how emotionally maturity is connected to spiritual maturity

Continuing the series on “Developing emotional maturity – part 3 of many”. [cf. part 1: what is emotional maturity? part 2: how to develop emotional maturity]

Peter Scazzero is one of the few authors that compellingly connect spiritual maturity and emotional life. Since he’s got a couple of published books, that lends reliability and rings authoritative more than articles I’ve found randomly on the internet. [ cf. official website,, has resources for individuals, groups, and even church-wide; video introduction to emotionally healthy spirituality ]

Jay’s Library noted these 4 points from Peter Scazzero’s book, The Emotionally Healthy Church [read Jay’s comments too]::

  1. It Is Impossible To Be Spiritually Mature Without Being Emotionally Mature.
  2. To Be Emotionally Mature You Must Be Willing To Look Beneath The Surface.
  3. To Be Emotionally Mature You Must Go Backward To Go Forward.
  4. To Be Emotionally Mature You Must Learn To Manage Pain.

Ginger comments about Scazzero’s Emotionally Healthy Spirituality book ::

… It’s the most down-to-earth, spiritually practical and inspiring book I’ve read in a very long time…

Peter Scazzero, the author, makes the point that you may be spiritually committed, yet so emotionally unhealthy that it renders you spiritually unhealthy. He states that unless we deal with our emotional immaturity we can’t be effective or whole as Christians, and in fact it can cost us everything.

… I wanted to buy a copy for each of about fifteen people in my life. That, my friends, is the mark of a life-changing book.

Kevin Martineau listed the “Top Ten Symptoms of Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality” from Scazzero’s book::

  1. Using God to Run from God: At times we use Christian activities as an unconscious attempt to escape from pain.
  2. Ignoring the Emotions of Anger, Sadness, and Fear
  3. Dying to the Wrong Things: Some people believe that the miserable you are the more that God loves you.
  4. Denying the Past’s Impact on the Present
  5. Dividing Our Lives into “Secular” and “sacred” Compartments
  6. Doing for God instead of being for God
  7. Spiritualizing away conflict
  8. Covering over brokenness, weakness, and failure
  9. Living without limits
  10. Judging others people’s spiritual journey

Read the original list with descriptions for each of the Top Ten Symptoms of Emotionally Unhealthy Spirituality [pdf] via the official website.

And, there’s one more thing.

I just found this series of 16 talks titled Emotionally Healthy Spirituality from Newheart Foursquare Church (Simi Valley, CA) by Paul Kuzma. Though I haven’t listened to them all, yet, I have faith that these would be wonderfully holistic and healthy for the heart and soul.

You may also like...

15 Responses

  1. Milan Ford says:

    great post dj. going to read more into this…

  2. human3rror says:

    great thoughts. there's a great need for spiritual maturity on the web, myself included…!

  3. waynepark says:

    The fact that there are pastors who burn out and some who even commit suicide is evidence that there can be an imbalance between emotional / and spiritual maturity.

    The thing is pastors are such sensitive people we need to be a little more emotionally “childish” and expressive of ourselves, tantrums, weaknesses, neurotic tendencies, esteem issues and all. The reason we are in ministry is because we are all these things. If we try to stop being sensitive and soft in the name of conforming to a Driscoll and Eldredge-esque image of leadership/manhood we effectively emasculate ourselves from the intrinsic inner-strength God has given us. Trying to be super-pastor man is enough to those of us in ministry nucking futs.

  4. Tim Liu says:

    A while ago I read Scazzero's “Emotionally Healthy Church” and really enjoyed it. One thing that stuck with me was how he shows that many churches avoid addressing real emotions, especially hurts. For example, after a church goes through a traumatic event such as a pastor leaving or a church scandal, they try to move as quickly as possible past it (e.g. hiring a new pastor), without taking time acknowledge the pain, to heal or grieve. Asian churches are probably even more culpable here.

