Search Results For "pastoral depression"

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Those words are quoted from the Emma Lazarus poem, New Colossus, inscribed at the base of the Statue of Liberty. While the original intent is to describe all who are welcomed by Lady Liberty, they may also sound like an apt description of a near-burnout pastor.

  • Tired? Check
  • Poor? Check
  • Yearning to breathe free? Check

How is it that pastors, ministering the gospel of Jesus Christ, experience such stress? Didn’t Jesus say, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30)?

Multitudes of statistical data point out the fact that pastoral burnout has become epidemic. Many reasons exist for such burnout:

  • Many pastors feel isolated and fear sharing their problems with others.
  • Some churches have unrealistic expectations for their pastor.
  • The work of a pastor is never done.
  • Many pastors believe they can never rest or take vacation for fear that someone will need them.

Perhaps pastors facing burnout feel like the prophet Elijah in I Kings 19. In the previous passage, He had just faced off with the prophets of Baal and watched God’s fire from Heaven consume the drenched sacrifices on Mount Carmel.

However, this action…

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Ministry is a marathon – not a 50-yard dash. It’s tough. You’re in an invisible war where all kinds of forces are conspiring to keep you from doing what God wants you to do.

A few years back I made a list of young pastors in America that I needed to be praying for – like others had prayed for me when I was young. Today, more than half of the young pastors on that list are no longer in ministry—either they had financial problems, marital problems, or just got tired and gave up.

Pastor, we need for you to last in ministry.

The story of Elijah’s ministry burnout in Kings 19 gives us some great insights into how the cause and cures of our own burnout.

No doubt you’re familiar with the story. Elijah had challenged the 400 prophets of Baal to prove who was real: Baal or God. And, of course, God won the contest! Everyone in the nation turned back to God.

You’d think Elijah would be on a high after that. But he wasn’t. Ministry successes can drain you just as fast as ministry failures. When Queen Jezebel…

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Not all the news about pastors is discouraging. Pastors feel privileged to be called to their places of ministry. They have a deep love for those they shepherd. Most of them could not conceive of doing anything else.

But please hear me: Many pastors are hurting.

LifeWay Research conducted a national survey of Protestant pastors. Among the questions they asked were two related to the hurts I noted above.

The Discouragement Factor

One of the key symptoms of the pain experienced by pastors is discouragement. Over one-half (55%) of pastors are presently discouraged. I suspect that if we surveyed pastors over just a few months, we would find that almost all of them experience deep discouragement.

Some interesting facts we discovered in our study:

  • There was no pattern of discouragement related to the geographical location of the church.
  • There was no pattern of discouragement related to the size of the church.
  • There was no pattern of discouragement related to the educational level of the pastor.
  • There was a significant pattern of discouragement related to the age of the pastor. The younger the pastor, the more likely he was to be…

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Flooded_Baton_Rouge_20160815-OC-DOD-0009

Op-ed from Dr. Jamie Aten, founder and co-director of the Humanitarian Disaster Institute at Wheaton College and Ed Stetzer, director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism

Lessons on Hurricane Katrina’s 11th anniversary on preventing clergy burnout from those that have been there…

Dear Louisiana Pastors,

On this day, the 11th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, we want to share one of the most important ministry lessons we learned from experience, serving in the midst of disasters, and clergy interviews conducted in the aftermath of the worst natural disaster to ever strike our nation. Don’t forget to take care of yourself as you care for others.

For some of you the current Louisiana flood is your first experience with disaster ministry. Others likely pastored congregations that were affected by Katrina in some way. If not by the winds and rain then by the flood of people who evacuated to your communities in need of shelter. Today you are experiencing a different kind of flood. Regardless of your experience, you need to read this, because you are at risk of compassion fatigue and burnout.

Your church and community need your help now. But they are also going to need…

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Table

I grew up attending church a lot. I was in a church classroom a lot. When I was a kid, my family attended Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night preaching and prayer services, plus Sunday school, plus missions education programs and Vacation Bible Schools. But… I didn’t grow spiritually, didn’t really experience spiritual depth, and didn’t really learn what following Jesus looked like outside the walls of the church.

When I hit adulthood, I started to grow spiritually, but I would say it was still rather slow going. I started attending church with my wife and soaking up biblical knowledge like a sponge. I entered ministry and attended Bible college and developed the spiritual disciplines. But something was still missing.

Finally, several things happened that prompted a complete perspective change in me and kickstarted my journey toward being more like Jesus. In particular…

  • I walked through pain – depression, specifically.
  • I began to repent of pride, self-centeredness, and other sins.
  • My wife and I began to have tough conversations.
  • I went on staff at a church with a strong culture of discipleship.
  • We joined a small group of people who cared a lot about doing life together.

