Mending Ministers is an excellent resource and covers so many facets—the wellness and richness that blended and respected diversity brings to us and our congregations; intellectual wellness; financial health—all the while dedicated to keeping the passion of the pastoral calling kindled in the lives of the servant and the served.
As we work daily under the tyranny of an overfilled schedule, an overflowing email box, sermon preparation, agenda planning, strategic planning, personal study, and devotional time, and as we struggle for time slots to include an exercise program, adequate rest, recreation, and relaxation, I can almost hear the anxious cry: “I don’t have the time!” The authors make it clear that the choice to live more healthily, engage our spouse and family, and implement the needed changes is literally a matter of life and death. If we neglect to find the time to nurture wellness, we will need to find the time for the inevitable and often preventable illnesses that might have been avoided.
The authors highlight that the leading cause of disability worldwide today is mental and emotional ill health, specifically depression and anxiety. Pastors are not immune but often do not recognize the problem or the severity—and if they do, they feel uncomfortable talking about these issues and delay seeking much-needed help for fear of being thought to be weak, faithless, or a failure.
Pastors do not readily talk about abusive relationships—in the church, our homes, or our professional settings. Sometimes, because we are overextended, burned out, or even depressed, our family members may be the victims of unintended abuse by us.
Topics so relevant to the pastor’s life, family, and work are expertly, comprehensively, and empathetically addressed in Mending Pastors. Please do not give these chapters just a cursory glance—peruse them, thoughtfully digest the messages, and visit the resource websites listed throughout the book.
As a church and as individuals, we have been blessed with a wonderful grace-filled, holistic, preventive, preserving, and often healing health message. We need to make the conscious decision and choice to live more healthily, engage our spouse and family, and implement the needed changes. During the tyranny of the overfilled schedule, often forgotten by all, including the pastor, are his or her personal holistic health and well-being.
As pastors, we may question whether some of the difficulties we face in our daily work may be related to burnout. Do we even fully understand what burnout is and the various ways in which it manifests? How do we recognize it? How do we avoid it? Can we recover from it?
The relevance of this book struck me when I recalled, as a treating physician, sharing test results with a pastor sitting in my office. “Your stress EKG shows signs of inadequate blood flow to parts of your heart muscle, and this is what is causing your tiredness and shortness of breath, although you are only forty-five years old. There are more tests to run or maybe even surgery, and intentional, lifelong lifestyle changes must be made.” The pastor’s eyes widened with fear.
“I should have been paying attention—so much work—so many visits, never-ending meetings. I just did not have the time to have regular health checks, exercise, and work on my needed weight loss; now I am in danger and have no choice!” he replied.
We are holistic beings and need holistic care and maintenance—the ongoing mending of ministers. Completely whole, mended ministers being continually mended with new life in Christ—may this be your and my experience, by His grace. Maranatha!