Cheating at Solitaire: The Danger of Self-Deception in Pastoral and Counselling Ministry -- By: Mervin van der Spuy

Journal: Conspectus
Volume: CONSPECTUS 12:1 (Sep 2011)
Article: Cheating at Solitaire: The Danger of Self-Deception in Pastoral and Counselling Ministry
Author: Mervin van der Spuy


Cheating at Solitaire: The Danger of Self-Deception in Pastoral and Counselling Ministry

Mervin van der Spuy1

Abstract

‘Cheating at Solitaire’ deals with self-deception and attempts to answer questions such as, what is self-deception, how does moral reasoning go wrong, what is the relationship between self-deception and delusion, and how can self-deception be prevented? The intent is to make pastors and counsellors aware of the danger of self-deception and its potential negative influence on ministry and mental wellbeing. In contrast to Buddhist-based mindfulness, honest Spirit-guided self-awareness is suggested as an antidote, and five steps in taking inventory of who we are in God’s eyes are outlined. It is concluded that although most pastors and counsellors are upright and ethical professionals, who strive to live with authenticity and integrity, it would be beneficial to admit and be more aware of one’s propensity for self-deceit.

Introduction

I borrowed the phrase ‘cheating at solitaire’ from an article about self-deception, written from a business perspective exploring relationship between the themes of executive mental health and organisational performance (Litz 2003). Thus, the question I would like to pose is this: will pastors and Christian counsellors ‘cheat at solitaire’? Self-

deception is so undeniable a fact of human life that if anyone tried to deny its existence, the proper response would be to accuse this person of it (Wood 2009). Unfortunately, pastors and counsellors are not immune to this, and self-deception remains an ever present danger in pastoral and counselling ministry.

In his article, Litz (2003) points out that the occurrence of self-deception, and its negative impact on organisational performance, has surprisingly had very little written about it in management literature. Likewise, and in spite of the incidence of high-profile pastors’ and counsellors’ involvement, self-deception has not been given much attention in pastoral ministry. Botha (2005), reflecting theologically on self-deception, points out that one would expect, given our ability to live in false realities of ‘fantastical fictions’, that the problem of self-deception would be studied by theologians and biblical scholars, but finds surprising that it appears to be avoided by these disciplines.

The intent of this article is to make pastors and counsellors aware of the danger of self-deception, by providing a better understanding of it, and, in particular, to realise its potential negative influence on pastoral and counselling ministry and mental wellbeing. Thus,...

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