Have you ever watched a football game and looked down at the sidelines to see the players receiving medical attention? They may be having their ankles wrapped, or ice applied to a wrist, or have someone stretching their hamstrings. They do it because the health and wellness of their body is paramount to the work they do. The lineman cannot block if his ankles are weak. The quarterback cannot throw if his wrist is swollen. The defensive back cannot cover if his hamstrings are pulled. That medical attention is what keeps them in shape to be able to do their jobs and stay on the field. The players are paid to play, but they do not stay healthy on their own! There is an entire staff of trainers paid to keep them in the game.
Ministry is a rough game. There are lots of bumps and bruises, pain, and hurts. Ministers tend to take these shots head on, violent collisions of the heart and soul when parishioners are in turmoil or inflict pain. Late night phone calls, emails, unexpected office visits—all of these can leave a pastor weary and worn down.
Clergy members, their spouses, and children often endure injuries many people cannot see. Injuries of the mind and spirit which cannot be merely fixed by applying ice, wrapping it up, or taking an aspirin. Countless pastors are playing hurt. Ministers and their family members must be cared for if they are going to survive and thrive in ministry.
This year the Schaeffer Institute of Leadership Development put out an update to its landmark 2007 research concerning the emotional and spiritual well-being of ministers in America. Among other points, the study found the following:
•54% of pastors work over 55 hours a week
•57% of pastors cannot pay their bills
•54% feel overworked, and 43% say they are overstressed
•53% feel seminary underprepared them for the work
•35% suffer from depression
•26% are overly fatigued
•28% feel spiritual malnourished
•23% feel distant from their families
Sanctuary Network exists for these ministers, the ones whom they and their families face the challenges of an enemy who despises them, a world against them, and people who are broken and need them, all the while feeling honored to do so. Our goal is to provide mentoring, care, resources, spiritual renewal, friends, and support so ministers and their family members can excel in their calling.
We will be accomplishing this in three ways:
First, we will offer monthly gatherings in the Houston area for ministers and their family members. During these times all of our attendees will be fed a good meal, have an opportunity to build friendships, be safe from competitive conversations and draining theological arguments, receive personal/professional/spiritual care, and leave with a resource in hand.
Secondly, we are establishing support groups of ministers for ministers around the Houston area each week. Sanctuary will be a safe space for ministers to come and unload burdens, talk about their struggles, and receive support and prayer. These groups are strictly confidential, and nothing said in these meetings will leave the group setting. Clergy members need to know people are there for them, understand what they are walking through and will care for them in a judgment-free manner.
Finally, members of the network will have access to partner entities providing professional services at discounted rates. These partners will include counseling centers, accountants, spiritual directors, coaches and other professional resources ready to help guide clergy and their families through tenuous steps.
Sanctuary wants to help stop the tide of ministers leaving ministry and improve the statistics showing how hard ministry can be. By working together in unity and the power of the Spirit, we can bring new life to those spreading the good news of eternal life!
If you can relate to any of the challenges included in this article or find our services intriguing, plan to be at our next monthly gathering.
If your heart is stirred for this work, please considering supporting us financially to help continue the call to give shelter and Sanctuary to ministe