In this generation, pastors are expected to be business savvy, Instagram quotable preaching celebrities, fully accessible, deeply spiritual, not too young, not too old, and if a pastor doesn’t quite measure up to someone’s expectation at any given moment, they are given a one and a half out of five star rating on Google.
Ow. Star ratings on Google to determine a minister’s worth.
It’s enough to leave a pastor exhausted. Or depressed.
I know. I am one.
A 2017 State of Pastors survey conducted by The Barna Group and Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, showed that more than seventy-five percent of them reported feeling “emotionally exhausted” frequently or at times. And more than half of pastors at churches with fewer than two hundred and fifty members reported episodes of depression. Granted, these stats are American but the last time I looked depression knows no geographical boundaries, eh.
And when The Barna Group opened up surveys to church members, the numbers soared.
But that’s not all bad.
People who suffer from mental illness often turn to churches and pastors for help. In fact, a church that is growing a healthy community should include a significant number of people who are facing mental illness. Pandora’s box may be open but there is hope.
Recent Lifeway Research reveals that the number of pastors diagnosed with clinical depression was double the national average. Forty-five percent sought advice from their family doctor regarding stress and anxiety issues. Twenty-three percent of pastors acknowledge having “personally struggled with mental illness,” and half of those pastors say the illness has been diagnosed.
Some people will try to over-spiritualize this blaming principalities and powers.
Sure, spiritual warfare is real. But too many churches are so focused on spiritual warfare when they should be loving people more than they are binding and rebuking the devil. And that includes loving your pastors who are just like you.
September 30 – October 6, 2018 is Mental Health Awareness Week. Get loud. Getting loud means speaking up to stop the discrimination and the stigma that usually go hand in hand with mental illness. It means using your voice or your pen or keyboard to raise awareness and build support.
For someone at work. For someone at home. For yourself.
Robert (Bob) W. Jones is a recovering perfectionist, who collects Coca-Cola memorabilia and drinks Iced Tea. His office walls are adorned with his sons’ framed football jerseys, and his library shelves, with soul food. He writes to inspire people to be real, grow an authentic faith in Jesus, enjoy healthy relationships and discover their life purpose.
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