When 81-year-old preacher Charles Stanley sat down to think about what he wanted to write about in this phase of life, one word kept coming to mind: emotions. From bitterness to guilt and fear to depression, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Atlanta says emotional struggles top the list of maladies he sees plaguing his flock. So the “New York Times” bestselling author whose sermons are broadcast on more than 2,600 television and radio outlets in more than 50 languages worldwide sat down to pen a personal book: “Emotions: Confront the Lies. Conquer with Truth.” Here, I talk to Stanley about emotions, healing, and what he struggles with at this stage of his own life.
RNS: As a pastor, how have you seen damaged emotions impacting folks in your congregation?
CS: Well I have seen it in many ways. Everything from divorce to suicide. And so often it has been the result of things that happened very early in life that they never dealt with. Or didn’t know how to deal with. Often times, they blamed somebody else for their feelings and emotions. And if a person is emotionally unstable, they’re not only miserable but they make everyone around them the same way.
RNS: What would you say the divine intention was in God allowing some of the more difficult emotions like rejection, guilt and despair?
CS: Well, I think those emotions are not from God. I think they’re from our fallen nature. In other words, fear is something not of God. How many verses of Scripture say, “Do not fear”? Neither is rejection, for God wants us to accept his acceptance of us, though many do not. Bitterness is certainly not of God; it’s destructive. Guilt is a result of disobeying God. Despair or discouragement–all of these things come as a result of not having a right relationship with God and right understandings of emotions.
RNS: Can you tell us about someone who you’ve seen healed and set free from some of these damaging emotions?