How to Conduct an Intervention



Alcohol and drug abuse is a problem close to everyone. Chances are there is someone in your family or circle of close friends that is either and alcoholic or has a drug addiction. It is important to realize that drug abuse might include both illegal drugs and/or prescription drugs. It is estimated that one out of every ten persons who drink alcohol are or will become an alcoholic. Whereas this blog is not intended to explain the disease of alcoholism or drug addiction it is intended to be a help to those who are considering an intervention as a way to help a loved one. Help is available for the victim and his or her family.

Not every intervention is the same as we are dealing with a complex problem and it requires certain skills to discern which specific direction should be taken with an intervention. However, there are six basic steps to an intervention.

Six Basic Steps of an Intervention (The Johnson Model):

Step 1: Make a list of meaningful persons other than yourself who surround the chemically dependent person.

Step 2: Form the intervention team.

Step 3: Make written lists of specific incidents or conditions related to the victim’s drinking or drug use that legitimatize your concern.

Step 4: Find out about treatment options in your area and make arrangements.

Step 5: Rehearse the intervention.

a. Designate a chairperson.
b. Go over each item on the written list that team members have prepared.
c. Determine the order in which team members will read their lists during the intervention.
d. Choose someone to play the role of the chemically dependent person during the rehearsals.
e. Determine the responses that team members will make to the chemically dependent person.
f. Conduct the rehearsals (two or more if needed.

Step 6: Conduct the intervention.
Remember that the goal of any intervention should be to obtain a commitment from the victim to receive the help the intervention team has arranged.

Principles of Intervention:
1. Meaningful persons in the life of the chemically dependent person are involved.
2. All of the meaningful persons write down specific data about the events and behaviors involving the dependent person’s chemical use which legitimatize their concern.
3. All the meaningful persons tell the dependent person how they feel about what has been happening in their lives, and they do it in a nonjudgmental way.
4. The victim is offered specific choices – this treatment center, or that hospital.

Sample intervention introduction when the victim arrives:
“______________________ (the name of the chemically dependent person), we’re all here because we care about you and want to help. This is going to be difficult for you and for us, but one of the requests I have to start out with is that you give us the chance to talk and promise to listen, however hard that may be. We know it’s not going to be easy for the next little while… Would you help us by just listening?”

Professional help should be sought if any of the following apply:
– The chemically dependent person has a history of mental illness;
– His or her behavior has been violent, abusive, or extremely erratic;
– He or she has been profoundly depressed for a period of time; or
– You suspect polydrug abuse but lack sufficient information or eyewitness accounts of the victim’s actual usage.
Hope this helps those who are considering an intervention as a way of getting help for their loved one. The most important thing when dealing with any intervention is to seek God’s will and direction. We serve a prayer answering God and He is able to help when others say it is hopeless.

For additional information on how to conduct an intervention you might want to order the following book:

Johnson, Vernon E. Intervention: How to help someone who doesn’t want help. Minneapolis, Minnesota: The Johnson Institute, 1986.

Pain and Suffering

This has been one of those weeks where I have witnessed church folks hurting both physically and emotionally. Here are some thoughts on pain and suffering that came to mind as I considered the apostle Paul. Keep in mind these are just late-night blog thoughts and not a theological statement to challenge anyone’s belief.

First, when one is born again he or she becomes joint-heirs with the Christ (Romans 8:17). This blessing is experienced in many diverse ways. The apostle Paul specifically addressed the New Testament Church in regard to suffering as part of the believers’ life in Jesus Christ. Jesus in His humanity suffered greatly. When one wants to be Christ-like he or she is saying in a sense that they want to not only be like Him in His glory but like Him as He suffered and died here among us. The Christian life is not always comfortable and convenient but also at times painful.

Second, Paul reminded believers that the future glory would indeed far outweigh the suffering that they were experiencing. It is true for us today that we will one day leave this present stage of suffering and enjoy the blessing of glory through Christ in heaven. Therefore when considering Paul’s theology of suffering it can be said that he believed suffering was as much a part of the believers life as any other aspect of Christian living.

