On Peter, Passion, and Compulsive Behavior: Finding Spiritual Balance Within Strong Emotions

On Peter, Passion, and Compulsive Behavior: Finding Spiritual Balance Within Strong Emotions May 12, 2015

I have a theory: Peter the Apostle had an extreme alter ego that was a little out of control. Just look at what we know of him from the gospels…

The first thing you notice if you read about Peter was that he was an impulsive guy. He jumped out of a boat when he saw Jesus walking on water. He said silly things out of emotion. He sliced off a cop’s ear in an attempt to keep Christ from getting arrested. He made wild proclamations and promises he didn’t keep. He had an extreme personality, with big ups and big downs.

Many of us are like Peter-passionate, spontaneous, and even a bit impulsive. If you fall in this category don’t take these words as criticisms (I don’t-I am more Peter than Paul!). There are many great things that come from the Peter’s of the world. Charisma is a trait that accompanies passionate personalities. Peters are usually ambitious. Teaching is a gift that is usually found in men of this description, as is creativity. Passionate men also love deeply and sincerely. And we make loyal, dedicated friends. Don’t forget, it was Peter who actually walked on water.

On the other hand, when passionate men fall, we usually fall hard. We can get sucked into destructive habits and relationships quite easily. We say things we don’t mean, and do things that feel right in the moment which cause us problems later on. We have a tendency to be ruled by our guts.

So how can we find balance, self-control, and power over our impulses? Not by hard work. Not by setting rules for ourselves. Not by joining a monastery so our guts never have a chance to manifest themselves.

It’s by a power greater than ourselves we find our balance, only.

This is the truth. And the truth should set us free. Free from setting legalistic boundaries for ourselves, and free from the fear that we could slip up at any moment if we get too close to the ledge. I have experienced this freedom myself, and it comes from a deep connection to Jesus via His spirit, solely and uniquely.

If you are passionate, it’s important to realize your strengths and thank God for them. It’s also vital you real- ize your unique weaknesses for what they are are-opportunities for God’s miraculous grace to be shown in your life. For Peter, It all changed when the Holy Spirit fell on him at Pentecost. God’s ghost took up residence inside of him from that point forward. He was transformed from impulsive and reckless to disciplined and focused. And he never looked back.

This is a supernatural change. So, we close our eyes and beg God for something new, something some of us have never experienced before. We sing and pray and confess and wait on Him. He will meet us there, in the quiet of our honesty. Then, He will balance out our inclinations toward extreme behavior. And every time those inclinations return we will once again ask for help, out loud. A new mentality and a new character is born.

If it can work for a guy who cut off ears and betrayed his best friend in the throes of emotion, it can work for us, too. 

The Tin Soldiers is a one-year book and study guide for mens’ personal study and small group discussion.  It was written for emerging generations of guys who are in need of spiritual direction and encouragement, without churchiness and Christianese. You can get a copy of both the book and study guide here as ebooks, PDFs, or in print.

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