+Dan and his wife Trish at Christmas 2016
My wife had a brain aneurysm in 2004 that brought us back to Nashville to figure out what was next. The senior pastor of Christ Church retired around that time and I was asked to assume his role.
Along this journey I completed a Master’s in Psychology while in Phoenix, and recently completed a Doctorate of Ministry at Lipscomb University.
How has a master’s in Counseling affected your ministry?
In Phoenix, I practiced in a high-end clinic with wonderful people. I learned many diagnostic tools, but found that some things get left out. What was missing was an acknowledgement that there is a kingdom of darkness at war with us.
One day I was working with someone who was really anxious and needed more than the kind of therapy I could offer him. I decided that, in addition to the tools I had, I needed a Christian based understanding and Christian tools to help people.
From a Christian standpoint, we hunger for glory, but are broken by sin and can’t attain it. We have one foot on the brake and one on the gas pedal at the same time. Put your foot too hard on the brake and you have depression. Put your foot too hard on the gas pedal and you have addiction.
I started learning more about the spiritual direction movement and the deep understanding therein of the human psyche. Culturally, our main disease is that we are functional atheists. I am now able to bring all these tools as needed to walk along with people and help them find healing and God’s purpose for their life.
What gets you up in the morning?
What motivates me is helping “turn the light on” for someone. I feel at times like a spiritual midwife. I find joy in helping walk someone into what God is calling them to.
At times I can sense things that people can’t see in themselves, often because of false humility. I’ll point things out like: aren’t you gifted in this area, or called to such and such? As a pastor, helping people discover what God has for them is the single most important thing I do.
What is your daily devotional rhythm, or what does your own spiritual formation look like on a daily basis?
I do the daily office in the morning. Right now, I’m reading the Bible through in French, because my placement is in the Congo. I used to minister in French when I was in Montreal and want to recapture the language.
I have alarms set on my iPhone to go off everyday on the hours. It’s doesn’t mean that I always am able to get away to pray every time. Sometimes, it just reminds me to take a second to pause. It’ll often interrupt thoughts I shouldn’t have or temptations I wish I didn’t have. It calls me back. Even though there isn’t a physical bell ringing and calling me to prayer, I am connected to a community in God’s church that is praying during those times.
Who are people you have journeyed with in your life that have had a significant influence on you?
Certainly my father, a lifelong Pentecostal minister. There are some things we disagree on theologically, but in terms of his commitment to God and service of others he is a good pastor.
C.S. Lewis turned the lights on for me, trite as that may sound. He led me directly and indirectly to other authors.
Within AMiA, I am so thankful for the ministry of Bishop Sandy Greene. The particular Pentecostal sect I grew up in was very controlling, and AMiA was the first thing that I ever belonged to. It was several years in before +Sandy would tell me directly to do this or do that. I asked him one time why he didn’t give me more direction in the beginning, and he said, “you would have run if I had, you needed a few years to heal.” God sent me to just the Bishop I needed, and I have received a great amount of love and healing from him.