News from SCA January 2015
Greetings!

We hope and pray you have had a blessed Christmas and New Year season. We are sending you the second edition of Ministry Minute in hope that it will edify and assist you in both your personal and your ministry life.

Feel free to share Ministry Minute with other pastors and ministry leaders who would benefit from it, and encourage them to contact us. We’ll gladly add them to our email list.

We also welcome your input, including topics that might be helpful, questions you would like to ask professional Christian counselors, and any other areas of interest you might have.

God bless you in 2015!

Burnout by Doug Feil
Burnout in the Ministry World

What do you know about burnout? Many professional caregivers have experienced it to some degree, and people in ministry are particularly vulnerable. Let’s explore what it is, why ministry people are susceptible to it, and what can be done about it.

Professional literature describes burnout as a combination of three key elements:

1) Exhaustion: An exhausted minister feels worn out mentally and physically to the point he no longer wants to care for others. She becomes so mentally tired and dulled that she wants only to escape and “do nothing.”

2) Cynicism: Also called “professional disengagement,” cynicism is a loss of positive drive to care for those the minister once felt led to serve. Becoming hardened, callous and annoyed at their needs, the minister resents, avoids and detaches from them.

3) Reduced Personal Efficacy: With reduced personal efficacy a minister no longer does his job well – he no longer diligently follows through with tasks and begins to doubt himself and his skills. No longer sure she can make a difference, she loses hope.

Burnout has been shown to correlate significantly with physical problems including depression, somatic concerns, sleep disruption, fatigue, and even cardiac problems.

Ironically, the qualities required of someone called to ministry also expose the minister to burnout. Love for the Lord, joy in caring for others, passion to make a difference, and a high level of drive and motivation cause people to work hard and care wholeheartedly. They can also lead ministers to lose a proper sense of balance and margin in their lives.

What can you do about your burnout? Typical treatment is threefold:

1) Rest! This means to check out totally. The longer the burnout, the longer the rest period required. You need to sleep in, play, hang out with your family, take a vacation, read fiction books – everything that helps you “unplug.” Most workers in burnout are wound up so tight that it takes a lot to “unwind the spring.”

2) Process. After (not during!) the rest period, spend some time thinking through what happened to you, what combination of circumstances led to your burnout, and what the Lord is saying to you now.

3) Adapt. Only after steps 1 and 2, begin to ask the “now what” questions. Often people who have burned out can be restored and returned to ministry, but they need to change both internally and externally. Once a person burns out, research suggests they are at a higher risk for burnout in the future. Changes must be made or there is likely more trouble ahead!

Jesus himself called the disciples aside to rest, and God commanded all of us to take a weekly day of rest. Knowing that burnout requires more than rest, we encourage godly, caring laborers not just to recharge, but also to pursue wise change. And because we Christian counselors see so many of these people struggle with burnout, we urge you to get the help you need.

Questions and Answers

Q.  What are some resources we can use to learn more about burnout?

A.  Some helpful books include:

1) Leading on Empty (Cordeiro). A pastor who experienced burnout, the author describes his recovery and changes.  As a strong “Type A” person, he relates well to driven people. 

2) Beating Burnout (Minirth, Meier, et. al.). Great overview of burnout, a self-inventory to help with assessment, and helpful suggestions for recovery. 

3) Boundaries (Cloud and Townsend). Helpful to make changes that are often needed for ministers to prevent burn out. 

4) Margin (Swenson). Practical suggestions and discussion from a medical doctor’s perspective on building healthy margin and space in our lives for healthy balance.

Q.  Does SCA work with peoples’ insurance coverage?

A.  Yes. We work to get our staff on a wide variety of insurance panels in order to provide high quality professional counseling at an affordable cost. We also work with most Medicare plans. We decided on this policy specifically in the interest of ministry. A large insurance company even gives us preferred treatment in recognition of our excellent service to their members.

We do not, however, work with Medicaid because of regulations and requirements associated with that program.  We cannot even see a Medicaid-covered person who has other insurance (such as an adopted child) or who wants to pay us directly out-of-pocket.  Only when a third party (such as a church) pays for the sessions can we work with a Medicaid-insured person.