  5. erin says:

    Great series, though I disagree that there is a distinction between spiritual and emotional maturity. I think they are in part the same thing. The failures of “great” Christians indicates that though they seemed spiritual, there was a part of their heart untouched. I think it's as we see such absurdities in Christianity that we call spiritually mature. If a pastor can't treat his wife and kids well but is “spiritually mature”, what good is spiritual maturity according to the standard the Gospel holds us to? What on earth is spiritual maturity if it ins't caring for people well like Jesus?- so I guess I'm partial to Scazzero. Henry Cloud's Changes That Heal is similarly great and his 12 Christian Beliefs that Drive You Crazy, is gold.

  6. decarter says:

    Amazing post, DJ. Thank you so much for sharing this… I'd never heard of this book, but it makes absolute sense. Covering over weakness and failure is so deadly, as is ignoring emotions like anger, sadness and grief. Being intimately involved in the sexual abuse recovery ministry at my home church, I see the first-hand damage done by ignoring stuff and not bringing painful things into the light.

    Thanks again, DJ. I've already passed along your link to some friends.

  7. Kevin M. says:

    Thanks for the link DJ! Scazzero's book radically changed my life. My church is currently going through the church-wide initiative based on this material.

  8. Hey thanks for this. It's nice to know this kind of stuff!

  9. Lady Anna says:

    I may not be Asian, but I resided in Taegu, South Korea for nearly two years. I was not a soldier, but I volunteered as an American Red Cross Medical Worker. My friend was a teacher there and became an Editor in Seoul (I hope that he comes home to us very soon because we love him so), Anyway, I wanted to write that the one sentence above captured my attention. It is simple yet, to me, beautiful because some one here finally understands which is #4: Denying the Past's Impact on the present”. I was born in America 40 years ago and NO ONE understands this at all that the past has much to do with the present. The past is the cornerstone of why we are who we are. We are not asked to LIVE in the past, but to recognize that our joy, our sadness, our betrayals all of it has much to do with who we are now and many answers that we need today in our lives come from the past. The past is rich with moments that we must carry only as learning tools to make it through the present and the future.. SO many many people ignore their past with a hostile ignorance and they never understand that our past has questions which we can find the answers to right now or to the future and for our generation to the next. It is very difficult for me to find others who feel or think or believe as I do. I was a Christian, but I lack the courage to remain one and I thought that i was a good Christian, but i am not very strong. I will listen to the word of the Lord and the Bible features many, many words that I could not survive without. I am a sinner, that I know, I only hope that Jesus will forgive me my lack of courage to walk like him. I really only desire peace and I find that others are so cruel that I do not have the strength to turn away and say nothing. I verbally defend myself and I feel so angry with people who are so entrenched in ugliness and cruelty and they get away with it and have a comfortable life with out the sickness and physical pain that I live in every day. I do feel angry with others who are vain and arrogant and who are so blessed with very much. I am ashamed with parts of me inside , parts that I wish that my past had not scarred me so badly for. I have changed from the fervent and hungry Christian that I was. But to all Christians, I will not turn away from your love and understanding and your worth as the children of Lord God. I am so very wounded inside and out. So if you should meet some one like me, remember, they are wounded too and they need your help and not judgement. There are so many of us who hungered for the Lord and became angry like me. Some of us are not so much lost as we are so very damaged by the mean-spirited others in this world. I hate the ugliness of violence that i watch on the news all over. I hate that so many people are with out health care or are mistreated because of color and background. I am African-American and so what that I am. I have a heart and I am real and I feel pain and love anc need friends and I have much to offer. I am not needy, but I am creative. I love to write and build my miniature castle. i love to learn a great many things. I am married and I have a estranged family life because THEY lack love or too afraid to love back. That is all. I wanted to share this with anyone who cares to chat and connect. I am harmless and I am disabled. But I have life within me and I seek for others who have grown past a hollow soul. I seek friends of intellectual spiritual understanding. Thank you all and I hope that some one shall read this to be encouraged that there are African-American women like me who wants to reach out despite our facial differences or color. I am so tired of racism and hatred and division. All that I wish for is a world to at least try to love , to appreciate another's experiences and learn from them. I can only hope that this message reaches another who understands my words and to connect from one human being to another.

