Relief pitching and marital counseling

If I ever should become a pastor someday, one of the most intimidating thoughts is having to do marital counseling. Dan Phillips makes a good comparison and gives some solid advice:

Some of the hardest, scariest, most dangerous, heart-wrenching work pastors do is marital counseling. (I can hear the Amen’s from where I sit.)

The pastor is very much like baseball’s relief pitcher. He’s not called into action when everything is going great, as a rule. No, the manager waves for him when it’s the bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, score tied, and the opposition’s power-hitter about to approach the plate.

Similarly, couples often come into the study grim-faced, tight-lipped, angry, bringing years of entrenched patterns of behavior, scar tissue, grudges, and angry memories. Bottom of the ninth. Bases loaded. The breathless crowd leans forward.

And ol’ Pastor Bud is supposed to fix everything.

So he tries gamely, God help him. Depending on his orientation, maybe he talks about boundaries, or love language; maybe he tries to teach the husband to think and talk more like a woman. He carries some Bible water around, trying to put out this and that fire — some of them raging, some of them long-smoldering, like the volcanic belly of Mount St. Helens.

But what if he didn’t? What if he did something totally different?

Read the rest here.

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