Christian Wellness: Bibliography


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Acadia University.  “Wellness Index – Wellness Inventory.”  On-line.  Available from             http://admin.acadiau.ca/affairs/wellness/inventory.html.  Accessed 23 September   2002;

Aland, Kurt.  Synopsis of the Four Gospels:  Greek-English Edition of the Synopsis            Quattuor Evangeliorum.  Third Edition.  n.p.: United Bible Societies, 1979.

Augsburg Confession.  In The Book of Concord.  Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert,    editors.  Minneapolis:  Fortress, 2000.

Bauernfeind, Otto.  “avnapau,sw.”  In Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.   Ed.   Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey William Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich.  Grand      Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-c1976.  In Unabridged Theological Dictionary of       the New Testament. [CD-ROM]  Oak Harbor, WA:  Logos, 2000.

Bierly, Steve R.  How to Thrive as a Small-Church Pastor.  Grand Rapids:  Zondervan,    1998.

Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Peabody, Mass.:  Hendrickson,          1997.

Carr, G. Lloyd. “~lev.'”  The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.  Edited by       R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke.  Chicago:  Moody,        1980.  Vol. 2.  930-932.

Carson, D. A.  The Gospel According to John.  Leicester, England/Grand Rapids, MI:       Inter-Varsity Press/Eerdmans: 1991.

Clinebell, Howard.  Basic Types of Pastoral Care & Counselling:  Resources for the          Ministry of Healing & Growth.  Revised and enlarged edition.  Nashville:  Abingdon, 1984.

Cloud, Henry and John Townsend.  Boundaries.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1992.

Danker, Frederick William, editor.  A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and     Other Early Christian Literature [BDAG].  Third edition.  Revised and edited by Frederick William Danker.  Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Downing, Douglas and Jeffrey Clark.  Statistics:  The Easy Way.  Hauppauge, NY:            Baron’s, 1997.

Eyer, Richard C.  Pastoral Care Under the Cross:  God in the Midst of Suffering.  St.         Louis:  Concordia, 1994.

The Friberg Analytical Lexicon to the GNT. In Bibleworks 4 [CD-ROM]. Big Fork, MT:              Hermeneutika,  1999.

Harbaugh, Gary L.  Pastor as Person: Maintaining Personal Integrity in the Choices and   Challenges of Ministry.  Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984.

Hulme, William E.  Managing Stress in Ministry.  San Francisco:  Harper & Row, 1985.

Hulme, William E.  Your Pastor’s Problems:  A Guide for Ministers and Laymen.  Garden City, NY:  Doubleday, 1966.

“An Interview with Bill Hettler, M.D.” [On-line]. Available from             http://www.seekwellness.com/wellness/interviews/hettler.htm; Internet: accessed   16 December 2002.

Lenski, R. C. H.  Commentary on the New Testament:  The Interpretation of St.      Matthew’s Gospel.  Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickon, 2001.

Lobitz, Mark C.  “Christian Self-love.”   M. Div. thesis.  Concordia Lutheran Seminary,    1990.

Luther, Martin. Luther’s Works. Vol. 6.  Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 31-37. Ed.           Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann. Saint Louis:      Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1970.

Luther, Martin. Luther’s Works. Vol. 35.  Word and Sacrament I. Ed. Jaroslav Jan           Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann.  (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999, c1960) [CD-ROM].

Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod  Board for Higher Education.  Clergy Shortage Study.               [on-line.]  Available from http://higher-ed.lcms.org/pdf/clergy-shortage-study.pdf.      Internet.  Accessed 3 August 2002.

Luther’s Small Catechism:  With Explanation.  St. Louis:  Concordia, 1991.

McKinley Health Center.  “How WELLTHY Are You?”  [On-line.]  Available from             http://www.mckinley.uiuc.edu/wellness/wellu/HowWellthyAreYou.html.   Internet. Accessed 23 September 2002.

National Wellness Institute.  “TestWell:  Wellness Inventory for Adults.”  [On-line.]          Available from http://www.testwell.org/pdf/QSetSA100Sample.pdf.  Internet.       Accessed 9 October 2002.

National Wellness Institute.  “TestWell:  Wellness Inventory – Standard Edition.”  On-     line.  Available from http://www.testwell.org/pdf/QSetSA50Sample.pdf.  Internet.         Accessed 9 October 2002.

Nouwen, Henri J. M.  The Wounded Healer.  New York:  Doubleday, 1972.

Oswald, Roy M. Clergy Self-care:  Finding a Balance for Effective Ministry Bethesda,       Maryland: Alban Institute, 1991.

Paulgaard, James R.  “Survey data 2.0.”  [Excel data file].  April 2003.

Paulgaard, James R.  “Survey data 3.05.”  [Excel data file].  April 2003.

Paulgaard, James R.  “Survey data 3.23.”  [Excel data file].  April 2003.

Paulgaard, James R.  “Survey data 3.25.”  [Excel data file].  April 2003.

Paulgaard, James R.  “Survey data 5.02.”  [Excel data file].  April 2003.

Paulgaard, James R.  “Survey data 5.04.”  [Excel data file].  April 2003.

Paulgaard, James R.  “Survey data 5.04b.”  [Excel data file].  April 2003.

Paulgaard, James R.  “Survey data 9.1.”  [Excel data file].  April 2003.

Paulgaard, James R.  “Survey data 9.2.”  [Excel data file].  April 2003.

Paulgaard, James R.  “Survey data 9.3.”  [Excel data file].  April 2003.

Paulgaard, James R.  “Survey data 9.4.”  [Excel data file].  April 2003.

Paulgaard, James R.  “Survey data 9.5.”  [Excel data file].  April 2003.

Paulgaard, James R.  “Survey data 10.0.”  [Excel data file].  April 2003.

Paulgaard, James R.  “Survey Research-Part D.”  [Excel data file].  April 2003.

Paulgaard, James R.  “Survey Research-Part A-rel. to modified Welllness score”    [Excel data file].  April 2003.

Pastor A [pseud.].  Interview by author.  Transcript of tape recording.  20 January 2003.

Pastor B [pseud.].  Interview by author.  Transcipt of tape recording.  20 January 2003.

Pastor C [pseud.].  Interview by author.  Transcript of tape recording.  20 January 2003.

Pastor D [pseud.].  Interview by author.  Transcript of tape recording.  20 January 2003.

Pastor E [pseud.].  Interview by author.  Transcript of tape recording.  21 January 2003.

Pastor F [pseud.].  Interview by author.  Transcript of tape recording.  21 January 2003.

Pastor G [pseud.].  Interview by author.  Transcript of tape recording.  22 January 2003.

Pastor H [pseud.].  Interview by author.  Transcript of tape recording.  22 January 2003.

Pastor I [pseud.].  Interview by author.  Transcript of tape recording.  23 January 2003.

Pastor J [pseud.].  Interview by author.  Transcript of tape recording.  5 February 2003.

Payne, Wayne A.  & Dale B. Hahn.  Understanding Your Health. New York:  McGraw-  Hill, 2002.

Pieper, Francis. Christian Dogmatics.  Vol. 3.  St. Louis:  Concordia, 1953.

Plymouth State College.  “Personal Wellness Quiz.”  [On-line.]  Available from             http://wwwplymouth.edu/psc/wellness/quiz.htm.  Internet.  Accessed 9 October     2002.

Randall, Robert L.  Pastor and Parish:  The Psychological Core of Ecclesiastical   Conflicts.  New York:  Human Sciences Press, 1988.

Rutgers Cooperative Extension.  “Financial Fitness Quiz.”  [On-line.]  Available from             http://www.rce.rutgers.edu/money/ffquiz/default.asp.  Internet.  Accessed 23         September 2002.

St. Clair, Michael.  Object Relations and Self-psychology:  An Introduction.  Belmont,        CA:  Wadsworth, 2000.

Schlier, Heinrich.  “arne,omai.” In Theological Dictionary of the New Testament.  Ed.         Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey William Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich.  Grand      Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-c1976.  In Unabridged Theological Dictionary of       the New Testament [CD-ROM]. Oak Harbor, WA:  Logos, 2000.

