Ministers wear a lot of hats and carry a lot of burdens. Many ministers enter ministry because they enjoy helping people and making an eternal difference in the world. That is a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing because there is so much joy and fulfillment in ministry. It can be a curse because when you are in a position of leadership you aren’t going to make everyone happy and that is hard if you are a people pleaser, as many of us in ministry are. This can put ministers in a position that is difficult to navigate as our calling (helping and leading) can feel at odds with each other.
Often we confuse helping others with keeping them from pain or anxiety. If you are set on keeping people from pain and anxiety your leadership will suffer and your vision and direction will be lacking because breaking new ground and taking a new direction comes with anxiety. We ministers might complain that we get sabotaged at times but often we sabotage ourselves with the best intentions!
Ministry can be stressful. It can be anxiety producing, even heavy. It can feed into our own co-dependency. As we carry the burdens of so many people, who is there to help carry the burden of the minister? Who can they talk with about their own struggles, even sins, without worrying about what might happen to their job?
When you are a minister all of your personal spheres of life overlap into a single circle. Your personal, professional, and family spheres all converge on your position in the congregation. If you lose your job you can just as easily lose your friendships at the exact same time. Few other people in the congregation are put in that position and it can make it hard to minister well as well as take care of yourself and your own spiritual needs. Ministers have special needs and there are often few people available to meet them.
Who will minister to our ministers? Who is it in the congregation or out who they are safe to talk to about their own hurts and struggles? Who will shepherd them without fear of repercussions on their job and family? These are sensitive but important issues and I look forward to discussing them with you this month at Wineskins.