Hey! It’s Rebecca Spooner here with Wellspring Renewal Center. I wanted to take just a moment or two to talk a little bit about clergy mental health. Pastors have, I think, one of the most difficult jobs out there. Pastors are not like anybody else. They have a very unique calling. And there are a lot of things that sometimes get in pastors way when it comes to keeping themselves healthy. I am a Presbyterian minister. I’ve worked with clergy for many many years and I’ve served congregations for many years as well.
I think that one of the first things that get’s in clergy’s way is expectations. So people in congregations have CRAZY expectations of what they want their pastor to be. A hundred years ago all pastors had to do was marry, bury and baptize. But now a days we are expected to be educators, expert preachers, expert fundraisers, stewardship; I mean you name it and we are expected to be it. And seminary, I don’t care how wonderful it is, never completely trains you to be a pastor. So I think it is important for clergy to understand what their limits are and to know where their gifts and abilities are. And to lead with those gifts, and then to find a way of delegating their less than strong areas. So leading with your strengths and delegating your weaknesses.
Two, I think is having really good boundaries. Because if pastor’s worked 24 hours a day seven days a week, the’re still not going to get the job done; it’s just too huge. So having realistic expectations of what can and cannot get done. If you take your day off…well WHEN you take your day off (everybody needs a day off),that you are pretty strict about it. And that you turn the ringer off your phone and check your messages if you need to, but take time to take care of yourself. As a part of boundaries and expectations to make sure that you carve out some time to ground yourself in prayer. To get connected to your source. Whether that’s five minutes in the morning or fifty minutes in the morning. Or time through out your day. Because we can’t share what we don’t have and if you don’t take the time to get full yourself … if you don’t take time to fill up your own well, then you don’t have anything to share with anybody else.
I think being a pastor is also very isolating because it’s a unique job. A lot of people don’t really understand what pastor’s do and it’s hard to find people with whom we can be really honest. One of the things that I’m grateful for about Wellspring, is that we offer a clergy support group. We’re off for the summer, but beginning in August we meet once a month for two hours. It’s just clergy. Clergy of all denominations and its a safe place where people can express what their frustrations are. Where they can seek leadership and advise, direction, prayer and support. It’s just a great place. It’s a safe place that helps pastors feel a little less isolated. If support groups are not your thing, find another pastor that you can trust. Find a group of pastors that you can meet with where you can be honest and truly authentic about what your struggles are and maybe covenant to pray with and for each other so that you don’t feel so alone.
Just know that everything that you struggle with as a pastor, and there are lots of things that pastors are challenged with, just know you are not alone. That every pastor out there is feeling the same way. If you are a member of a congregation listening to this, ask your pastor how you can support him or her. What would it look like to be an advocate for your pastor? And hopefully they will be honest and tell you.
So having a community of faith is a tremendous blessing. Having a healthy pastor is a tremendous blessing. Being a healthy pastor is EVEN better. If you need some more direction or if there is anything I can do to help you in this endeavor please feel free to shoot me an email, Rebecca@WellspringRenewalCenter.com It’s super Simple. If you live in the area and would like to set up an appointment, let me know! You can call the main office (501-265-0046) my admin, Michala is amazing and she will get you on my schedule. Or if you would like to join clergy support group, we can help you out with that. Either way, I hope you are having a great day! Let us know how we can help make things better.