Silva, Moisés.  Biblical Words and Their Meaning:  An Introduction to Lexical        Semantics.  Revised and expanded edition.  Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1994.

“The Six Dimensions of Wellness.”  [On-line.]  Available from        http://hettler.com/sixdimen.htm.  Internet.  Accessed 16 December 2002.

“The Small Catechism.”  In The Book of Concord.  Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert,             editors.  Minneapolis:  Fortress, 2000.

Stauffer, Ethelbert.  “αγαπάω, αγάπη, αγαπητός.”  In Theological Dictionary of the New    Testament.  Edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Compiled by Ronald Pitkin.  Ed.             Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey William Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich.  [CD-ROM].           Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-c1976.

The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.  Ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L.             Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke.  Chicago:  Moody, 1980.  In Bibleworks 4 [CD-      ROM].  Big Fork, MT: Hermeneutika, 1999.

University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.  “Are You Balancing the 7 Dimensions of          Wellness?”  [On-line.]  Available from http://cps.uwsp.edu/hphd/wellquiz/.              Internet.  Accessed on 9 October 2002.

Virginia Tech.  “Wellness Inventory.”  [On-line.]  Available from    http://www.vto.vt.edu/owrc/dmsn.php?did=inv.  Internet.  Accessed on 9 October       2002.

Walther, C. F. W.  Church and Ministry:  Witnesses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church    on the Question of the Church and the Ministry.  Translated by J. T. Mueller.  St.    Louis:  Concordia, 1987.

Waltke, Bruce K.  “vp;n”.”  The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament.  Edited by     R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke.  Chicago:  Moody,        1980.  Vol. 2.  587-91.

Christian Wellness: Conclusion


CONCLUSION

There are many Lutheran Church-Canada pastors who are hurting right now.  More than one out of every six pastors actively serving in Lutheran Church-Canada are experiencing burnout while another three out of six are on the verge of burnout. Among all active LCC pastors, there are probably at least seven pastors in LCC who are suffering from extreme burnout at this time.[1] There is much reason for concern over the health and welfare of LCC pastors.

But there is also reason for hope.  There is a significant link between burnout and wellness.  Pastors who have high levels of wellness have low levels of burnout, while pastors who have low levels of wellness have high levels of burnout.  Therefore, the promotion of wellness among pastors has the potential to lower the incidence of burnout and to reduce its harmful effects.  Thus, through improving the wellness of LCC pastors, it is possible to help them extend their longevity, be more effective in ministry, and experience more of the joy of serving in such a special way.  Such results could also help to mitigate the shortage of pastors by presenting more attractive role models to young men considering the ministry.  Altogether, improving the wellness of LCC pastors will advance the spread of the Gospel throughout Canada and the world.

But a Christian understanding of wellness differs greatly from a secular understanding in its motivation and goals.  Secular wellness is moved by a desire to enjoy a more successful life in this world, and aims to unlock an individual’s full potential.  But Christians are moved by what Jesus Christ has already done for them in giving them forgiveness, eternal life and salvation by grace through faith.  And Christians desire to live lives of worship toward God and loving service toward their neighbours.  A Christian understanding of wellness also takes into account the scriptural understanding of holistic personhood and the Biblical concept of the wholistic shalom wellness which God gives to believers and which pervades throughout all aspects of their lives.  Christian wellness arises from appreciation for the forgiveness, salvation and eternal life, which have been given by God through Jesus Christ.  Christian wellness involves being aware of the level of health and well-being in each dimension of life.  (To help pastors to realize their personal wellness levels, the Pastoral Wellness Self-test has been developed.  See appendix D).   Christian wellness includes willingly making choices toward improving health and well-being in each dimension of life, toward maintaining a balance between the various areas of life and toward improving overall health and well-being, so that believers may more fully worship God with their entire being, be more effective servants to their neighbours, and be better stewards of what God has given them.  Because Jesus Christ is at the centre of our Christian wellness, and is the source of Christian wellness, a Christian wellness approach offers a genuine hope for an improvement in the health and well-being of LCC pastors.

But it is also very important to be aware of factors that are drawing pastors away from the wellness that they have in Jesus Christ.  The caring, dedicated, idealistic personality of most pastors tends to interact with the demanding, spontaneous, open-ended and highly stressful nature of ministry to draw pastors away from their wellness in Jesus Christ and into law-based behaviours such as perfectionism and people-pleasing.  Specific factors such as old psychological issues that have not been dealt with, inexperience, financial stress, living in a parsonage, and the struggle to maintain a balance between work and family, are indicators that one is at a very high risk of lacking wellness.

On the basis of the Scriptures, it is clear that the road back to wellness involves a pastoral care or mentoring relationship that involves empathic love, truth and forgiveness.  This is the type of relationship that is needed to provide the love and support that is necessary to face the lies and the sin that one has been involved with, to receive the healing forgiveness that Jesus gives, and to have the inner strength and confidence that God gives one to make better choices in one’s life.

With Jesus Christ not only as the centre of Christian wellness but also as the model for Christian wellness, one can see that it is important to care for one’s own finite and frail human self.  Therefore, by restoring and maintaining Christian wellness through the process outlined above, one lives in wellness by taking charge of his own personal wellness, so that he might better serve others, and by letting go of all of the things over which he, in his inadequacy and human finitude, has no control over.  It is enough to trust in God to take care of all of such things, while one trusts in the forgiveness that is his through Jesus Christ.  As one takes charge of his own personal wellness, he then makes better choices that will enable him to improve his wellness in each dimension of his life:  emotional, vocational, social, intellectual, spiritual, physical and financial.

Out of compassion and concern for the gifts that God has given to the church, further study is needed regarding how to improve the wellness of pastors. For example, the seminaries of our church have a unique opportunity to lay a foundation of wellness even as people are being formed as pastors.  They could help students to learn about themselves, their strengths and weaknesses; equip them to function in the stressful dynamics of ministry; raise their awareness of wellness and encourage them to practice wellness, and facilitate and encourage pastoral counselling to give students the opportunity to deal with ongoing psychological issues.  Initiatives such as these during this special time of growth and development at seminary will go a long ways toward helping people enjoy higher levels of wellness during their tenure as pastors.

Other areas are also worthy of further study, such as the development of programs to improve the wellness of pastors in their first seven years of ministry.  Possible initiatives toward this end might include the facilitation of mentoring relationships and peer support during these first critical years.  Some districts may consider contracting experienced pastors to provide pastoral care to young pastors in remote areas. Another possibility is the development of programs to improve the wellness of all of the pastors of LCC.  These programs could include Bible studies and discussion papers to raise awareness about wellness, encouragement and facilitation of pastoral care or mentoring relationships, and encouragement that pastors should use the care and support programs offered.  So that pastors may have the support they need to improve their own personal wellness, it is also important to raise congregational awareness regarding the value of Christian wellness in general and pastoral Christian wellness in particular.  This could be done through Bible studies, discussion papers, and related articles in church media.  Further study on some of the factors that relate to wellness would also be helpful, such as financial compensation, residing in parsonages, and the priority a pastor gives to being a father.

Christian wellness is not a magic elixir that solves all the problems of all pastors.  But it can be a helpful approach as we reach out to hurting pastors and try to assist them, and as we try to lessen the incidence of distress and burnout.  Wellness is not a new law or a new perfectionism.  All Christians are imperfect, frail and weak human beings.  Yet, because God has shown love and grace to us, we reach out to one another with love and grace.  Christian wellness is nothing but living in the baptismal grace that God has given to us.  Christian wellness is restored and maintained by nothing other than confession and forgiveness in the context of a loving pastoral relationship.  In God’s grace and love, we already have Christian wellness.  By His grace and love, we live in Christian wellness.  Our Christian wellness will never be perfect on this side of heaven; but in the meantime, we do the best that we can, and trust everything else to God’s love and forgiveness.

+  +  +

“If one part [of the body of Christ] suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it” (1 Cor 12:26).