    Lady Anna

  10. Lady Anna says:

    How sp very right you are!~ i just stumbled upon this website to search for an article to e-mail to my aunt who has become so cruel and mealy mouth to me. I do not understand the sudden cruelty of people at all. My entire family has become this way and they lack the spiritual maturity that you mention here. There is a tremendous need for the basics of spiritual understanding. I notice that our society revels in the most insane ridiculous topics of our time as if they've forgotten that we are a country in trouble. We have given up on our elders as if we will never become senior citizens ourselves eventually. It seems that there are so many have either lost it or have become so devoid of compassion for others as if they are their own Island. Yes human3rror, perhaps you are not such an error at all. It is refreshing to read simple comments which say so much! Thank you! Lady Anna

  11. Lady Anna says:

    An awesome reply! I believe that what happens to pastors is that our media expects them to be a super pastor and what happens is that the pastor agrees with this statement and turns to the Bible with out coming into silence first and even asking God again, “what is my true role as a pastor. Please remind me that only you are Good and that I am a Man or woman spreading the message to turn to You.” So many of us have mistaken or assume that the pastor is suppose to take away our problems or resolve our injuries. But pastors sometimes become lost as well. The pastors who commit suicide have been attacked by none other than the evil one and I do not want to even utter the name. Any pastor who takes the calling of spreading God's word has a price on his or hers head by the evil one. In fact, many of not all pastors are attacked spiritually the most to deliberatelty keep the word of God from spreading and some pastors need to confess their human ways, desires, needs to their master.. Many of us forget that pastors are chosen by God to serve and teach His word and worst of all, the pastor is under greater scrunity of his life and his family and there are some wicked people who really want to find a pastor fall or fail. A congregation's duty is to support and to help the pastor and to pray for him so that he is not over whelmed to the evils of spiritual wickedness which comes in many faces. A pastor is a man of God and Our Lord Jesus and the pastor or any one who teaches the word of God is under much stress because of such pressure from the people and from the enemy who wants to see him fail. Pastors are approached to do so many things and whole heartedly believes that he is responsible for the lives of others. Some will deliberately take advantage of that fact and run a pastor and his family into the ground based on their demands. There are some who truly need the guidance and the help of a pastor, but then there are others who actually test his resolve to see if he wil help them or not because they know that the pastor is sensitive and will be touched by those who seek his help; but not all seek his help for the right reasons (this may anger some—but I have seen this and it is true). That is why as a church we are being taught to help eachother, to minister to one another in a way that we are taught to br the assistant of the pastor as a congregation to help those who may have the time, the resources and the ability to help one another.

    The media has become the dark one who has no respect for what is sacred or what is beautiful. The media seeks a story for tower-like ratings and the media actually engages in perpetrating discord to start an ugly rumor or division to gain a story. There seems to be no boundary in the forum of the media and there is a reason for it. The Media has over-stepped the function of the 1st amendment regarding free speech and what the media does is to starr the flames to destroy people at any cost. Even 30 years ago, the media would hardly throw stones at the pastor or the church. There was a time long ago and then not even THAT long ago that there was a restriction not to prey on the church or reverends, pastors or priests.. The immaturiry began when a there were priests in the Catholic system who were found to be pedophiles and now the media has gone stir crazy with constant yakking taik shows and taking advantage of the entire meaning of Church and God so that they would infiltrate and divide the beliefs of many by taking advantage of this terrible occurance. The media will use anything to shake up the church and what happens is that the real enemies slither from the shadows and begin to create radical demands and changes not for the good but for control and it becomes a tru e domino effect to cause pastors to doubt their calling and to feel as if they are unable to reach the ones who need him the most.

