Pastoral Wellness During COVID-19

Resilient pastors take time for self-care

For many pastors, coronavirus has either disrupted or catalyzed how they view their ministry’s purpose. While some are excited about new opportunities to advance their mission, others may be struggling with the additional burdens of shepherding from a distance.

Denny Howard, director of counseling and coaching for Full Strength Network, a non-denominational Christian clergy family serving ministry, has spoken with more than 60 pastors about how they’re coping with the new reality of coronavirus. Many pastors indicated that they’re feeling worn down and worn out, but Howard also discovered some key strategies to how resilient pastors are staying engaged and energized.

Ministry is a Marathon

There’s little doubt that ministry has been challenging during coronavirus. When speaking with pastors, Howard found that they’re busy with programming, filming videos, participating in meetings, creating curriculum, and more. Everything surrounding ministry has become more complicated, so it’s easy to ignore your need for rest. While there may be much to do, taking an approach of continuing to push forward can eventually take a toll on your wellbeing.

“The pastors who are doing well recognize this current time as a season. They realize that the credibility of the ministry God has put them over spans a long period of time,” said Howard.

Ministry isn’t marked by its lowest times - it’s marked by consistency over time. Seeking the advice of a more seasoned pastor may help you process and recognize that church ministry is a marathon. “It’s a long race, so find your best pace,” remarked Howard.

Time to Recharge

Recognizing your limits and knowing when and how to recharge are critical components of wellbeing. This can be difficult for pastors because they often want to just keep pastoring and doing the work of ministry.

Resilient pastors recognize when it’s time to take a break to recharge and refresh. This can be as simple as going on a walk or spending quality time with family. Howard found that with some pastors, months may pass before they take time to recharge. Whether you recharge every day or every month, knowing when it’s time to take a break is the first step.

Consider the following questions:

  • How are you bouncing back from disappointment?
  • Personally, how are you feeling about your marriage, family, or church?
  • What brings you resiliency, e.g., going for a long walk, and are you taking the time to do that?

These simple questions can help you take a step back and recognize the need to engage in whatever brings you rest and rejuvenation. It’s important to recognize that this technique is not just for the present time, but it can be helpful long-term as a lifestyle change.

Howard offers as an example, “It’s important to consider what you will and what you will not miss when things get back to normal.” 

Is there an aspect of this current time that is actually helping you feel rejuvenated? Think about some ways you can continue those rejuvenating activities even when you begin adjusting back to a more typical routine.

Assess Your Wellbeing

Finding time to recharge is only one aspect of a person’s overall wellbeing, although it’s a vitally important one. To help you track your progress in several key areas, Domain Assessments provides a free online resource at mylifedomains.org.

The assessment provides seven areas you can track to help you get a full picture of how you are doing:

  • Emotionally
  • Relationally
  • Intellectually
  • Physically
  • Spiritually
  • Financially
  • Mentally

Each of the seven assessments takes less than 10 minutes to complete. You can take the assessment as often as every day and it tracks your results to provide you feedback.  This supportive tool can be an effective way to help you establish a healthier perspective and new ways to engage in self-care.

For even more support and access to resources, visit fullstrength.org

Posted May 22, 2020

The information provided in this article is intended to be helpful, but it does not constitute legal advice and is not a substitute for the advice from a licensed attorney in your area. We strongly encourage you to regularly consult with a local attorney as part of your risk management program.