[1] Survey results indicate that 14.5% of active LCC pastors are suffering from  burnout, 2.6% are suffering from extreme burnout and 47.9% are bordering on burnout.  2.6% + 14.5% = 17.1% or more than one out of every six.  47.9% is nearly three out of every six.  2.6% x 275 active LCC pastors = 7.15 pastors who are suffering from extreme burnout.

Christian Wellness: Chapter 3-Restoring & Living in Christian Wellness


Chapter 3

RESTORING AND LIVING IN CHRISTIAN WELLNESS

Introduction

Having seen how various factors work together to draw pastors away from their shalom wellness in Jesus Christ, one wonders how pastors who are lacking wellness can  be restored.  Because denial is a roadblock to this restoration, it will be dealt with first, before considering the Gospel which applies in this case.  Then, an overview of 1 Kings 19 and other scriptural passages will provide a Biblical basis for a process of restoration, a process with four key components:  relationship, empathic love, truth, and forgiveness.  Examples will be given to show that Jesus Christ is not only the centre of Christian wellness, but also a model for Christian wellness.  Having considered the restoration of Christian wellness, the challenge of living in such wellness will be addressed.  Living in Christian wellness involves both “taking charge” and “letting go.”  With this understanding of what it means to live wellness, various ideas will be offered to pastors as they consider making their own choices toward wellness.

Dealing with Denial

The first step in restoring wellness for pastors is dealing with the denial that exists, both among individual pastors and corporately within congregations and in the Synod at large.  This denial is rooted in the expectation that exists among some pastors and some lay people that pastors should be totally selfless.  The imperative to deny oneself is sometimes understood as requiring a denial of one’s entire self, not just the sinful self, with the result that pastors are expected to model this self-abnegation to their congregation and their communities by not being concerned at all about their own personal needs or those of their families.  Some pastors buy into this line of thought and try to live their lives wholly for their congregation and the Church, denying their own human needs and those of their families.

This attitude is, however, idolatry, for when a pastor denies that he has human needs that need to be cared for, he is implying that he is something more than human, that he is approaching divinity.  The account in Genesis 1 and 2 makes it clear that God is the creator and we are the creatures.  He created our first parents, Adam and Eve, provided for their human needs by placing them in a garden that he had planted and gave them for food all of the seed-bearing plants and fruit trees of the earth.  He called them to work physically in the garden and care for it, and he gave them a day for rest and worship.  He knew that it was not good for Adam to be alone, so he created Eve from a part of Adam (Gen 1:26-31; 2:1-25).  Today also, God knows that he creates us as human beings with human limitations and human needs that have to be cared for.  Out of love for us, he places us in an environment where those human needs can be met.  When a pastor denies that he has these human needs, he denies that he is human and implies that he is a god.  As Harbaugh writes, “While a pastor’s theology may affirm that a person is not God, his or her practical theology, as applied to himself or herself, may support a style of service that has no room for human limitations or relaxation.”[1] When a pastor lives this kind of idolatry, there are consequences both for himself and those around him, for he will likely burn out himself and others in the congregation he is called to serve.[2]

God strongly warns against idolatry in the Ten Commandments:

You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Ex 20:4-6)

Yet this is the commandment with which pastors have the most trouble.

Congregations and denominations are guilty of this same idolatry.  They may confess an orthodox creed, but they relate to their pastors in a manner that fails to take into account those pastors’ humanity, their human limitations and their human needs.  The expectation seems to be that the pastors are beyond being human, and that would make them akin to gods.  None should treat their fellow creatures in this way.  In Revelation 22, John, after seeing all that had been revealed to him, fell at the feet of the angel who had been showing him all of these things.  But the angel said, “Do not do it!  I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book.  Worship God!” (Rev 22:8-9).  Though pastors hold a special office on behalf of the congregation, they are fellow servants of God, fellow human beings, and neighbours to the people of the congregation.  Therefore, they are to receive love and care from the congregation, the same kind of love and care that members give to themselves.  When congregations and denominations continually practice this kind of idolatry, they burn out the pastors whom God has given to them.[3]

The denial that restricts wellness can become a form of idolatry.  But there is another form of denial which facilitates poor stewardship.  In this form of denial, pastors acknowledge that they do have human needs, but then they do nothing to take care of those human needs.  In the parallel situation where a house is allowed to deteriorate by someone who has the means to maintain it, we recognize that that person is a poor steward of what God has given him.  When the engine in a car is destroyed because the owner did not have the engine oil changed regularly, it is clear that the car owner is not properly caring for his vehicle.  In the same way, pastors who do not properly take care of themselves are failing to care for a gift that is far more precious:  “my body and soul: eyes, ears, and all limbs and senses; reason and all mental faculties.”[4]

Congregations are also guilty of poor stewardship.  God has given a pastor to the congregation as a gift to equip them and to build them up in the faith.  As Paul writes in Ephesians 4:11-12, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph 4:11-12 NKJ).  When a congregation pays its pastor less than what he needs to take care of himself and his family, when it provides housing that is inadequate for the pastor and his family, or when it fails to support its pastor in his efforts to take care of himself through rest, relaxation and recreation, it fails to care properly for a gift given to it by God.

The first step in restoring wellness is for pastors to confess and repent of their idolatry and their lack of good stewardship of themselves, and for congregations to confess and repent of their idolatry and their lack of proper stewardship of their pastor.

The Gospel for Pastors

One who serves in the Office of the Public Ministry is called by God through the congregation to serve as a pastor.[5] One’s understanding of each of these three phrases–“called by God,” “through the congregation,” and “to serve as a pastor”–can either lead to self-idolatry and poor stewardship of one’s self, or it can be the foundation of wellness and effective ministry.

To be called by God to serve in a special role is an awe-inspiring matter.  However, this call is often seen as an obligation:  “God has called me to be a pastor; therefore this is what I must do!”  When this happens, the ministry is experienced as a burden which requires the denying of one’s entire self.   But Jesus has lifted our burdens from us.  His words to us are:

All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Mat 11:27-30)

Jesus promises to give us rest from our burdens.  The verb anapausis (“rest, refresh”) can refer to bodily rest, rest of the inner person, or heavenly rest, but in this case it refers to the entire saving work of Jesus Christ.[6] Jesus has borne completely our burden of trying to satisfy God through our efforts, and so, through him, we have anapausis, a genuine rest in the forgiveness of all of our sins.[7]

But what of the yoke that Jesus places upon us?  Is Jesus not just exchanging one burden for another?  R. C. H. Lenski identifies Jesus’ yoke and the rest that he gives as one and the same thing:  “Indeed, the gospel and the doctrine of faith are a yoke in that they are full of commands, all of them gospel commands, however, commands to take, to trust, to feast, to inherit, and the like.  The rest and the yoke are two pictures of the same blessing; by taking this yoke upon us we shall find rest for our souls.  Indeed, this is a yoke that rests its bearer.”[8] The yoke of Christ is rest for its bearer because the yoke is faith.  As Luther writes,

We are driven by many long and burdensome laws and works to become righteous; yet nothing comes of it. But Christ’s burden is light [Matt. 11:30] and soon produces an abundant righteousness, which consists in faith and trust and fulfils what Isaiah 10[:22] says, “A little perfection will bring a flood full of righteousness.” That [burden] is faith. It is a little thing, to which belong neither laws nor works; indeed it cuts off all laws and works, and fulfils all laws and works. Therefore there flows forth from it nothing but righteousness. For so perfect is faith that, without any other labor and law, it makes everything that man does acceptable and well pleasing to God.[9]

Jesus Christ has placed no burden upon us other than the burden to simply trust in him, and through that light burden of faith, whatever vocation we choose is pleasing to God because of Jesus Christ.  We have been freed by Jesus to be pastors or to serve in any other way.  A pastor does not have to be a pastor.  God does not demand that service from him.  Yes, a pastor has been given a divine call by God to serve in a special way.  But his salvation does not depend upon his service as a pastor.[10] Nor is a pastor closer to God than are other Christians.  As Walther states,

According to the Word of God, all believing Christians, and they only, are priests (a priestly state).  See 1 Peter 2:9; Rev. 1:6.  There is among them no difference of rank; they are all together one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:26); they are all brothers (Matt. 23:8-12).  But as in the Old Testament all sons of Aaron belonged to the priestly family and state, but only some performed the duty and service of a priest, so also in the New Testament those who perform the ministry of the Word are not for that reason priests or priests before others but merely those who minister among a priestly people.[11]

And so, if a pastor would really rather not be a pastor, or if he comes to realize that his gifts make him better suited for something else, he has the freedom to leave the ministry and go into another career.  If he desires to continue being a pastor but finds himself struggling in a ministry situation that has become a huge burden, God does not demand that he continue serving in that way.  There is a wide variety of ministry opportunities available, and pastors have the freedom to search out the type of ministry for which they are best suited.  Through Jesus Christ, all Christians have the freedom to serve God and others through the vocation in which they desire to serve, using the gifts that God has given them.  With pastors’ God-given desire and gifts as the basis for their motivation to serve in the ministry, confirmed as those desires and gifts are by the divine call from God through the congregation, the ministry becomes a wonderful privilege instead of a burdensome obligation.

