The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
Church leaders are usually “at the limit of their emotional and spiritual resources”, says José Hutter, theologian and pastor in Spain. A national seminar will address the challenges of Christian leadership.
According to a recent study by the Barna Institute in the USA, 75% of pastors are subjected to severe stress that causes anxiety, worry, confusion, anger, depression and fear. 57% would leave the ministry if they could do anything else.
FEELING LIKE A FAILURE
In an interview with Spain's Protestante Digital, Hutter states that it is “very necessary to talk about this”, because many times the “burnout syndrome appear.”
“Pastors feel like a failure because they notice that things do not go as they would like [...] Personal, marital, or any other kind of problems do affect pastors in their ministry”, Hutter says.
The theologian points out that the Bible gives pastors and churches ways to care for them better, in “pastoral letters like 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus.”
“We are surely making mistakes that we need to fix, so that our ministry will work better”, he concludes.
Read the interview with José Hutter.
Question. Is there a need to take care of the emotional and spiritual situation of the pastors?
Answer. Yes, it is an endemic problem in the evangelical world. Pastors today are under many pressures, on many fronts.
It may sound obvious, but a pastor is a human being. They have struggles, they make mistakes, they have their needs, and they need correction, interaction with other people.
The reality is that this does not usually work well in our churches. The pastor is often very lonely, he has no one, and in some cases, he does not even want anyone to help him with his tasks.
It is very necessary to talk about this, because some leave the ministry, they feel like a failure, or they are at the limit of their emotional and spiritual resources, and thats when the burnout syndrome appears.
Q. What are the reasons why many pastors may feel like a failure in their work?
A. It can be due to several factors. Sometimes people expect things from the pastor that he cannot achieve.
Other times, for some reason or another, the pastor ministry can become routine, so that he tries to solve everything in a natural way, when the pastorate always has a spiritual side.
Why do we pastors feel like a failure? Because we notice that things do not go as we would like: sometimes, instead of seeing the growth of the church, there are people who leave.
There may be personal problems, marital problems, or any other kind of problems, which may not affect people in other jobs. But those problems do affect the work of pastors.
These are some of the many reasons that can make a pastor feel that he is failing.
Q. Are there indications in the Bible that can help pastors to take care of themselves and the church to care for pastors?
A. There are so many indications in the Bible. As pastors, our goal should be to accompany those who God has put in our lives, in their spiritual journey. In order to do that, we must take care of ourselves.
The three pastoral letters (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) talk a lot about these issues. We are surely making mistakes that we need to fix, so that our ministry will work better.
WHO IS PASTORING THE PASTORS?
Trying to shed light on this issue, the Spanish Evangelical Alliance has organised the XV Seminary of Pastoral Theology and Psychology (May 8-11) in Tarragona (Spain). “Who is pastoring the pastors?”, is the title given on the AEE's website.
The seminar aims to be, not only a space for reflection, but also a place of encounter, fraternity and mutual support among the participants. It will include Bible expositions and talks by well-known speakers, like José Hutter, psychiatrist and author Pablo Martínez, theologian José de Segovia or the Secretary General of the AEE, Jaume Llenas, among others.
More information about the seminay here (in Spanish)