Where do pastors turn for help since they are often the ones giving counseling?
Physician, Heal Thyself
Pastors are giving counseling so often that at times they must feel drained. They pour out their lives so much for others that they rarely are filled up by others and that’s the problem when pastors need counseling themselves. They are no different from others who battle with life issues like relationship problems, problems with their children, problems with finances, health issues, and the great demands put on them by the church. They are constantly on call 24/7 so one way to help a pastor and really, help all members of the body of Christ is to have a mentor and to be a mentor. I believe that ever pastor needs to be mentoring someone but to also have a mentor himself. This is very much like the Apostle Paul and Timothy’s relationship as Paul mentored Timothy. You might not think so but a pastor needs a mentor too even while they are mentoring others, but where can pastors turn when they need help? We expect pastors to be pillars of strength but the fact is that they too need help at times and they are just as human as anyone else in the church.
I am over 60 years old but that doesn’t mean that I don’t need a mentor too. My mentor is our former pastor who had to retire due to some serious medical issues but that doesn’t mean that God can’t use him. I pick his brain, I tap his experience, I use his biblical wisdom and when I don’t know what to do about a certain situation, I turn to him. He’s usually been through it and so I can ask his wise counsel since I know that “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (Prov 11:14). My mentor knows me well enough to speak the truth to me and I tell him to do tell me what he thinks without worrying about offending me. I don’t’ care if it wounds me because I would rather be corrected than incorrect and that’s why I feel everyone needs a mentor but also to be a mentor so just because you’re a pastor, it doesn’t mean you don’t need mentoring either. We both agree that “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy” (Prov 27:6) because “Blows that wound cleanse away evil; strokes make clean the innermost parts” (Prov 20:30).
Halving Burdens, Doubling Joys
When you have someone to talk to about your troubles it seems that the load is lightened somewhat so perhaps it’s because a burned shared is cut in half but a joy shared is doubled. We need one another. We were created for relationship and for fellowship and we need the encouragement, exhortation, and edification of others but when we don’t give out such things for others, we find ourselves on the short end of the deal. That is, we are always pouring ourselves out but never filling ourselves up. If you have a gallon jug and you keep pouring it out but never fill it back up then you know, eventually, the gallon jug will be empty and will not be of any use to anyone so pastors must seek help, they must have the counsel of other pastors, and they need a mentor to help show them their blind spots.
The pastor is probably under greater spiritual attacks from the enemy than most others in the church. Not always, but typically so they need your prayers, your encouragement, and your verbal support. The Book of Revelation mentions that Satan was cast out of heaven and went off to make war with the saints so perhaps we’re at that point now. The Devil knows that his time is short and so he is ramping up his attacks through demons and his focus is mainly on those preachers who are preaching the whole counsel of God; the need for repentance, living in holiness, sanctification, the necessity of the blood of the Lamb, and preaching the whole Word to the whole church because that’s where the power is. The gospel is its own power source and it’s the very power of God (Rom 1:16) but when a church starts to grow; when a church begins to evangelize; and when a church begins to preach the gospel of repentance and faith just as Jesus did (Mark 1:15), then the enemy will start focusing on that pastor and that church. This is all the more reason the pastor must seek help when he feels that he’s overburdened, overworked, and under assault from the enemy.
If you’re a pastor and you’ve never reached out to other pastors at other churches, I suggest you find a place where you all can meet, perhaps quarterly, and help one another and encourage one another, and pray for one another. The pastor’s job is not a solo act. It’s hard on his family too and he and the pastor’s family need time away from the church just as anyone who has a secular job needs to take a vacation once in a while. Your best ally is you mentor. If you don’t’ have one, find one; your best counsel may be him but the Great Shepherd for which we are all simply under-shepherds for, calls us all to come to Him and lay every burden down and every care and He will give us rest.
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.