The divine call to the Office of the Public Ministry comes through the congregation, and the pastor is a servant to the congregation.  For some pastors, the people of the congregation and their concerns and needs are given so much importance that everything else, including the pastor’s personal needs and those of his family, is in a far distant second place.  This congregation-centred concern can be so great that everything else in the pastor’s life is seen to have value only insofar as it works toward meeting the needs of the congregation.  When this happens, the pastor denies or subordinates his human needs.

But such a pastor has become a people-pleaser.  As Paul writes about his administration of the Gospel, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Gal 1:10).  But the opposite of being people-pleasers can be just as much of a problem for pastors when they withdraw from their congregation and isolate themselves in the church office and hide behind all of their theological books.[12] Pastors of this type decline to take care of themselves for the sake of being “faithful.”  Both groups of pastors, however, are driven by insecurity.  Insecure people-pleasing pastors seek the acceptance that they crave in the approval of others.  Insecure withdrawn pastors avoid confrontation and challenge by sticking to what is safe.

But Jesus answers all of our insecurities with an invitation to greater faith:  “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you” (Jn 14:1-2).  Jesus’ acceptance of all people is complete even before they believe in him.  As Paul says in his letter to the Romans, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).  Jesus’ assurance is that believers are always safe in him.  John records Jesus’ promise to those who follow him: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand” (Jn 10:28-29).  In the acceptance and safety given to them by Jesus Christ, pastors have the confidence to be faithful to God in their calling and in their care for themselves and their families, and involved in the lives of the people in the congregation that they serve.  As Paul writes to Pastor Timothy, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Tim 1:7).

Serving as a pastor is usually seen as involvement in God’s work in a very visible way.  But a pastor can easily fall into the trap of thinking, “If this is God’s work, and God’s standard is perfection, then I must do his work perfectly.”  Thus, a pastor becomes mired in perfectionism and neglects to take care of himself in order to do God’s work perfectly.[13] But perfectionism is a sin.  As John writes, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 Jn 1:8).  And perfectionism pulls us away from our humanness, which is often considered a burden and an obstacle to God’s work.  Yet what is often overlooked is that God has chosen to work through weakness taking on human flesh, suffering shame and humiliation on a cross.[14] And in that weakness, God performed the greatest work of salvation ever accomplished, winning a perfect forgiveness for all sins, including the sin of perfectionism.  God continued to work through the weakness of Paul, saying to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9a). To this Paul’s response was, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor 12:9b).  A theology of the cross acknowledges our helplessness and weakness, yet affirms with equal conviction that it is through our weakness and our wounds that God works to minister to others.[15] Thus, in our service as pastors, God calls us not to perfection, but back to our own humanness, and it is through our own humanness that we minister to others.[16]

As frail, fallible human beings who are nevertheless secure in the acceptance, safety and confidence that Christians have in Jesus Christ, pastors willingly and freely serve as pastors among God’s people.  In God’s love and forgiveness, pastors are free to reflect on their own personal wellness and value it for the sake of good stewardship, and for the sake of effective ministry.

A Scriptural Process for Restoring and Maintaining Wellness:  1 Kings 19

A model for restoring wellness is described in 1 Kings 19:1-18.  After the wondrous events on Mt. Carmel, Elijah was marked for death by Jezebel.  Afraid for his life, he fled into the desert near Beersheba.  He was exhausted, and wanted to die.  Elijah was lacking wellness and was burnt out.  He laid down under a broom tree and fell asleep.  After some rest, an angel of the Lord awakened Elijah and gave him some food and water.  After eating and drinking, Elijah rested some more.  A little while later, the angel awakened him again and gave him more nourishment.  After eating and drinking, Elijah traveled for forty days and nights through the desert to the mountain of God.

There God met with Elijah, not in the wind or the fire or the earthquake, but in a gentle whisper.  The Lord asked Elijah what he was doing there and Elijah responded with a lament about how he was the only one left who still followed the Lord while all of the others had turned away from God and were threatening to kill him.

God responded with the truth that there were still seven thousand in Israel who had not bowed down to Baal, and He sent Elijah back into the world, renewed, refreshed and knowing the truth, where he continued to serve God as his prophet.

There are several steps within this scriptural account which are helpful in the restoration of pastoral wellness.  First, Elijah physically exited his stressful everyday world (two pastors with a combined experience of thirty years mentioned in interviews how helpful they found it to physically get away from their parish for periods of time each year).[17] Next, he rested and he received nourishment for his body (note the importance of diet in the survey results).  Third, he was in relationship and dialogue with someone who truly loved and cared for him (“It is not good for the man to be alone” Gen 2:18), in this case, God.  Fourth, God listened while Elijah shared what was on his heart.  Fifth, God brought Elijah to an awareness of the truth.  Sixth, with that truth, God sent Elijah back out into the world.  Steps like these are used in Christian worship services, pastoral counselling sessions and spiritual retreats, and these same steps constitute a process whereby wellness may be restored to unwell pastors.

Keys for Christian Wellness

An examination of the 1 Kings 19 passage and other scriptural evidence suggests that there are four key components in restoring wellness:  relationship, empathic love, truth and forgiveness.  The relationship that restored Elijah to wellness was his relationship with God.  In God, Elijah had someone who knew him intimately, who cared about him and only wanted the best for him, who would listen to him and would dialogue with him about the truth.

Relationship

Humans were meant to be in relationship.  In Genesis 2:18a, God says, “It is not good for the man to be alone.”  Thus God was motivated to create a woman and to then join Adam and Eve together in marriage.  However, God’s statement was not only recognition of the value of a marriage relationship.  It also represents an awareness by our Creator that we were designed to be in relationship with other human beings.

The summation of the law in “the Two Great Commandments” (“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength . . . [and] love your neighbour as yourself”) reinforces the importance of relationship, both vertically with God and horizontally with our neighbour (Mk 12:30-31).[18] As the Holy Spirit creates faith in people’s hearts, they are called into relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ, and into relationship with all other believers in Christ within the Christian Church.  As Luther writes in the explanation to the Third Article of the Creed,

I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ my LORD or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me holy and kept me in the true faith, just as he calls, gathers, enlightens, and makes holy the whole Christian church on earth and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one common, true faith.[19]

And our relationship with other believers within the church is to be intimately connected, inter-connected and inter-dependent, like the relationship between the various parts of a human body.  As Paul writes in his letter to the Romans,  “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Rom 12:4-5).

Not only are humans meant to be in relationship, it is through relationship that healing and restoration takes place.  In the second letter to the Corinthians, Paul states:

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (2 Cor 5:17-20)

The reconciliation that Christians have with God through Jesus Christ, which is the basis of healing, restoration and wellness, is given to them through the message of reconciliation, the Gospel, which is transmitted from person to person by people in relationship with each other.  An evangelist, a pastor, a Christian counsellor and a lay believer are all in relationship with the people to whom they speak God’s message of reconciliation.

