Pastor Bob is now Dr. Bob.
"I'll always have the heart of a pastor, but now I'm back to being a counseling psychologist working with people," said Dr. Bob Edwards.
Edwards has been doing counseling in one form or another for 31 years, and past struggles he has faced himself help him understand what others are going through and feed his passion to help people.
With a master's in divinity and a doctorate of psychology in counseling, Edwards is a state-licensed therapist and is also one of the few nationally certified marriage and family therapists around.
"And that's probably one of the biggest needs, is family therapy and marital therapy," Edwards said.
He has been a suicide awareness trainer for 17 years, does business consultation which is mostly related to human relations and interoffice human interactions, and does a lot of seminars. Edwards noted he is going into a local business four times in the next few months to hold some morale-boosting sessions, which he calls "Living Up In A Down World."
"I go in and work on morale, work on interpersonal relationships, work on stress management, and give them the ability to get along better in the office," Edwards said. "It's basically a humorous morale booster."
He also has a series coming out for the oil market called "Living in the Bakken," that deals with the stresses workers there are under.
"And I do continuing education training for all health disciplines - nurses, social workers, addiction counselors, that kind of thing," he said. "They need about 40 hours (of training) every year, and rather than going off on an expensive trip, they can get them (from me)."
Yet another thing Edwards does is convention speaking, which is one of his great joys. While he is good at one-on-one counseling, Edwards said where he really excels is one-on-400.
Edwards first came to Minot 19 years ago to direct the Samaritan Center, which he said was Trinity Hospital's first mental health offering. He had helped start 11 hospitals while an officer in the Army's 101st Airborne Division for 11 years, and wanted to do the same in Minot before moving onto what he thought was his eventual destination.
"I came up here because I wanted to get to Colorado. I wanted to live in the mountains," Edwards said. "I came up here just to breeze through, give it a couple of years, and get. That was 19 years ago."
Edwards said he fell in love with the people of North Dakota and decided to stay. He was at Trinity for almost eight years before becoming a pastor at First Presbyterian Church for 11 years, all the while still involved in therapy and counseling.
Edwards started Upward Living April 1, and said it not only allows him to embrace one passion - helping people - but also helps him realize another passion - teaching in Kenya.
"About two months ago, after I returned from Kenya, I knew that my heart, much of my ministry heart, the side of me that got real passion in life," Edwards said. "And that's critical. Find your passion, otherwise you're just living to get up and eat and gain weight."
Edwards is on the adjunctive staff of the University of Kenya to teach and equip leadership development and basic leadership concepts.
"I intend to go three months out of the year," he said. "So the passion for Kenya is what ignited the return back to counseling."
The name Upward Living came from Edwards' second and most recent book, "Living Up In A Down World."
"So 'Upward Living' is just a symbol of how to bring your life up, to live up, live on top of and not in the middle of all this stress," he said. "My strong focus this fall is going to be suicide prevention and depression awareness."
This is a subject Edwards has personal experience with. He is not ashamed to admit he currently takes medication for his own depression and has twice been hospitalized for suicide prevention. This is what led him to become a suicide counselor.
"My own personal journeys, my joy in living. There are answers. Depression is the number one cause of suicide, and it's eminently treatable," Edwards said. "But when gone untreated and undiagnosed, it ends up in suicidal gestures."
He has been doing suicide prevention in area schools for 17 years, and currently works in 17 schools in several different school districts on the topic.
If it seems like Edwards has an awful lot of training to help other people through their problems, it's because he does. As a young pastor Edwards recognized that he needed more training than what he had received at seminary because he wanted to be the best healer possible.
"There's all kinds of healers," Edwards said. "I just heal emotions."
The overarching theme Edwards likes to stress is that life is a perspective, and if you can get the proper perspective, then you can find your passion and realize that life is indeed worth living to its fullest. He still remembers something an Air Force chaplain told him some 20 years ago, something that's just as true today as it was back then.
"The self-same wind that blows one ship to heaven blows the other one to hell. You see, it's not the force of the gale that determines the course, but rather the set of the sail," he said. "And Upward Living is about setting our sails for excellence and for living life in an upward way."