After a…

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bible

Not long ago I got an email from a Christian man who asked me, “What can I do to become knowledgable in Christian ethics?” Obviously, I think that’s a good question. Ethics is not, after all, something that only academic types or pastors have to think about. Every Christian has a mandate to be able to articulate the truth of the gospel and to apply it in every season of life.

Here are the three most important things you can do to develop a solid Christian ethic:

1) Know the Bible.

Knowing the Bible goes beyond being able to recite individual verses. There are a lot of Christians who know specific proof texts, but they don’t know how to understand the whole fabric of the Scriptures. They’re unable to inhabit the world of the Bible and see how it applies to ethical and moral issues in their life, especially those that feel new and difficult.

We live in a time when, because of everything from technology to cultural change, there are all sorts of ethical issues that we haven’t had to think about before. But…

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VacationThe role of pastor is extremely stressful. In effect he/she is never off duty. This long-term stress takes a toll emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Churches that want to keep their pastor for many years must provide him/her with a season of rest. I recommend that all full-time pastors and staff receive a three-month paid sabbatical every six or seven years.

The Battle Wounded …

Consider the following statistics:

  • 23% of pastors have been fired or pressured to resign at least once in their careers.
  • 25% of pastors don’t know where to turn when they have a family or personal issue.
  • 45% of pastors say that they have experienced depression or burnout to the extent that they needed to take a leave of absence.
  • 56% of pastors’ spouses say that they have no close friends.
  • 70% don’t have any close friends.
  • 75% report severe stress causing anguish, worry, bewilderment, anger, depression, fear, and alienation.
  • 80% say they have insufficient time with their spouse.
  • 80% believe that pastoral ministry affects their families negatively.
  • 90% work more than 50 hours a week.
  • 94% feel under pressure to have a perfect family.
  • 1,500 pastors leave the ministry each month due to burnout, conflict, or moral failure.

Time for…

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These past few weeks have been very trying. From deaths of people who inspired us to yet another reminder that we are not completely immune from the horrible acts of others, grief seems to be everywhere we turn.

Earlier this month, we spent a lot of time talking about mental illness here at the blog, in light of the sad news from Rick Warren and Saddleback. I spoke about the church’s response to this problem that is bigger than we want to admit, and looked at what others have to say as well. I did want to discuss more fully one issue that we can have a tendency to tiptoe around as if we are on eggshells–mental illness and medication.

Michelle Boorstein from the Washington Post called me that week, and she asked some penetrating questions about why Christians might struggle with this issue more than, perhaps, mainstream society. In that article she quoted me as saying:

Part of our belief system is that God ­changes everything, and that because Christ lives in us, everything in our hearts and…

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Counseling“What do you hope to gain from counseling? What would like to have happen?” There was a lengthy silence. Greg and Jenny, a thirty-something couple with two young children, exchanged anxious glances. As I awaited their response, I recalled the brief conversation from a few days before.

Greg had called for an appointment. But he indicated that he was unsure whether Jenny would be willing to give marriage counseling another chance. According to Greg, both he and Jenny wanted their marriage to work. Neither felt their problems were insurmountable. But their previous counseling experience left much to be desired, and as a result both were hesitant about resuming marital therapy.

Several months earlier, Greg and Jenny had begun therapy with a counselor whom they had not consulted prior to their first session. All they knew was that he was listed as an “approved provider” by Greg’s health insurance plan and his office was nearby. They were seen individually two times each, conjointly once, but after five sessions Greg and Jenny dropped out of counseling. They described their experience as “generally unhelpful.” Now as their unresolved marital issues intensified, Greg and Jenny asked…

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DepressionThis is the age of innovative ministry techniques and methodologies. We’re mad with creativity, which I love, but at times we can be right in the midst of innovation and be missing out on developing something so much more vital – our souls.

I went through a period quite a few years ago in which all I was reading were books on growth, health, techniques, trends, etc. What I wasn’t doing, and need to be, was soaking in the classics, devotional reading, and deepening my theology. So Pastor, here are three things we need to remember in the midst of our rapid ministerial pace…

Our Theology Can Always Use Deepening

Most systematic theologies will organize biblical doctrine around anywhere from ten to twenty major topics. There are four specific areas of theology that stand out in my mind as being vital to a Pastor’s soul-health:

The theology of our pastoral calling. Who is it exactly God is calling me to be? is really more important than what are the tasks God has called me to do?

  • The theology of our message. It’s vital that our respect for the word of God continues to be elevated. It’s the source…

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