The Gospel message is almost always presented in the context of relationships, and these relationships are important for reinforcing the message of reconciliation.  Pieper emphasizes the values of relationships as he discusses the importance of properly distinguishing between Law and Gospel:

For thus to be kept [in a saving faith] is nothing else than, by the power of God, perpetually to distinguish between Law and Gospel, to oppose the condemnatory sentence of the Law, assailing us because of present and past sins, with the acquitting sentence of the Gospel.  Luther says:  “It is not in the power of man to shake off this frightful terror caused by the Law or any other sorrow of the heart” (St. L. IX:446).  Therefore he regards it wise for a Christian not to be alone, but to seek the companionship of a Christian brother, so that, when the reign of the Law and the reign of the Gospel begin to struggle in his heart, the Christian brother is at hand with a word of Gospel to set in motion the divine power of the Gospel against the condemnation of the Law.[20]

Thus, relationships are vital for bringing Christians back to the centre of their wellness, the reconciliation that they have with God and their fellow human beings through Jesus Christ.

Empathic Love

The second key component to a restoration of wellness is empathic love.  In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul writes, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor 13:1).  He then goes on to describe this agape avga,ph love:  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Cor 13:4-7).  This is a love that only has the best interests of the other at heart.  Stauffer makes this clear in his distinction between  agape and eros:

The specific nature of agape becomes apparent at this point. Eros is a general love of the world seeking satisfaction wherever it can. Agape is a love which makes distinctions, choosing and keeping to its object. Eros is determined by a more or less indefinite impulsion towards its object.  Agape is a free and decisive act determined by its subject.  Eros in its highest sense is used of the upward impulsion of man, of his love for the divine.  Agape ‘Agapa/n relates for the most part to the love of God, to the love of the higher lifting up the lower, elevating the lower above others. Eros seeks in others the fulfilment of its own life’s hunger.  Agape must often be translated “to show love”; it is a giving, active love on the other’s behalf.[21]

So agape is the choosing, giving love of God which lifts us up as he gives it to us.[22]

This restoring love also has the particular quality of empathy.  Self-psychologist theorist Heinz Kohut recognized the value of empathy in restoring psychological wellness.[23] Randall, who applies Kohutian theory to the ecclesiastical context, defines empathy in the following manner:

First, empathy is the capacity to think and feel oneself into the inner life of another person or of a group of persons.  In down-home language, it is the capacity to put yourself in the other’s shoes.  More formally stated, empathy is a self’s reverberating understanding and deep emotional resonance with the self of another, where the former shares for a time the psychic reality of the latter.[24]

Randall indicates that it is through empathy that we observe, understand and know the inner world of others.  It is also the basic mode by which we relate to one another.  Therefore, empathy is necessary for sustaining human life and for healthy psychological development, but also for the restoration of struggling and injured selves.  It serves not just a preparatory or adjunct function within a therapeutic relationship, whether it is pastoral care, pastoral counselling, or pastoral psychotherapy; it is the primary function.[25] Randall continues:

Selves of pastors and parishes are restored and maintained in the actual occasion of being responded to empathically, where a path of empathy is established between the self and its selfobjects.  Employing empathic observation, responding with empathic understanding, and fostering broad encompassing empathy in others constitutes the essence of the restoration of selves. Empathy is the grace of God by which the lives of struggling pastors and parishes are psychologically redeemed.[26]

Empathy is not just a concept from the realm of psychology.  For what could be more empathic than the Incarnation?  God could have continued to stand apart from His world and give the people of the world His laws and tell them of His love for them.  But He chose otherwise.  He could have saved the world in some other way, perhaps.  But He did not.  He chose to show His love for the people of the world by completely entering the world.

In becoming human, God acted as a substitute for all humans, the second Adam who successful completed what the first Adam failed to do.  But He also experienced humanness first hand.  Therefore, He understands from a human perspective what things are like for human beings.  He knows what it is like for a human to laugh and cry, to mourn and die.  And so when individual humans express the groaning of their hearts to God, He knows and understands their situation, not only from His omniscience but also from His empathy.

And if the Incarnation were not enough to reveal the Father’s empathy, He has also given his Holy Spirit to dwell within every believer.  The indwelling God knows intimately and personally what life is like for each individual Christian.  Together, the Incarnation and the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit indicate that God loves humanity with an empathic love.  And it is through this empathic love that God has saved all believers from sin, death and the devil and given them the forgiveness of sins, healing and eternal life.  This is the epitome of a restoration to wellness.

Truth

In 1 Kings 19, God listened to Elijah express his concerns, and then he shares the truth with him: “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel–all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him” (1 Kgs 19:18).  God’s truth undercut the lie that Elijah had believed and lived, that he was the only faithful Israelite left and that all the others were trying to kill him.  God’s truth was in this way instrumental in Elijah’s restoration.

In the fourth Gospel, John records these words of Jesus: “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8:31b-32 NASB).  The context indicates that Jesus is referring to the truth that the sins of every Christian are forgiven through faith in Him. But knowing the truth in any situation also sets Christians free from the lies and the lack of awareness that bind them.  And so the truth, as the remedy to sin, lies, and ignorance, is an important component in the restoration and maintenance of wellness.

The truth needs to be brought into the restorative relationship and it should be done with an empathic love.  In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul speaks of the importance of “speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:15).  For the truth to have a therapeutic value, it needs to be accepted by the one seeking restoration.  Therefore, in love, the truth should be presented in a manner which is fitting for the circumstances.  This may involve a confrontational manner, i.e. in the face of denial; or a more nurturing, supportive approach, i.e. when painful issues are being discussed.  In any case, restoration toward wellness will involve the acceptance of truth.  This is an ongoing process because various issues from one’s past history or present life will generally arise over time and require illumination from the light of God’s truth.  The Christian God is a God of truth, and so acceptance of the truth is homolegeo; it is saying the same thing as God says.[27] It is confession.

Forgiveness

As important as knowing the truth is, truth is not enough for restoration.  For the truth behind any lack of wellness will be sin, human failure by commission or omission, either on the part of the unwell pastor, on the part of the prominent people in his life, or on the part of both.  And so, in the restoration and maintenance of wellness, there is a great need for the forgiveness that Jesus gives to all believers.  Sometimes, forgiveness needs to be given by the pastor to those who have failed him.  At other times, the struggle for a pastor is to accept the forgiveness that is already his.  There may be a need for a catharsis of bottled-up emotions before the offering or reception of forgiveness can be realized.[28] But forgiveness, both in terms of its extension and its acceptance, is a critical component in the restoration and maintenance of wellness.  Isaiah refers to the healing and restorative power of forgiveness as he writes about the Suffering Servant, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isa 53:5).

The On-going Need for Relationship, Empathic Love, Truth and Forgiveness

Relationship, empathic love, truth and forgiveness are all key components in the restoration of wellness.  However, unlike the one-time provision for these needs in the account of Elijah’s restoration in 1 Kings 19, wellness usually requires these components on a continuing basis.  This is evident from the time that Jesus spent with His disciples.  His interaction with them was not a one-time event, but an on-going process that involved each of the four key components.

If the time that the disciples spent with Jesus is analogous to time spent in seminary education, then the missionary life of Paul shows us that relationship, empathic love, truth and forgiveness are important throughout pastoral ministry also.  Paul usually traveled with fellow missionaries, and he maintained close relationships with the several Christians churches that he planted.  He revealed his empathic love in his letter to Philemon, “I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints. I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints” (Phi 1:4-7).  Paul also wrote to Ephesus, emphasizing the importance of the truth spoken in love (Eph 4:15), and to the Colossian church, stressing forgiveness: “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col 3:13).

Relationship, empathic love, truth and forgiveness are all vital components in the restoration and maintenance of pastoral wellness.  They have the potential to serve together to draw pastors back to the source of their wellness, Jesus Christ.

Jesus as Our Model for Wellness

Not only is Jesus Christ the source of our wellness, He is also our model for wellness.  There are several passages in Scripture that record Jesus’ withdrawal to solitary places for prayer and rest:

“At daybreak Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them” (Luke 4:42).

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16).

“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God” (Luke 6:12).

