When a pastor suffers from addiction, what options does she or he have to get better? Dale Ryan, director of the Institute for Recovery Ministry and associate professor of recovery ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary, lent his expertise on this question to Leadership Journal, a major imprint of Christianity Today. In the Winter 2016 article “Pastors in Recovery,” author Amy Simpson offered several stories that were indicative of many pastors’ journeys through the difficulty of becoming an addict and recovering. Dr. Ryan weighed in on the complexity of recovery, as it is often entangled in larger systemic issues of addiction and unhealthy patterns.
"The addicted person is not always the sickest person in the system,” Ryan is quoted as saying. “They may be easiest to identify, but there are plenty of codependents whose lives are just as unmanageable as any addicted person. If the systemic issues are not addressed, you don't get to the root of the problem."
But there is hope, according to Ryan; when one person in a system seeks help, it tends to have a ripple effect throughout families and congregations, leading to healing for many who have their own addictions. Ryan says, “Our communities are full of people who, if they're going to hear the good news, it’s got to be crafted with a deep understanding of addiction issues.”
Read the full Leadership Journal article here.
Learn more about the Fuller Institute for Recovery Ministry and master’s-degree emphasis in Recovery Ministry.
Read an article by Dale Ryan, “Why the Church and the Academy Need Recovery Ministry,” in FULLER magazine.