Fight, flight or faith: A pastoral model for spiritual coping

Steve Le Roux, George Lotter
2021 In die Skriflig  
This article is dedicated to Professor Gert Breed who had an indelible influence in the expansion of Pastoral Theology in South Africa: first as minister, and second as Professor in Practical Theology. In line with Professor Breed's keen interest in the interdisciplinary approach between Theology and, for instance, Physiology and Psychology, the main aim of this article is to show how utilising spiritual coping strategies could help the Christian to cope with stress from a faith perspective.
more » ... ritual coping was defined as an individual's ability to utilise faith in God and Judeo-Christian religious beliefs, as well as active practices to appraise, understand and effectively cope with stressful life events. A literature study was conducted on human defence response and spiritual coping to demonstrate the adverse effects of chronic defensiveness and stress. Spiritual coping was assessed from a scriptural approach to determine what biblical perspectives regarding coping, defensiveness and spirituality may be revealed. Effective coping strategies were explored to indicate how positive spiritual coping skills could be utilised as an alternative to chronic defensives. The Believe-Belong-Behave pastoral model was proposed for the utilisation of spiritual coping methods and skills that could improve psychophysiological well-being. The Believe-Belong-Behave model consists of three categories that each highlight different individual skills, corporate practices, and practical action steps, which, when applied consistently, could all function in harmony to promote psychophysiological well-being. The components of the proposed pastoral model could offer a harmonious contribution towards spiritual coping and the Christian's spiritual formation within the local church.Contribution: This article assessed theological perspectives and biblical practices within the basic tenets of Reformed theology to identify resemblances to stress appraisal and human defensiveness throughout the historical course of Scripture. This study in Practical Theology highlighted the importance of combining a strong scriptural or theological foundation with certain practical skills to respond to stressors from a faith-in-action perspective. The proposed pastoral model showed the modern-day Christian how faith in God could be used to cope with stress more effectively.
doi:10.4102/ids.v55i2.2700 fatcat:av5zqkzinjayxa7l5hibfrb3ju