoration through salvation in him.

What about you? Do you have personal experience with the social work profession or its ideology? What do you think could be different?

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This post is part of a series.

  1. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work – Intro
  2. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work – Part 2

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work – Intro

Helping-Hand

A friend has asked me if he could pick my brain regarding my choice of major (Social Work) and how it correlates to my Christian Faith. We started this conversation back in 2009, and having worked in the field for a couple years, some of my responses have changed. The question is one I still keep asking myself and the answer, I believe will be changed several times more. But, the question itself has remained the same. Why did I become social worker? How does my faith and my vocational choice interact with each other? Why in the world would I embrace certain aspects of secular theory regarding human behavior? Is it all just as simple as relating it to sin and calling it a night? These questions all have validity in their inquiry, but does my answer to them hold a candle to biblical truth?

I hope to answer my friends questions as succinctly as possible, and I will be sharing them here. As he is not the first to ask me these, he is the first to take time to put down his questions in written form and allow me to tackle them one at a time. I hope this discussion proves fruitful for him, me, and all others who chose to read this. I hope it piques your curiosity as well, as it is question many of us have in a world where self-help has run amuck, the pharmaceutical companies get filthy rich while they create “cures” for mental health issues, and individuals are consistently convinced that they will “always” have a problem with their…problems…

May Christ be glorified in all this, and I am excited about these questions. I hope you will join me for discussion on these topics. And as usual, there is more to come!

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This post is part of a series.

  1. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work – Intro
  2. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ, and Social Work – Part 2

Being faithful to Christ in a “quasi-government” employment setting.

I work in Community Mental Health. Technically, I am not an employee of the government. But, by proxy, I am employed by a contractor whose major funding source resides at the County level. That County source gets its funding from the State, and the State receives most of its money for this funding from the Federal Government. So you see, essentially, if we want to keep our funding, we submit ourselves to the County’s protocol and policies regarding the manner in which we provide services.

While working for my employer, I am defaulted into a position of being subject to the rule and regulation of Government Policy. This is not all bad. But in many ways, this poses significant obstacles to remaining obedient to the rule which matters most in my life, the rule of Christ.

Fundamentally, as a Social Worker, and an employee, I am hired to provide services to a multitude of individuals with various impediments, illnesses, world-views, and religious affinities. This set of characteristics is also synonymous with my co-workers and peers in the workplace. It is therefore not the environment, the funding source, or the people I serve and work with that raise a concern regarding my faithfulness to Christ and his rule, it is the test to remain obedient to Christ when others would rather you not be.

Principally, my profession requires you to be objective and constructive while employing your skills to assist, educate, and support our clientele and each other. The preferred tool of choice is an education that consists of knowledge from textbooks, clinical experience, world philosophy, and a hodge-podge of psychological/sociological theory.

While I would not throw the baby out with the bath water, as in some nouthetic approaches that staunchly promote the use of “The Bible Only” in counseling, I would err cautiously on the side of using tact. So without staking an empirical claim in either camp, what is then left?

I frequently find myself in the position of asserting the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. More often than not, the prevalence of Christian ideals and philosophy are more pervasive in human services and mental health treatment than one would assume. Even with a professional aversion to religion, specifically Christian religion, it is much easier to talk about the simplicity of what was taught by Jesus Christ.

At the end of the day, the most effective tools one can utilize in helping people who seek assistance from my agency, and by proxy me, is to preach Christ. Even with the adversarial nature of those who would oppose any form of proselytizing in the workplace, I always find myself coming back to the inner struggle with what I was taught professionally versus that which I have been taught by the words of the Lord.

So the safest philosophy to employ whilst preaching Christ and working for the Government is simple. Those who would normally stand against you are often those who scoff and blaspheme the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. At this point, their behavior becomes a qualifier and segue to open, candid, and purposeful discussion about what Jesus actually taught.

My clients, they generally are open and interested in knowing how to become freed from their afflictions, and often initiate discussions of Christ, the Bible, and living as a real disciple.

This leaves one last question to ask then. How closely does the life of the disciple match up with the words of his mouth? Which is more effective in a workplace where you are bound by government policies and hostilities toward your faith? Is it solely your words or is your deeds? Or is it better to ask is my life and doctrine compatible with each other to the extent that it is obvious to all those around me, client and co-worker alike? And ultimately, preaching Christ worth losing my job?

Act 4:19-20  But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge,  (20)  for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.”

What do you think? How do you express your faith during the daily grind? Are you able to freely express your faith in the workplace? Do you find it difficult to share Christ with those you interact with? What has been your experience in this realm?