This article was written by Ben Merritt, LCSW, of Living Well Professional Counseling, Harvest Baptist Church in Paragould.
A recent study by Lifeway shows that 26% of pastors confirm that they currently suffer or have suffered from a mental health challenge in the recent past. These issues, which include emotional pain and grief, are some of the main reasons pastors leave the pulpit.
People in a helping role often find it difficult to ask for help themselves. But please know that it is ok for helpers to ask for help. You may find yourself worn out, but don’t lose heart! There is good news!
God is not surprised by the mental and emotional pain that you experience (Isaiah 40:27).
Jesus said, “It is not those who are well who need a doctor, but those who are sick” (Matthew 9:12, CSB). He created you and knows the number of hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30). So of course, he is aware of your anxiety, depression or trauma. As Jesus demonstrated throughout the Gospels, God cares deeply about our illnesses and troubles. Jesus healed the blind, the lame, and the dead; therefore, He can bring you through illness of any kind.
Here are some helpful tips:
- Talk about it.
Pastors often feel like they cannot reach out because of their position. Find someone – a pastor from another church, a trusted friend or mentor to talk through your issues. There are likely individuals who would count it as an honor to help you through whatever struggle you have. We are called to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
- Preach God’s word into your own life, daily.
Remember, you are made in His image, you are His child, and you are deeply loved by Him. He treasures you enough to give His son for you. You are His prized possession. These statements surely brought up biblical truths that you already know but preaching them into our lives daily is key. These truths are like water to a garden. They need to be applied daily for the best result.
- If necessary, seek professional counseling.
Feel free to contact Living Well Professional Counseling. This confidential counseling service will provide you with Christ-Centered support through these struggles. We want to empower you as a pastor to serve your congregation and the Kingdom by coming alongside you to combat these struggles.