Over the years, I’ve received several phone calls from distressed Pastor’s partners.
“They’re not doing good, Dave.” has been a line I’ve heard quite a few times. And ‘not doing good’ has ranged from low motivation for the ministry, all the way to the other end of the spectrum, where the motivation to live was being questioned and almost acted upon.
Over the past few months, I’ve published a number of blog articles, including a social concern essay, all focused on the research around the mental-health of church workers. We need to know the truth.
How bad is it? Well, one research body found higher rates of PTSD in pastors than post-deployment soldiers.
Basically, the research shows that church staff and their families are in a very high-risk vocation.
Thursday 13th September is R U OK? day in Australia. This national movement encourages us all to stay connected and have meaningful conversations around wellbeing.
To those reading this from overseas, you may not know how Aussie’s greet each other. It’s friendly but seldom sincere. A: “How you goin’, mate?”
B: “Good. You?”
A: “Yeah, good thanks.”.
The idea on ‘R U OK? Day’ is to have sincere conversations. To slow down and ask the serious question – then listen, encourage action and check-in at a later date.
A couple of weeks ago my Facebook feed was full of pictures and stories around Andrew Stoecklein, a young Pastor in the US who committed suicide. And his story, although tragic and public, is not an isolated incident. It happens often – because pastoral work can be friggin’ tough work. Remember, church leaders are ‘called’, not ‘perfect’.
So my encouragement is this, if you are in connection or relationship with a pastor and their family, go ahead and find out if they are OK.
1. Ask the question. (If they don’t want to talk, don’t push them, don’t dig, let them know you care.)
2. Listen (drop your expectation, shut your mouth, don’t quote scripture, hold judgement)
3. Encourage Action (ask if you can be of help, make light suggestions. If it’s serious – suggest seeing an expert like GP or mental health specialist).
4. Check-in (stay in touch and allow your concern to be genuine.)
I’d appreciate it if you might share this little post. It may reach someone in need today.
More info at //www.ruok.org.au/