Too many pastors experience stress and burnout within their ministry, having life's priorities out of balance. The fact is, God comes first, followed by our families, and then everything else (including our occupation and church) comes 3rd!!! All of us bascially know this, but too often, we become so busy in life and our calling that we place others in the forefront of our priorities. The lack of proper priorities in your life will result in your spouse and children feeling neglected, misunderstood, unloved or unimportant, and treated unfairly. Our calling will become ineffective because we have also neglected spending precious time with God. Printable Version link at the bottom of this article.
To better guard ourselves from the dangers of placing others first, we have listed 5 areas that are needed to bring balance back into your life. God expects us to be strong and have a strong support network that constantly provides the love and support needed to overcome the stressors associated to the occupation as pastor.
Reserving Family Times. Keeping up the boundaries between ministry and family life is a tall task for clergy families, especially those who live in church housing. One boundary that needs to be emphatically established and protected by you is that of quality family times. We must learn to regard family times as more important than church appointments, calls, or demands. We must plan quality times and mark them down (red) on every calendar (ours and the church). When scheduling conflicts (they are inevitable), we should talk about the family time in terms of a commitment we have. Too many times, family times are broken just because someone else is demanding your time and that time is not necessarily an emergency!
Protecting Privacy. A second boundary is the issue of private space or having private times for your family. Whenever a pastor lives in church housing, many church people may feel that the home is a part of the church. They need to understand the need for privacy:
Clarify Expectations. Many congregations have unfair expectations pertaining to the pastor and their families. For the sake of your family, you must identify and clarify those expectations or else they can become a tremendous stress factors to you, your family, and to your congregation. For example, the church has always had the pastor’s wife to chair the women’s group. If your wife is not willing to do so, then clarify it at the beginning. After all, the pastor was the person employed, not the spouse or children.
Higher standards for the pastor and their family are often expected. While these higher standards may not be written down anywhere, they are still often expected. For example, the pastor’s children must be the best behaved, most courteous, and never in trouble. The pastor’s wife must be the best hostess and serve on every committee. These standards bring stress and division within the congregation. A congregation should not expect more or less than any other member of the congregation.
Building Friendships. Many pastors set boundaries of not becoming too close to anyone within the church because of the dual relationship. One of the problems of pastors is that many have not fostered a close relationship with anyone. 70% of the pastors state they do not have a close friend that they can share their concerns and problems with.
We all need to be surrounded by the warm presence of friends and loved ones. The problem most pastors have had is that fostering friendships and relationships require investments over long periods of time. Many pastors have moved frequently and haven’t had the time to make friends. Therefore, pastors and their family must take a more deliberate effort than most other folks toward building and fostering friendships. Chose people wisely, those you can trust and will support you during good times as well as bad.
Seeking Help. Pastors are in a profession of helping others. People who are in a “helping profession” are often the last to seek help for themselves. The pastor’s family, just like any other family, has a right to be human and have human problems. Pastor’s family has a right to seek help in counseling or any other resources and services available for pastors. Call Pastoral Care, Inc. if you need any assistance. Let us help you.
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