“About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray” (Luke 9:28).

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples'” (Luke 11:1).

“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him” (Luke 22:39).

“After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone” (Mat 14:23).

“Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray” (Mat 26:36).

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).

“After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray” (Mark 6:46).

“They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray” (Mark 14:32).

Even though Jesus was true God and the only sinless human being, He still took care of Himself by taking time for rest and prayer.  Jesus is the picture of ideal humanness.  Therefore, that ideal is best approached not by denying one’s humanness, but by taking it up as Jesus did and by following His example of caring for one’s self, in one’s own finite and frail humanity.[29]

Living in Wellness

As believers are drawn back to the source of Christian wellness through a dedicated relationship with Jesus Christ, their challenge becomes one of living in the wellness that He has given them.  And this is indeed a challenge, for pastors, like the rest of the world, often focus on “doing” instead of “being.”  The drive to perform leads pastors away from their centre, which is the truth that Jesus Christ has bought them back from sin, death and the devil, has made them children of God and has given them the Holy Spirit who lives within them.  Focused on performance instead of their simple existence as forgiven children of God, pastors often go beyond their limitations and become so overtaxed and far from their centre that, when stressful situations arise, they have a crisis of identity: “Just who am I anyway?”   In focusing on performance, pastors often make decisions that work against their own personal wellness and that of their families, and maybe also the congregations that they serve.[30]

The challenge to pastors is to remember who they are and to be those persons.  They are forgiven children of God and, as God’s sons, they take charge of their own personal wellness so that they might better serve others, and they let go.  Realizing their limitations, they let go of the many things that they cannot control, and they trust in God and His grace to take care of them.[31] “Taking charge and letting go” is a paradox that is resolved when, as Harbaugh states, “we discern when to act and when to accept our inadequacy and give the problem over to God.”[32]

Therefore, as the forgiven children of God, pastors take charge and become aware of themselves.  They get to know their personal characteristics and discover how those characteristics can both help or hinder them.  Pastors take charge and remain vigilant about their own personal limits.  They remember that there is only so much they can do, and yet, it is enough.  Just as the establishment and maintenance of good fences is beneficial in neighbourly relations, so the establishment and maintenance of personal boundaries is beneficial as pastors relate with others.  Therefore, pastors take charge and make sure that they have strong boundaries between themselves and others.[33] And because personal wellness is important, both for an effective and durable ministry and because of the desire to be good stewards of all that God has given to them, pastors take charge and choose to practice wellness.  They choose to maintain some measure of balance between their work and the personal aspects of their lives, and they aim for balance between the six dimensions of wellness:  emotional, vocational, social, intellectual, spiritual and physical.

Because pastors are the forgiven children of God, they let go of many things.  They let go of all the things that are not their responsibility; they let go of all of the things over which they have no control, and they let go of all the things which they do not know.  They also acknowledge and let go of all of their shortcomings, failures and sins.  They let it all go and they trust in the forgiveness that is theirs through Jesus Christ.

Ideas for Practicing Wellness

Because of the wide variety of individuals and wellness levels, there will be much variation in how pastors approach wellness.  In the hope that they may be helpful, several ideas for wellness are offered in this section.  Pastors are encouraged to seek the approach that will work best for them and be the most beneficial to them as they seek to live in wellness.  It is possible that, as one considers various initiatives for wellness, they can become another set of laws that a pastor feels are being imposed upon him.  Should this happen, these initiatives can become a centrifugal force which pulls one away from, instead of toward, wellness in Jesus Christ.

Practicing wellness means, first of all, determining the things which one needs to let go.  These decisions can be made within the context of, and with the support of, a mentoring relationship.  It is also important to seek out a network of people who are supportive as one seeks to improve his own wellness.  This network can include family, friends, peers and people within the congregation that a pastor serves.

When there is more of a sense of hopefulness and optimism, then a pastor is able to consider various other opportunities for wellness.  Even then, the practice of Christian wellness is conducted in Christian freedom.  Believers are not required to practice Christian wellness to achieve peace with God.  Such peace is already theirs through Jesus Christ.  Nor are believers required to practice wellness in a particular manner.  Freed by such demands by the Gospel, and motivated by the grace of God, a pastor, like all other Christians, has the opportunity to pursue Christian wellness for his own sake and for the sake of those around him.

As a pastor seeks to practice Christian wellness, he may find it helpful to blend various wellness practices together into one activity.  For example, going for a walk on a nature trail with the family involves practicing both social wellness with the family and physical wellness.  It may also involve an aspect of spiritual wellness, for such activities can also be times of prayer to God .  In another example, if a pastor were to coach his daughter’s soccer team, he would be blending family time, physical exercise and community involvement altogether.[34]

Spiritual Wellness

Since Jesus Christ is the source and centre of all of our wellness, it is helpful to consider spiritual wellness first.[35] Within the Wellness measurement portion of the NPWS (Part B), some questions were intended to measure the existing level of well-being in each dimension of wellness, while other questions focused on the extent to which wellness was being actively pursued.  That is, was the survey respondent incorporating into his life behaviours that would tend to enhance his own level of wellness?

Within the Spiritual Wellness section of the questionnaire, there were four questions that involved practicing wellness, and survey data shows that all four are significantly lacking in the lives of pastors with Very Poor Wellness and significantly present in the lives of pastors with Very Good Wellness.[36] These four questions asked about the frequency with which pastors spend fifteen to twenty minutes per day in personal quiet time; incorporate spiritual practices into their everyday lives; are involved in serving others outside their role as a pastor, husband or father; and have another LCC pastor who is readily accessible and is their pastor.[37] Two of these four questions also indicated significant correlation with many other areas of wellness.

Pastors who indicated that they incorporate spiritual practices (such as prayer at various times and in various place, meditating on Bible verses, or singing or humming hymns or spiritual songs) into their everyday lives about 50% of the time or less, have significantly lower levels of physical, emotional, social, vocational, intellectual, spiritual and overall wellness. This group of pastors also showed significantly higher levels of burnout.  On the other hand, pastors who indicate that they make such practices a part of their everyday lives at least 75% of the time or more enjoy significantly higher levels of overall wellness, as well as vocational and spiritual wellness, along with lower levels of burnout.[38]

Also, pastors who indicated that they are involved about 25% of the time or less in serving others outside of their role as pastor, father and husband have lower levels of emotional, social, vocational, intellectual, spiritual and overall wellness, and higher levels of burnout.  This group is also younger, has less pastoral experience and spends less time, on average, in each of their calls.  Pastors who are involved about 50% of the time or more with serving others outside of their usual roles have more pastoral experience and higher levels of social, vocational, intellectual, spiritual and overall wellness, and enjoy lower levels of burnout.[39]

Survey results indicate that spending fifteen to twenty minutes per day in quiet time correlates not only with spiritual and overall wellness, but also with physical wellness.  Pastors who do this 50% of the time or less have lower wellness in each of the aforementioned areas, along with lower social wellness, while those who take some personal quiet time 75% of the time or more have higher physical, spiritual and overall wellness.[40]

Pastors who sometimes, usually or almost always have a readily-accessible LCC pastor as their own personal pastor have higher levels of spiritual and overall wellness, while those who seldom or never have such a relationship have lower spiritual, financial and overall wellness.  This latter group also tends to be in larger communities while the former tend to be in smaller ones.[41]

Other ideas for improving spiritual wellness include spiritual retreats and sabbaticals.  Spiritual retreats can be designed to incorporate the steps of the restorative process of 1 Kings 19: exiting one’s stressful everyday world, rest, nourishment, relationship with others who offer empathic love, dialogue, listening, truth, forgiveness, and re-entry into the world with the truth.  Conducted with groups of pastors, such retreats can also serve to strengthen peer support.  Sabbaticals can be a time of learning, refreshment and renewal for pastors, and a time of developmental growth for congregations as they learn, in the pastors’ absence, to carry a larger portion of the work of the church.[42]

Physical Wellness

For pastors with Very Poor Wellness, no significant relationship seems to exist between their wellness scores and their Body Mass Index, their alcohol consumption, or the amount of sleep that they had each night.  However, a significant relationship does exist between their wellness scores and exercise, and between their wellness and diet.[43] Therefore, if a pastor wishes to improve his physical wellness, going for regular exercise and eating healthy foods would be a good place to start.

