It's Rough Out There: Considering Your Pastor's Mental Health in COVID

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2020 has been a stressful and anxious year for all of us. Pastors, too, have been feeling the strain. Like all of us, they’ve had to function in ways they never expected or wanted during this past year. But some of the challenges pastors have faced have been uniquely taxing. 

As shepherds, pastor walk alongside the sick, grieving and dying. During COVID-19, though, they've had to do this vital ministry without being able to gather, pray or visit in their usual and familiar ways. All the while, they've often found it hard to express their own grief as it has built up in this season

As leaders, pastors always negotiate complex interpersonal and community dynamics in their congregations. But 2020 has presented a particularly potent mix of constantly changing COVID-19 protocols, controversial racial dynamics and extremely polarized politics (particularly in the United States.) Pastors have found themselves forced into unwinnable positions, seeking to provide wise and godly leadership in an environment where all of us are tired, anxious and increasingly divided.  

Meanwhile, many of the features of pastoral ministry that pastors find most rewarding: close relationships, community-building and worship together, are either unavailable or significantly restricted on account of the pandemic. 

Pastors are Spent

In the midst of all these challenges, Pastor Church Resources is hearing more and more from pastors and councils that they or their pastor are feeling burned out, weary and done. They believe as much as ever that God's power is made perfect in their weakness. Yet many, for the first time ever, are wondering if it's time to leave ministry altogether. 

Though these pastors love their churches and believe they are still called to this work, they nevertheless report feeling depleted. Increasingly, pastors are asking if they are experiencing not just “the blues” but perhaps clinical depression or anxiety. They privately wonder if they can ever come back from feeling this low.

What You Can Do

  • Share this video with your council to help start the conversation. 

  • Visit bit.ly/clergyleave to access resources on Clergy Mental Health Leave. 

  • Contact your classis Regional Pastor or Pastor Church Resources for assistance helping your pastor during this challenging time.

  • Pray for and encourage each other as you minister in this challenging time. Extend grace to one another. It's rough out there for all of us. His grace is sufficient. 

Clergy Mental Health: How Councils Can Help Their Pastors

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