    Let us all pray for our pastors to turn to God and the Lord Jesus so that they are reminded that pastors are human and that they are here to teach and pass the word, and to love and to open their hearts in the very best way with accordance to their hearing of the Holy Spirit. Please pray for all the pastors and all of those chosen to teach the word of God and that they are protected from the evil one and his lies and trickery. Pray that all Pastors sleep and live with their armours every day and that they are protected and that the word of God cancels out tje well crafted and well sounding lies of the media. We are to pray for our pastors in the same way that each of us pray for our own probems because pastors and the teachers of the Word are under attack the most. They are sensitive to the whispers of the Holy Spirit and they are needed and deserve to walk in freedom of sensitivity to pass on these very important messages. So many of us are losing our faith or challenged by it because of the insenitivity of this world and the media who continually creates insensitivity as a commodity. I say to all pastors, stand together and create a special prayer to Our God to pray together and for eachother, not only in words, but in action, The Bible says that there is a righteous anger–the type when injustices are so diabolical or are soaked with the lies and manipulations of souls who are attacked each day or who are treated so inhumanely. The pastors have the power to come together more often and set up a prayer meeting to discuss the actions that need to be taken as pastors together. Stand up for each other as a community and do not divide because of different denominations. This is so important for pastors to do right now. Come together and remind one another as pastors that each of you are men and women of flesh. MAKE the time because your calling depends on it. Rotate pastors in your communities as leaders for pastors who need to stand strong in the face of all lies and confusion. This may prevent pastors who feel that they have to take their own life because of seflf-berating. Empower each other and come together. Put aside denominational differences and come together as agreed men and women who serve God and Jesus and discuss the topics of all Pastors in trouble or Pastors who are troubled. Take real action and start a Pastoral Group to remain strong as Paators so that each of you will take action in your prayer together.

    I am not a pastor or a reverenc; however, has anyone ever thought of such a unity. Such a pastoral unity can be organnized in every city as new pastor care cell groups designed for every community in the United States or internationally and can be called the The Pastor's Ring. A ring like a marriage that all pastors in different communities from different churches come together in confidence and discuss the most challenging issues within your roles as a pastor. The Ring can serve as a community just as congregations have within each other. This Ring can serve as a place for all local pastors to gather together, pray with power and start to protect one another in daily prayer whenever each one speaks for a Sunday service, or for missionary work. I have never heard of such an idea, b ut this Ring can make a difference and ideas can be passed and all pastors will not be judged and release their concerns together and the things that they cannot share with others except with each other and the promise is and will be that in your gathering that the promise for every community set pastor who joins is that no word sahll leave your setting except what belongs to Father God and Our Lord Jesus. Please try it because I know that this will work if every pastor within a community (say that there are i.e. 5 city churches in a metropolitian area) come together and make this meeting sacred so that no pastor is truly left alone struggling with leadership issues or any concerns for the stake of your church. This gathering will empower all of you as pastors and this idea could spread all over the United States so that no pastor has to stand alone in that pulpit becuse not only will you have Father God, Lord Jesus and the Holy Sprrot, but you will also have the power and the comrade of fellow pastors all over. This RING can be divided in to quarters and pastors can come together on Saturdays helping one another every week to stand strong and exchange ideas/ The Ring could be a safe gathering place to discuss everything and a contract of promise to be written that no one speaks of whatever is discussed in this gathering of Pastors. This is needed and it can work with a proposal and an call to urgency using statistics of what is happening to pastors all over. This will enrich your calling as pastors and keep you grounded as you call upon the Lord for the power to guided one another from the lies of media and the lies of the evil one. It is worth it and it is a life or death goal that needs to be made. Break the color barrier and the denomination barrier and make it a place for all pastors and teachers for the Lord and their churches to stand up and against all things. Try it. Think about it/ Call it The RING OF PASTORS–or something fitting from the Lord Himself.

    Lady Anna—-a lady touched by the love of pastors who have helped me in the pasr