Pastor Care, a Ministry of SCA

SCA founded Pastor Care (PC) as a ministry in 1990. We are passionate to care for the shepherds God has raised up to minister in local congregations, in part because pastoring is in our DNA: It was a pastor who first conceived of SCA, and Mission Hills Church founded SCA in 1986. We are motivated as well by our belief that the church is God’s primary means to reach the world for Christ.

Since 1990 we have worked with hundreds of pastors, churches and denominational leaders.  Several of our staff have ministry experience in addition to their clinical training.  This creates a unique combination of expertise and firsthand understanding of pastoral ministry and its challenges.

How can we help pastors, churches and church elder boards?  We offer many services, some of which are:

Pre-hire assessment

Hiring a pastor is a huge decision and commitment on the part of the church or denomination.  The new pastor will influence hundreds of people in that church setting, most likely for years.

You will need to ensure the church is hiring spiritually-called ministers who are psychologically healthy, have solid marriages and families, and are safe for your congregants (including children).

Let us help you.  With properly signed releases, we will evaluate your pastoral candidate using a combination of psychological assessments, clinical interviews and recommendations to help church leadership make wise decisions.

A number of churches have utilized our services as a step in the process of wise hiring. We would like to work with you to hire a team of healthy, called pastors in your key ministry positions.  References are available upon request.

Treatment

We serve the church community by creating focused treatment for a variety of critical needs that pastors, ministry leaders and their families experience.  We work to stabilize and strengthen the pastors, support a healthy and balanced response to the immediate crisis, and to move forward in positive ways. We help our clients learn sound coping strategies, greater dependence on the Lord and healthy ways to relate in their marriages and families.

Through the years we have assisted pastors with issues including:

  • Marital conflicts and difficulties
  • Addictions
  • Burnout
  • Parenting challenges
  • Grief and loss
  • Interpersonal conflict with others
  • Trauma

We will go through a process that includes assessment (both clinical interviews and psychological assessments as needed), crisis stabilization and intensive treatment strategies. With our wide range of skilled therapists, we can include in our treatment team staff members with skills appropriate to the demands of the crisis and the client’s specific needs in the healing process.

We seek to partner with church and denominational leaders, spouses, and other key colleagues to coordinate care, treatment, and restoration. We adapt our treatment to the individual. We can use either a short-term intensive approach for clients with time constraints (such as pastors from out-of-town or pastors on time limited sabbaticals), or a longer, more methodical approach for clients with more flexibility (such as pastors who live locally).

We continue to experience God’s amazing healing and restoration in many pastors and their families.  It strengthens the church to see how God can forgive, heal and restore His servants, who return with a renewed ability to bless others.

Consultations

Our staff meets regularly with pastors to offer professional input on their ministries.  We provide outsider perspective along with extensive first-hand experience to assist in these consults. Areas of consultation include:

  • Case consults in difficult counseling or ministry situations
  • Interpersonal conflict resolution
  • Mediation services
  • Personal and spiritual growth and development

We welcome the opportunity to work with any pastor whose needs lie within the extensive scope of our expertise.

Training

Our staff can provide training, mentoring and skill building to pastors, leaders and even their congregations. Topics include (not limited to):

  • Working with anger
  • Recovery from trauma
  • Interpersonal skill building
  • Dealing with emotions in a healthy way
  • Team building
  • Grief and loss
  • Perinatal loss support
  • Women’s and men’s issues

We offer training to parents and staff for their work with children and adolescents. We can even help a church to build an effective lay counseling program.

Ministry Minute

Ministry Minute is a bimonthly e-letter our staff sends to pastors and ministry leaders to support and strengthen their ministry with thoughtful insight and training on important topics.  We will gladly add you to our email list to receive these e-letters.

Features of Pastor Care include:

  • Training and support
  • Free phone consultations to evaluate client needs
  • Bible-based treatment backed by clinical and ministerial experience
  • Complete confidentiality
  • Commitment of our unique staff to equip churches and congregations for growth and maximum effectiveness

Do you have questions about Pastor Care? Would you like to learn more? You can contact SCA’s executive director, Doug Feil, directly to explore your unique questions and needs. Contact Doug through his email, dougfeil@southwestcounseling.org, or by phone at (303) 730-1717 ext 219.

To sign up for Ministry Minute, please email SCA:
sca@southwestcounseling.org

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