Reading time: two minutes. Your emotional health is of utmost concern to your Lord, to all of us who care about you, and to all of those who depend on you for gospel ministry. Tending to your emotional and mental health needs is not selfish; it’s responsible stewardship. At any given time, about 20% of clergy are in need of specific, ongoing, professional care for depression or anxiety and another 20% are approaching that place of need. I strongly urge you to seek the confidential care available to you. Concordia Plans members can access help through the Employee Assistance Program by calling 866-726-5267. Even if you don’t need the care of a counselor, none of us are exempt from changes to our emotional mood. Life inflicts emotional hurt. The gospel brings substantial healing. A majority of people will experience a time of emotional need that could use professional care somewhere along the line. Almost everybody will have their feelings hurt in one way or another just about every week. Clergy are particularly susceptible to hurt feelings and a change in their mood because we tend to be passionate about serving people, and thereby pleasing people. That makes us vulnerable to hurt feelings. The “old nature” response to feelings of hurt is to retaliate with the intention to hurt back, also known as “giving the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:27). How do you take a bad mood and make it worse? Give the devil a foothold! How does a mood of bitterness and emotional upset, the result of strained relationship, find substantial healing? Through God’s gifts of confession and absolution. The mood of American culture has created a fertile opportunity for our witness to the gospel. Division, hurt feelings and the desire for retribution are running amok all around us. Christians are just as human as everyone else, but by faith we know that there is an alternative to escalating hostility and bad mood. When we commit to living in love and harmony with one another, we commit to short circuiting the bad mood patterns that erupt when we hurt one another. We don’t escalate. We repent. When we hurt or are hurt by another, we pause, we assess, we recognize what’s happening, we seek God’s mercy and help, we intervene, we reach out in love, we confess. We seek mutual healing and restoration. How would the world around us respond if they saw followers of Jesus becoming quicker and quicker to live as peacemakers by announcing more rapidly, “I was wrong. Please forgive me”? Peace feels better than bitterness. Be a peacemaker. Invite Jesus to heal the hurts. Thanks for reading.