Pastor, how are you doing?

Sean NemecekUncategorized1 Comment

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

PIR is hearing stories of worn out pastors. Through this season of Covid-19 many pastors have been overworking in order to keep their churches connected. Are you doing more than your mental, relational, and physical health can sustain? Everyone has an overly busy week now and then. However, when one busy week stretches into three or four or . . . ten overwork can become traumatic. Consider this list of trauma related stress. 

Burnout – “A state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity.” –Mayo Clinic

Burnout is what happens when your inner life with God cannot sustain your outer life for God. It’s rooted in an attempt to control what ultimately belongs to God. Anxiety over your situation or that of your church may lead you to attempt to do more than God has asked. 

Compassion Fatigue – “The physical and mental exhaustion and emotional withdrawal experienced by those who care for sick or traumatized people over an extended period of time; Apathy or indifference toward the suffering of others as the result of overexposure to tragic news stories and images and the subsequent appeals for assistance.” – Merriam-Webster

When pastors give more care than their spiritual life can sustain, mercy slowly turns to bitterness as they abuse their body, mind, and spirit. They no longer find joy in helping people, and they themselves need help. This is called compassion fatigue.

Secondary Trauma – “Indirect exposure to trauma through a firsthand account or narrative of a traumatic event.” – Psychiatric Times

There are so many stories of death, trauma, and disease right now that our whole culture is suffering from some form of secondary trauma. This type of trauma can cause us to become overwhelmed. Time to grieve the losses being experienced is important.

Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) – According to the National Center for PTSD, post-traumatic stress is “a mental health problem that some people develop after experiencing or witnessing a life-threatening event, like combat, a natural disaster, a car accident, or sexual assault.” PTS can come from being a victim or simply witnessing traumatic events.

Pastors are often on the front lines of disease and death – right behind the EMTs, doctors, and nurses. The more exposed to these things, the more likely to suffer from the trauma. 

Chronic/Complex Traumatic Stress (CTS) – A mental health problem that can develop when a person feels they cannot escape a situation in which they experience prolonged, repeated interpersonal trauma (either physical or emotional).    

America is angry right now. Angry because of injustice, angry because we are not properly handling our emotions of loss, grief, and anxiety. And when people are angry, they typically take it out on the leaders in their lives – government leaders, teachers, and pastors. 

Do any of these hit a little too close to home? PIR can help. We provide a safe space for you to process, grieve and heal. 

About The Author

Sean Nemecek

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Sean Nemecek (M.Div. Grand Rapids Theological Seminary) is the director of The Pastor’s Soul and a third-generation pastor with two decades of ministry experience. He grew up listening to pastors and their families talk about the realities of ministry. Now he wants to use this knowledge to bless the church.

One Comment on “Pastor, how are you doing?”

  1. I am tired. I am a bi vocational Pastor that has worked though this entire mess. My soul is hurting from everything that has been going on. Trying to stay in touch with all the folks in my churches ( I pastor 2 small country churches) trying to stay involved with their lives, counselling those who have been sick, the ones who are scared, and keeping a brave and hopeful face when inside I am crying my eyes out watching peoples livelihoods being torn to shreds.

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