I was talking with Mark Stevens yesterday via face book and we were sharing about how ministry is going – here where we are it can be pretty tough from certain points of veiw: we’re barely making it financially as a church (the people don’t tithe and most barely give); our numbers just dropped to over half where we were just a month or two ago (we just lost at least 12 people who have left the canyon (or the church) for various reasons); we’re pretty isolated (nearest big city is 90 miles out); we ourselves have few people we can call “friends” here in the Canyon Village; I have no one to really “talk theology” with really, blogging is my only real avenue for that (which, understandably has it’s own limitations); the list could go on and on and on.
Mark thinks the denomination should be doing more to help us out – it could if we communicated it, and we have. They once gave us a check to help us out. Well, we ended up getting burned by our own congregation because we had been sharing that the church needs help financially and when we told them about the check to share about the Lord’s provision, some were impressed but later we learned it was mocked (we have a cultural group in our congregation that as a culture is very proud and does not ask for help, so they didn’t really appreciate it too much). But we would need that support every month, but the district just wouldn’t be able to do that (for reason’s I won’t go into here).
So the issue came up of networking (which is why we are in process to become nationally appointed US Missionaries) but also that of self care. Really, the pastor(s) of a church need to know how to take care of themselves. Self care is a big aspect of the pastoral ministry.
So in what aspect do I mean self care? I mean spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. All of it. Why, because in essence, the pastor(s) needs to be the healthiest person in the congregation (at least among the healthiest). But this would be important whether or not one is in a big city with lots of resources or in a more rural area with few if any resources.
Please note as well, that spiritual and or emotional self care is more than just doing “devotions.” It has more to do with being able to know your own self and know your own needs and to evaluate how you are doing and what your needs are to stay healthy. It also has to do with knowing oneself from the perspective of one’s family of origin and how and why one acts and or relates to others the way one does and how to fix or improve on that as needed and so on. If your getting discouraged, how to combat it; if your getting depressed, how to handle that as well, and even how to know if you might be depressed or discouraged and so on. These are very normal things, but a healthy pastor will know how to mangage all that or know when and how to get help.
It’s the pastors who burn out or fail in minstry (or even ruin a church) who were not able to do self care or took the time to make such efforts. This kind of thing is what needs to be minimized or avoided and the key is knowing how to do and why one needs to do self care as pastor.