By David Higle
As a pastor, you know how important your emotional vitality is to ministry. Pastoral ministry requires the ability to withstand the emotional stresses of life and be “present” and empathetic to others. Emotional vitality also includes resilience, the ability to bounce back from stresses, failures, sorrow, and other hardships that invariably affect us all in life and ministry. A strong emotional core will also help undergird mental focus and energy which calls for focused attention to people and tasks over time.
Take 5 minutes to read and think about how God might be speaking to you right now about your emotional well-being . . .
Cultivating A Strong Emotional Core
How well do you know yourself? How self-aware are you in how others perceive you? Are you able to celebrate your gifts and acknowledge your limitations? Being able to truly accept who you are and how God has created you. Both your unique gifts and your limitations are central to emotional health.
Know your purpose.
Do you have a strong sense of your purpose in life? Without a clear sense of your calling, you might experience a sense of drifting or lack of clear goals to your life and ministry. Having a deep sense of calling to your ministry will help keep you steady during difficult times.
This may sound hard, but it can be a lifesaver. Every day, see if you can record at least three things for which you were grateful. Keep a record. Recalling things you are grateful for can provide perspective and balance to what is going on in the moment. Keeping perspective in ministry can make the difference between burnout and keeping your mind intact during turbulent times.
Some pastors think it is not possible to establish boundaries for oneself. But that is not true. Ministry is challenging, but even Jesus established boundaries during certain times (see Matt. 14, 13, *22-23). If Jesus needed to establish boundaries, how much more do we? There is no need for false-guilt in this area. Sensible boundaries can encourage mental health and resilience.
Accepting the need for help.
Sometimes the best move you can make is to seek the help of a qualified counselor. Your mind and emotions are vital to your health and well-being. Why not reach out today if you need to talk to someone?
For more information on these and other tips for mental health and well-being, see the short, but helpful guidance found in the following book: Gary H. Lovejoy. (2014). A Pastor’s Guide for the Shadow of Depression. Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House.
See also the following website resources for emotional well-being: