When someone enters the seminary or agrees to assume a leadership role in his or her church, it’s usually because of a heartfelt call they feel. As pastors and leaders, we share God’s messages with our congregations, and we spend even more time supporting and listening to those around us. Church members turn to us during some of life’s most challenging moments and expect us to offer hope and answers that help.
But what happens when church leaders find themselves struggling? Where can a pastor turn when his or her marriage is in a rough season? Where do leaders go when anxiety, stress or even pride are interfering? Where do leaders turn when they feel overwhelmed by the expectations of others and the call on their lives that often leaves them lonely and empty? As a longtime elder in my church, I’ve watched those around me struggle with issues like these. Leaders aren’t exempt from struggling. In fact, I’d say they might be more prone to it.
While Care to Change may be best known for our work in serving the needs of individuals and families, we’re also here to serve as a support for the men and women who lead churches and serve congregations. In addition to providing counseling services to their members, we’ve created partnerships with several congregations to address their specific leadership needs.
An excellent example is our work to help church leaders head off what’s called compassion fatigue. We’ve provided tailor made workshops in which they learned that the emotions they were feeling were perfectly normal, and in which they gained practical strategies for protecting their own well-being and family as they serve others.
In some cases, church leaders have come to us seeking help with a need they’ve observed within their congregations. A great example are the youth pastors who noticed high levels of anxiety among the teens they served. We responded with a three-week series of conversations with the students, explaining anxiety and offering steps they could take to prevent and respond it. We’ve also created programs to strengthen parenting skills and have begun offering that series in congregations.
Finally, we regularly host pastor roundtables giving church leaders resources for hard topics churches are facing, updates on mental health issues they may see in their team and congregation. As with all of our services, these efforts have been both evidence-based and consistent with Biblical principles.
If you’re a pastor or church leader, we’d welcome the opportunity to partner with you, whether that’s to serve your members or support your needs and those of our staff. If you’d like to know more, I would be happy to talk with you and share what we’ve done for other church leaders. We’re here for you so that you can have the kind of kingdom impact you’ve been called to in your leadership role.
Michael Spencer is one of Care to Change’s professional counselors. He has combined ministry with counseling for families, couples, and individuals of all ages and serves as an elder at his church.