Third, “the love of Christ” which has been granted to the believer is a promise that one can hold on to and know that it cannot be taken away from him or her.  And because of this great promise we can know that we are more than conquerors through what Jesus Christ has already done on the cross in our behalf.  Paul saw suffering not as negative or fatalistic but also as a positive way the believer could share in the work of Jesus Christ.  Suffering was a positive way for Paul to live for Christ. Paul told Timothy that he suffered and that anyone who chose to follow Christ could expect to suffer for His sake. This indicates that Paul believed that the more one was devoted to Christ the more he or she might suffer for Christ. The attitude the believer should have toward suffering should be different than the unbeliever.  Yes, we suffer and grieve but not as those with no grace and/or hope (2 Corinthians 12:8, 1 Thessalonians 4:13).

There is no salvation merit in our suffering. Christ paid the price for our salvation/redemption at Calvary. Because of what Jesus has already done in His death and resurrection we can, as vessels, show the World Jesus through our Christian living. The suffering we are now experiencing or will experience in this life is only temporal (2 Corinthians 4:17). Our faith will become a reality in the future glory that we will possess through Him who died for us. We shall see Him!

The pain is real but the promises of God are as well. Christ said He would never leave us (Matthew 28:20).

One of my favorite hymns is When We See Christ by Esther Kerr Rusthoi. For those who might be suffering I hope the following words bring you some comfort:

Oft times the day seems long, our trials hard to bear,
We’re tempted to complain, to murmur and despair;
But Christ will soon appear to catch His Bride away,
All tears forever over in God’s eternal day.

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

Sometimes the sky looks dark with not a ray of light,
We’re tossed and driven on , no human help in sight;
But there is one in heav’n who knows our deepest care,
Let Jesus solve your problem – just go to Him in pray’r.

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

Life’s day will soon be o’er, all storms forever past,
We’ll cross the great divide, to glory, safe at last;
We’ll share the joys of heav’n – a harp, a home, a crown,
The tempter will be banished, we’ll lay our burden down.

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;
One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,
So bravely run the race till we see Christ.

Are You Left-Brained or Right-Brained?

Biology and psychology tend to overlap on this subject. Psychology is concerned with behavior and mental process. Psychologist would say the question can be answered through proper mental analysis. Biologist would say this question can only be determined if the left and right sides are disconnected.

The debate concerns the makeup of the brain and the break-down of its function into a left hemisphere and a right hemisphere. Are there such individuals as left-brained persons or right-brained persons? Yes. The brain is composed of different parts however the portion that centers in this debate is the cerebral cortex which is made up of two rounded halves called the cerebral hemispheres. The two halves are connected by the corpus callosum.

The two halves are involved in different mental processes. The left side is more analytical and the right side is more practical. The right side of the brain cannot use language to describe a stimulus but the left can. The left cannot identify the stimulus from touch but the right can. The two sides communicate through the corpus callosum.

Again, Biologist say a person cannot recognize what side of the brain is being used unless the corpus callosum is severed. This surgical procedure has been performed and studies support the theory that the left side and right side perform these different functions. But let’s not have our brains cut in half over the issue! Let’s just say left-brainers tend to be more analytical and right-brainers are more practical. I would say I am more of a left-brained person. What about you? Are you a lefty or a righty?

Lahey, Benjamin B. Psychology. Dubuque, Iowa: Brown & Benchmark Publishers, 1995.

Five Principles of Discovering God’s Will – My notes from Paul Walker

I.   God has a plan for each one of us.
II.  We can know God’s plan for us.
A.  Our problem – We want to know ALL instead of “today”.
B.  Usually we have a problem finding out what God’s will is for our lives                                         because we are so busy telling others what God’s will is for them.
III.  God’s plan will keep us in perfect peace.
IV.  Where God guides He provides.
V.   God only shows the way / we have to walk in it.

The Five Stage of Grief

At some point in our lives we will all face the loss of a loved one or something dear to us. Grief does not always have to be related to a death of a human being.  It could be the loss of something dear to us (i.e., loss of a spouse through divorce, a prodigal child, or when a child leaves the nest/home) which causes us to enter into a period of grief.  Sometimes grief seems unbearable, but grief is actually a healing process.  Grief is the emotional suffering we feel after a loss.  Certainly, the death of someone, the loss of a limb, even intense disappointment can cause grief.  The following is what is referred to as the Five Stages of Grief:

Stage 1 – Denial and Isolation:
At first, we tend to deny the loss has taken place, and may withdraw from our usual social contacts. This stage may last a few moments, or longer.