Emotional Wellness

Emotional Wellness is very important, but it is not an area where one can “pull himself up by his boot straps.”  If a pastor is experiencing very poor wellness in this dimension, it is important for him to seek out help and support, and to find a safe context in which to deal with emotional issues.  Pastoral counselling from a Christian counsellor is often helpful to people as they begin to work through their own emotional issues.

If he is experiencing a good level of emotional wellness, then things like hobbies, intellectual challenges and other outside interests can be helpful in maintaining emotional wellness.[44]

Social Wellness

For this dimension of wellness, getting involved in the community and setting aside time to maintain close relationships have a significant relationship with wellness.  Community involvement may mean joining a service club or a sports team, while setting aside time for personal relationships can mean having a weekly date night with his wife, or a family night for the whole family.  Trying to change personal behaviours that cause problems in social situations also relates strongly to improved wellness.[45]

Vocational Wellness

There is a strong relationship between levels of wellness and responses to each of the questions in the Vocational Wellness section of the NPWS.  However, a good place to start improving wellness is to reflect on ways that one could implement and maintain a healthy balance between one’s work and the personal aspects of life.[46]

Some young pastors have indicated that rigidly adhering to a schedule that incorporates a balance of time between work and personal time has been helpful to them.  This means scheduling certain blocks of time for work and only working during those times (except when emergencies arise) and scheduling other blocks of time for family and faithfully being with one’s family during those times.[47] One pastor also suggested scheduling only about half of one’s work time in advance, because the rest will get filled up with unplanned opportunities for ministry.  By doing this, he has been able to get his planned work done and still be available for impromptu ministry moments.[48]

Intellectual Wellness

In this section of the survey, results showed that reading non-theological books, talking with others about non-theological concepts, and watching educational programs on TV do not have a significant relationship with wellness levels.  However, keeping informed about world events, being willing to learn, participating in learning events outside the church, and taking in cultural events are all related significantly to wellness.[49] Therefore, continuing education, following the news and going to plays, concerts or museums can all be an important part of a wellness program.[50]

Financial Wellness

Research has revealed a link between financial wellness and overall wellness.  Pastors with the lowest levels of financial wellness have lower levels of overall wellness and higher levels of burnout, while those with the highest levels of financial wellness have higher levels of overall wellness and lower levels of burnout.

Research has also shown a link between annual salaries and wellness: pastors who receive the lowest salaries have lower levels of wellness and higher levels of burnout.  Conversely, pastors who received the highest salaries have lower levels of burnout.  However, pastors who receive the highest salaries do not have levels of wellness that are significantly higher than pastors in general.[51]

However, a significant relationship does not exist between financial wellness and annual salaries.  The annual salaries of pastors with very poor financial wellness are not significantly different than pastors in general.  In fact, the average annual salary of the quartile of pastors with the lowest financial wellness is $247 higher than the average for all pastors ($36,574 vs. $36,327).  And the average annual salary of the quartile of pastors with the highest financial wellness is only moderately higher than the average ($38,177 vs. $36,327).[52] Low annual salaries may affect wellness because they make pastors and their families more vulnerable to financial stresses.[53] But financial wellness, while being closely related to overall wellness, is not directly related to annual salary.[54]

This is because financial wellness is not a simple measurement of the money coming into the pastor’s household.  It is a measurement of how he manages the money that he is receiving.  And that quality of management is closely related to wellness in each of the other dimensions as well as to overall wellness.  Pastors with very poor financial wellness also have lower physical, emotional and vocational wellness.  Pastors with very good financial wellness have higher levels of wellness in all of the six other dimensions of wellness.[55] Therefore, practicing financial wellness is just as important as practicing wellness in the other dimensions.

A good place to start is to develop a budget plan to manage household expenses, pay down debt, and begin a regular savings program.  In this age of credit and debit cards, there is something to be said for the psychological benefit of using cash.  When one uses cash, he experiences directly the laws of actions and consequences.  When one spends some money, he automatically realizes that he has less money left.  Using “plastic” distances one from both the pain of spending and the pleasure of saving, with the result that a sense of reward is experienced instead in the buying of more and more things, and poor financial management is fostered.

One suggestion to increase the psychological benefits of using cash is the envelope system.  At the beginning of each month, a member of the family withdraws from the bank the budgeted amounts for various areas of spending, including household and personal spending money.  These amounts are put in labelled envelopes, and the cash within each is used for its indicated purpose.  Using this system, people experience a loss as money is spent and a reward when they practice restraint.

Conclusion

Through a pastoral relationship, in which one receives empathic love, in which the truth is spoken and heard, and in which forgiveness is affirmed and apprehended, there is the great potential for a restoration to wellness.  These are the same key components that God has used to save us and keep us in our salvation, and they are valuable to us for restoration and maintenance of the shalom wellness that our Saviour has given us.  Having been restored to wellness, we live in wellness by taking charge of the things for which we are responsible and by letting go of the many things for which we are not.  In the freedom that has been given to us by Jesus Christ, we can consider various ideas for wellness and implement those that may help us to maintain balance and wholeness in our lives.


[1] Gary L. Harbaugh, Pastor as Person: Maintaining Personal Integrity in the Choices and Challenges of Ministry (Minneapolis:  Augsbury, 1984), 56 (emphasis in original).

[2] Pastor C, 11.

[3] Pastor C, 11.

[4] The Small Catechism, II.2 in The Book of Concord, Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert, ed. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000), 354.

[5] C. F. W. Walther, Church and Ministry, translated by J. T. Mueller (St. Louis:  Concordia, 1987), 22.  Thesis IV:  “The ministry is not a special or, in opposition to that of ordinary Christians, a more holy state, as was the Levitical priesthood, but it is a ministry of service.”  Thesis VI, A:  “The ministry of the Word [Predigtamt] is conferred by God through the congregation as the possessor of all ecclesiastical power, or the power of the keys, by means of its call, which God Himself has prescribed.”

[6] Otto Bauernfeind, “avnapau,w,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey William Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-c1976) vol. 1, 350, in Unabridged Theological Dictionary of the New Testament [CD-ROM] (Oak Harbor, WA:  Logos, 2000).

[7] Bauernfeind, “avna,pausij,” TDNT, vol. 1, 350 [CD-ROM].

[8] R. C. H. Lenske, Commentary on the New Testament:  The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 2001), 458.

[9]Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, vol. 35, Word and Sacrament I, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann, in Luther’s Works (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999, c1960) [CD-ROM].

[10] Augsburg Confession, IV.1-3 in The Book of Concord, Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert, ed. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000), 38-41.

[11] C. F. W. Walther, Church and Ministry:  Witnesses of the Evangelical Lutheran Church on the Question of the Church and the Ministry, translated by J. T. Mueller (St. Louis:  Concordia, 1987), 198.  “Concerning the Holy Ministry – Thesis IV” states, “The ministry is not a special or, in opposition to that of ordinary Christians, a more holy state, as was the Levitical priesthood, but it is a ministry of service.”  Cf. Apology, XXII.9 in The Book of Concord, Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert, ed. (Minneapolis:  Fortress, 2000), 246; Apology, XXIV.80 in The Book of Concord, 272.

[12] Pastor A, 20.

[13] Pastor C, 3.

[14] 1 Corinthians 1:27, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”  2 Corinthians 13:4, “For to be sure, he was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him to serve you.”

[15] Richard C. Eyer, Pastoral Care Under the Cross:  God in the Midst of Suffering (St. Louis:  Concordia, 1994), 33.  Cf. 24-33.  Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Wounded Healer (New York:  Doubleday, 1972), 96.

[16] Harbaugh, 60.

[17] Pastor E, 2; Pastor I, 9.

[18] Cf. Matthew 22:34-40; Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Leviticus 19:18; Luther’s Small Catechism:  With Explanation (St. Louis:  Concordia, 1991), 54.

