In preparation for this article I confess I did Google, “How to know if a pastor is healthy?” The number of articles, blogs and sites addressing the increasing issue of pastoral health did not disappoint. After all, we are hopefully coming out of the most difficult time of leadership for pastors.
I saw hundreds of 10-question assessments to help pastors evaluate their health. But from my heart and personal experience, my prayer is that this article will not only find its way to pastors but to church members and friends who will be led to advocate for their pastor.
How do you know if you are unhealthy as a pastor?
Lack of intimacy with God
As a child of God, sometimes the most distant place we find ourselves from Him is in ministry. We hide behind the cover of meetings, ministries and caring for others’ needs. We produce and deliver sermons and Bible studies much like we would any other product. We work long hours in hopes of increasing our production, but the things that matter most to God, like prayer, personal worship and Bible study go undone. Slowly our awe and intimacy for our Creator diminish, and we become a salesman of a product we do not use. Have you allowed the busyness of ministry to invade your time alone with God?
Lack of joy for our calling
Peter Drucker declared pastoring a local congregation one of the most difficult tasks in America. Pastoring has always been taxing emotionally, spiritually and physically. However, there is no greater joy than serving Christ’s bride. As our intimacy with God wanes, so does the joy of living out our calling. As joy departs, we begin to question our giftedness, our worth, and ultimately we begin to misplace our identity. Are you joyfully embracing who God has called you to be in Him and not allowing numbers and ministries to provide your identity and worth?
Lack of grace in our relationships
When we are tired emotionally, physically or spiritually, it manifests itself in our relationships. Most often this begins in relationships with our spouses and children. Pastors often have such a desire to please others that we neglect the most important ministry of our lives — our family. Our relationships within the church will only reach their greatest potential when our relationships at home are flourishing. Are you sacrificing your family on the altar of the church?
Lack of hope for the future
One pastor who had experienced burnout said this: “I found myself in a dark hole and there was no way out.” When we are unhealthy pastors, we find ourselves at a place where we feel there is no way forward. However, I thank God that our feelings aren’t always the truth. The truth of the gospel is that Christ is our deliverer, and there is always hope in Him.
To access resources for pastoral health, including pulpit supply and information about Sabbaticals and retreat centers, visit ncbaptist.org/pastoral-renewal, or contact Sandy Marks at 919-500-6210 or Hannah Deaton.