Stage 2 – Anger:
The grieving person may then be furious at the person who inflicted the hurt (even if she’s dead), or at the world, for letting it happen. He may be angry with himself for letting the event take place, even if, realistically, nothing could have stopped it.

Stage 3 – Bargaining:
Now the grieving person may make bargains with God, asking, “If I do this, will you take away the loss?” 

Stage 4 – Depression:.
The person feels numb, although anger and sadness may remain underneath.

Stage 5 – Acceptance:
This is when the anger, sadness and mourning have tapered off. The person simply accepts the reality of the loss.

During grief, it is common to have many conflicting feelings. Sorrow, anger, loneliness, sadness, shame, anxiety, and guilt often accompany serious losses.  Having so many strong feelings can be very stressful.  Grief passes more quickly, with good self-care habits.  It helps to have a close family, church and friends.  It also helps to eat a balanced diet, drink enough non-alcoholic fluids, get exercise and rest.  Most people are unprepared for grief, since so often, tragedy strikes suddenly, without warning. If good self-care habits are always practiced, it helps the person to deal with the pain and shock of loss until acceptance is reached.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. (July 8, 1926 – August 24, 2004) was a Swiss-born psychiatrist, a pioneer in Near Death Studies and the author of the groundbreaking book On Death and Dying (1969), where she first discussed what is now known as the Kübler-Ross model or the five stages of grief.  She named theses as five stages of grief people go through following a serious loss. Sometimes people get stuck in one of the first four stages. Their lives can be painful until they move to the fifth stage – acceptance.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. On Death and Dying. New York: Macmillan, 1969.
Gill, Derek L. T. Quest: The Life of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. New York: Harper & Row, 1980.

Boundaries and Balance in Ministry

Balancing productivity and non-productivity time in pastoral ministry is a great challenge.  Unlike many other professionals pastors do not “punch” a time clock or bill for their time.  A pastor is expected to be reasonably available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  A phone call can alter plans which a pastoral family may have had scheduled for days, weeks, or even months.  What margins or boundaries are non-negotiable?  And how does a pastor maintain those boundaries?  My experience has demonstrated that many well-meaning church folk will take advantage of the pastor’s time if boundaries are not announced and maintained.  As a general rule Fridays and Saturdays are my two days off during the week.  However, there is flexibility to my schedule.  Some Fridays and/or Saturdays are my busiest times during the week.  However, the church members understand generally I am unavailable on those days unless it is an emergency.  It amazes me at what some folks call emergencies!  I do try to compensate any time lost by taking additional time off.  Saturdays are generally the day I observe as the Sabbath.  On that day I try to rest, replenish, reflect, rejoice, and refocus.  The key word is “try.”  Over the years it has been a real struggle but I can report progress.  Most of my days off are spent with my wife and children as family days.  This is important time for me as I cherish the moments we share.  It is nourishing to my soul and it provides time when we can minister to each other just by being together.

My wife and I like to go on dates!  One of the things we try to do is not spend our time talking about church.  Sometimes we are not successful.  For me, it is a very difficult challenge to devote time for self-renewal because as pastor I am constantly thinking about the church.  Through experience and through study I understand it is not healthy.  As I stated earlier, it is a great challenge.  Though I have been on several retreats or advances, I have never taken a Sabbatical.  Perhaps, part of the reason is because there is a large part of me which struggles with being gone for extended periods of time.  What I have experienced is if I am away from the church two Sundays the attendance seems to decline.  It is certainly not me which keeps them coming.  If it were then I would consider it prideful on my part to think I could have that type of influence.  However, in smaller churches I do think people expect to see their pastor.  I believe this is draining and unhealthy for a congregation.  However, it is a reality of small church mentality and in order to overcome this, the church must grow.  With numerical growth change is inevitable and with spiritual growth change will take place.

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