When the Bottom Drops Out
At Chrysalis Counseling for Clergy we acknowledge how difficult ministry can be. The demands placed upon pastors and ministry leaders today are complex and varied in ways heretofore not experienced. Not only is the sheer practice of ministry more and more complicated, but the effects of this stressful environment on the overall health of ministry leaders are profound as well. In short, we know that being a pastor takes its toll in physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, and sometimes financial ways. Many pastors are able to maintain some semblance of balance in the midst of this stress. But sometimes the bottom drops out. What do we do then?
Over the course of my 30 plus years working the church the bottom has dropped out on me twice. The first time was a maelstrom of burnout, depression, stress, and health issues. When the bottom dropped out that time I had to seek professional help to get my footing back. In this case, my therapist, close friends, and family, were able to help me see that I needed help. I also learned in this situation that often when the bottom drops out our judicatory leaders aren’t prepared to help, or don’t want to help. Instead the people closest to us come to our aid.
The second time the bottom dropped out for me was when I was told that there was no longer any place for me where I was working in ministry. In this case the issues were external—loss of a job—rather than mental and physical health issues. However, the feeling was all too familiar. Suddenly I was in a no-man’s land of vocational and personal identity. Additionally the fear of financial hardship and questions of what would be next were constantly on my mind. In some ways this experience felt like a scene out of Job where everyone had a great idea for what I should do next. However, in spite of the good intentions of those dear friends, when the bottom falls out it is hard to find the footing necessary to make even the simplest of decisions.
I share these stories as an invitation. At Chrysalis Counseling for Clergy we are deeply concerned for pastors whose engagement in ministry takes its toll on the pastor themselves. If you’re struggling with burnout, with depression, with vocational identity issues, or if you are feeling like the bottom is dropping out, reach out to us. Chrysalis Counseling for Clergy is staffed by licensed therapists who understand the demands of ministry—because we are pastors ourselves.
There is hope!
The Chrysalis Counseling for Clergy Team