Thursday, January 18, 2007

Kübler-Ross & Self-Abnegation

34Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. Mark 8.34-35

I was thinking about how people react when they realize Jesus doesn’t want them to keep their life, but lose it. I wondered if there are parallels to the grief stages of a patient with a terminal diagnoses. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross has gives us the Five Stages of Grief:

1. Denial: The “This can’t be real” stage. “This isn't happening to me. This is a mistake.”
2. Anger: The “Why me?” stage. “How dare you do this to me?!”
3. Bargaining: The “If I do this, you’ll do that” stage. “Just let me go bury my father.”
4. Depression: The “Defeated” stage. “I can’t bear to face going through this.”
5. Acceptance: The “This is going to happen” stage. “I’m ready, I don’t want to struggle anymore.”

Do people go through these stages when faced with Jesus’ Call to Die as well? As pastors and leaders, can we become more acutely aware of people’s movements in the stages of Self-Abnegation? Can diagnosing these symptoms in a disciple help us better lead them through? Can diagnosing the symptoms in ourselves make us better "wounded healers"?

Does anyone else have pastoral experiences to affirm or deny this proposal?


Blogger Thom Stark said...


The other day I witnessed someone being led to Christ who seemed to go through all five of these stages in one conversation.

I think I've known several people in the bargaining stage, and some others in the depression stage. But, I would add that if someone doesn't get out of the depression stage fast enough, they tend to go back to the denial stage with reinforcements in hand. Then the denial becomes, "This never happened," or "What just happened wasn't valid."


January 21, 2007 at 9:52 AM  
Blogger Jacob Paul Breeze said...

Interesting stuff Thom. I can affirm that as well. I too have seen the movement of stages be seamless and quick quite often.

January 21, 2007 at 6:17 PM  
Blogger Andy Rodriguez said...

I can certainly see how I personally have progressed through the first 4 stages. For myself, I would modify the 5th stage to understanding. I have accepted cognitively the fact being a disciple of Jesus means dying to self. I know it is true, and in my better moments my actions show it. Perhaps this is a 6th stage - say "neglect" or "forgetfulness" that we/I must constantly aware of.
When you are grieving the loss of another, say a close friend, you also go through these stages. But 10 years after the death, while you may occaisionally remember him/her, life has pretty much gone back to the way it used to be. Could this happen in our process of coming to understand that being a disciple of Jesus means losing your life.

January 23, 2007 at 8:57 PM  
Blogger Michael Burchett said...

I guess the only difference would be the grieving along with dying. When we are faced with a deadly disease it causes us to go through these stages, yet I hardly meet anyone who would choose to die and go through the same phases.

January 30, 2007 at 6:20 PM  

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