Tree standing alone in vast space/water imagry Church Assistance Program

There is an onslaught of demands and expectations that well-meaning pastors attempt to live up to. In this endeavor to please God and congregations who sometimes are more demanding than God, a pastor can exhaust his internal resources rapidly. Without “permission” to take care of himself, the pastor ignores his own needs, his wife’s needs and a slow undermining process of the self, begins. This is dangerous territory. Pastor burnout is one of many weapons the adversary uses with great proficiency. It is surprising in its simplicity but brutal in its impact. Burnout begins by encouraging us to do what we do best – minister to people – sacrificially – even at our own demise. We reason internally, “It is the thing Jesus would do,” as we minimize our own needs and justify sacrificing self and family to meet the needs of others. Nevertheless, a toll is taken as we serve in that way; subtle insidious conflict infiltrates our minds. As a pastor burns out, depression enters; sometimes desperation, self-doubt, self-condemnation; a cycle ensues. In order to meet the demands of the pulpit a pastor begins to do what he has to do. The zeal wanes, the passion for God dissipates and the calling becomes a perfunctory job. Initially the pastor may seek ways in which to obtain a quick fix for his inner turmoil and pain. This is where many clandestine addictions begin; these addictions come in many forms.

What began as a joyous, idealistic, zealous heart response to the call of God in your life when first entering into ministry has now turned to questioning, “Where is God when I need Him? Ministry has not turned out to be what I thought it would be? How can people (parishioners) be so cruel and self-serving in their demands and expectations?” “My tears are my food day and night. People ask me all day long, “Where is your God?” I will remember these things as I pour out my soul: how I used to walk with the crowd and lead it in a procession to God's house. {I sang} songs of joy and thanksgiving while crowds of people celebrated a festival” Psalm 42:2-4 (GW). The words of the Psalmist ring true for you.

“There is nothing new under the sun,” wails the writer of Ecclesiastes. “Everything is meaningless”…at least so it seems in the hearts of many pastors. When the pastor is growing weary where does he or she turn? The standard answer is, “Turn to the Lord.” If it were that simple, to find the empowerment of the Holy Spirit alone, we would not have pastors anguish in silence and in shame behind their closed parsonage doors. These pastors have been struggling in silence for many years cycling within a vicious loop using every method available from Foster’s, Celebration of Discipline to every self-help book on the market.

The CAP (Church Assistance Program) is designed for this very reason. First and foremost, our efforts support the local pastor, pastor’s wife and the ministry staff. For those who start with sincerity and zeal, there is a naivety that comes as a companion. It starts in faith and belief that God will protect us from the enemy of our soul. With that innocence we do not realize how vulnerable we are from attacks from the wicked one, who shoots arrows, “from the shadows at those whose hearts are right” (Psalm 11:2).

Most of the time, the pastor is being challenged to his core. Treacherously, what transpires is that, how he performs as a pastor is equated to who he is as a person. This is under constant attack. How he is perceived by his congregation, and how he perceives his congregation judges him is a constant source of erosion. After a while the erosion eats at the foundation and an emotional collapse ensues, depression sets in. It is very logical, when you think about it, because our “adversary, the devil,” is like a stalker, prowling around looking for someone to eat for morning snack.

Please know that you are not alone and there are resources in which you may draw strength from. If you would like someone in which to explore your thoughts, I invite you to contact me for a confidential meeting. There is a place to talk about issues that you would never share with anyone for fear of embarrassment, shame or exposure. Fourteen years of ministry experience prepared Crystal to specialize in dealing with the spiritually wounded as well as understanding the needs of pastors and their wives. Pro bono sessions can be arranged by request for pastors and their wives. This endeavor is generously supported by those who love the ekklesia, The Body of Christ. It is our desire to see the Body of Christ develop to full maturity in wisdom and strength. This can happen as we draw strength through “the joints and ligaments” which supply nourishment for our emotional and spiritual growth. This is in full recognition that Christ is the Head. “…holding fast to the Head, from Whom the entire body, supplied and knit together by means of its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God” Colossians 2:19 (AMP). We look forward to the appearance of His coming when the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our Lord and His Christ.

Encouragement Support Groups designed as Respite for those seeking Soul Rejuvenation are available during the day hours by request for all ministry staff.

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