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Struggling Shepherds: Church Workers, their Families, and Mental Wellness

February 15, 2019 No Comment

“Did you hear Rev. ____ left the ministry?”

In church circles, that kind of conversation opener is all too common—a sign of the growing danger of burnout affecting pastors everywhere.
Mental and emotional well-being seem to be on everyone’s radar these days—and with good reason. We have often been guilty of ignoring signs and situations that require greater care and support as people face challenges to their mental well-being.

The church isn’t exempt from this either. But what happens when the people we turn to for spiritual support are themselves in need of support? What happens when it’s church workers and their families who are struggling?

Studies have suggested that in the United States, nearly 4 in 5 pastors are burnt out or in danger of burning out. The following two articles—written by a pastor and his wife—unpack just one of those stories. It’s a strong reminder for us all to keep our pastors, deacons, and other church workers—along with their families—in prayer, and to support them in every practical way that we can. After all, we are a church together: just as our pastors care for us, we are called as faithful laypeople to care for our pastors.

The following two articles talk a bit about Doxology, a Recognized Service Organization of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Doxology describes itself as “the Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel,” and aims to support pastors as they assist people struggling with the ever-increasing personal, family, and social complexities of contemporary life.

That’s just one of the support options available to church workers experiencing burnout or similar conditions. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod recently launched a new webpage (www.lcms.org/wellness) providing a wide range of resources to promote church worker wellness. Lutheran Church-Canada’s Worker Benefit Plans may also have resources and programming to assist church workers facing mental wellness challenges—be it burnout or something else.

If you are a church worker struggling with mental or spiritual wellness, don’t go it alone. Please contact your Regional Pastor for support. He is your pastor, and he is called to care for you. Please also consider speaking with fellow church workers at circuit and winkel meetings for support and encouragement. As the book of Ecclesiastes says, “Though one maybe overpowered, two can defend themselves: a cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (4:12).

Burning Out: A Pastor’s Story

Reclaiming My Voice: A Pastor’s Wife’s Story