[19] The Small Catechism, II.6 in TheBook of Concord, Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert, ed. (Minneapolis:  Fortress, 2000), 355-6.

[20] Pieper, vol. 3, 242.

[21] “αγαπάω, αγάπη, αγαπητός,” Ethelbert Stauffer, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vols. 5-9, edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 compiled by Ronald Pitkin., ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey William Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-c1976) [CD-ROM]; vol. 1, 37.

[22] Not all scholars are agreed that ‘aga,ph should be considered the highest form of love.  Cf.  D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John (Leicester, England/Grand Rapids, MI:  Inter-Varsity Press/Eerdmans: 1991), 676.  Carson argues that, in a comparison of ‘aga,ph and file,w, such a distinction between these two forms of love cannot be maintained on the basis of their usage in the LXX or in the Gospel of John.  Furthermore, he indicates that ‘aga,ph began to become the more popular term for love in about the fourth century B.C. as file,w began to take on the meaning of “kiss.”  Cf. also Moisés Silva, Biblical Words and Their Meaning:  An Introduction to Lexical Semantics, revised and expanded edition (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1994), 96.

[23] Michael St. Clair, Object Relations and Self-psychology:  An Introduction (Belmont, CA:  Wadsworth, 2000), 152.

[24] Robert L. Randall,  Pastor and Parish:  The Psychological Core of Ecclesiastical Conflicts (New York:  Human Sciences Press, 1988), 139.

[25] Randall, 139-141.

[26] Randall, 141 (emphasis in original).

[27] “o”mologe,w,” Frederick W. Danker, , A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, third edition, revised and edited by Frederick William Danker (Chicago:  University of Chicago, 2000), 708.  “To share a common view or be of common mind about a matter, agree; . . . to concede that something is factual or true, grant, admit, confess.”

[28] Howard Clinebell, Basic Types of Pastoral Care & Counselling:  Resources for the Ministry of Healing & Growth, revised and enlarged edition (Nashville:  Abingdon, 1984), 74.

[29] Cf. Pastor J [pseud.], interview by author, transcript of tape recording, 5 February 2003, 15-16, regarding God’s great expression of grace in using weak and inadequate servants to be his voice in the world.

[30] Harbaugh, 59.

[31] Harbaugh, 59-61.  Cf. Pastor A, 12-13, about the importance of recognizing that the pastor has personal responsibility for his own wellness.

[32] Harbaugh, 60.

[33] Pastor C, 9. For more information about boundaries, cf. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, Boundaries (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan, 1992).

[34] Pastor A, 2, 21.

[35] Pastor J, 16.  “Survey Data 2.0.”  Results from the NPWS produced the following correlations between the scores for each of the various dimensions and the modified Wellness-Financial scores:                                                                                                                                                      Dimension                   Correlation to mWF score                                                                   Vocational                               0.746                                                                                       Social                                      0.713                                                                           Emotional                                0.706                                                                                       Spiritual                                   0.700                                                                           Financial                                 0.662                                                                           Intellectual                              0.637                                                                           Physical                                   0.507

[36] “Survey Data 5.04.”

[37] Questions 59 (“I spend 15 to 20 minutes in quiet time”), 60 (“I incorporate spiritual practice(s) into my everyday life of work, family and relationships”), 61 (“I am involved in serving others outside of my role as a pastor, husband or father”), and 62 (“I have another LCC pastor as my pastor and he is readily accessible to me”) of the NPWS.  See appendix A for a copy of the survey.

[38] James R. Paulgaard, “Survey data 9.2” [Excel data file], April 2003. Pastors who incorporate spiritual practices into their everyday lives 50% of the time or less do not have levels of financial wellness that are significantly lower than pastors in general.  Pastors who incorporate spiritual practices into their everyday lives 75% of the time or more do not have levels of physical, emotional, social, intellectual, or financial wellness that are significantly higher than pastors in general.

[39] James R. Paulgaard, “Survey data 9.3” [Excel data file], April 2003.

[40] James R. Paulgaard, “Survey data 9.1” [Excel data file], April 2003.

[41] James R. Paulgaard, “Survey data 9.4” [Excel data file], April 2003.

[42] Pastor J, 9-10; Pastor D, 15; Pastor I, 10; Oswald, 112, 125-7.

[43] “Survey data 2.0.”  The Body Mass Index question was retained in the Pastoral Wellness Self-test because of health risks associated with excess body fat (Payne and Hahn, 165).  Regarding alcohol consumption, the National Institute on Alcohol and Alcoholism defines moderate drinking, the upper limit of alcohol that can be consumed without causing problems for oneself or for society, as two drinks per day for a man and one drink per day for a woman (Payne and Hahn, 248).  The question on alcohol consumption was retained because of the potential health risks from excessive alcohol consumption.  The question regarding sleep was retained in the Pastoral Wellness Self-test because getting sufficient sleep is important to health (Payne and Hahn, 109).

[44] Pastor B, 7; Pastor E, 2; Pastor F [pseudo.], interview by author, transcript of tape recording, 21 January 2003, 3.

[45] “Survey data 5.04.”  Results from questions 36 (“I make a conscious effort to change those behaviours that cause problems in my interactions with others”), 38 (“I get involved in community events”) and 39 (“I set aside time each week to maintain my close relationships”) of the NPWS indicate that pastors with Very Poor Wellness score significantly lower in each of these areas, while pastors with Very Good Wellness score significantly higher in each of these areas than do pastors in general.  Cf. Pastor B, 11-13, about the importance of community involvement.

[46] “Survey data 5.04.”  The questions showing the highest degree of significance in the Vocational Wellness section of the survey, both for pastors with Very Poor Wellness and those with Very Good Wellness, were questions 45 (“I am able to maintain a healthy balance between work and the other aspects of my life such as play and family”) and 48 (“My work has a positive impact upon the other aspects of my life and well-being”).  Pastors with Very Poor Wellness scored lower on these questions, while those with Very Good Wellness scored higher.

[47] Pastor A, 5; Pastor H, 1, 6-8.

[48] Pastor A, 5, 10.

[49] James R. Paulgaard, “Survey data 10.0” [Excel data file], April 2003. Among pastors with Very Good or Very Poor Wellness, the average responses to questions 49 (“How many non-theological books have you read in the past year?”), 50 (“I feel comfortable talking with other people about non-theological intellectual ideas and concepts”) and 51 (“I watch non-theological educational programs on TV”) were not significantly different from pastors in general.  With question 49, because responses indicate a relationship with wellness (pastors with Very Poor Wellness showed below average scores on this question and pastors with Very Good Wellness showed above average scores on this question), this question was retained in Pastoral Wellness Self-test tool, even though the relationship is not strong enough to meet a level of significance of five percent.  Questions 50 and 51 were dropped from the Pastoral Wellness Self-test tool because the relationship between responses to these questions and wellness was weak and because pastors with Very Poor Wellness averaged higher scores than pastors in general on these questions (see appendix B).

[50] Pastor F, 2-3, 10.

[51] James R. Paulgaard, “Survey data 3.25” [Excel data file], April 2003.

[52] James R. Paulgaard, “Survey data 9.5” [Excel data file], April 2003.

[53] Pastor G, 9.

[54] “Survey data 9.5.”

[55] “Survey data 9.5.”

Christian Wellness: Chapter 2-What is contributing to a lack of wellness?


Chapter 2

WHAT IS CONTRIBUTING TO A LACK OF WELLNESS AMONG LCC PASTORS?

Introduction

Having established that there is a negative correlation between burnout and wellness, the next step is to determine the factors that contribute to a lack of wellness among LCC pastors.  To establish some criteria for measuring wellness, the NPWS results were sorted according to wellness levels and divided into four groups that approximately correspond to the four levels of CBI burnout scores.[1] Using this methodology, 8.5% of LCC pastors are found to have Very Poor Wellness, 23.9% to have Poor Wellness, 29.1% to have Moderate Wellness, and only 38.5% of LCC pastors to have Very Good Wellness.  But why are the workers in God’s kingdom experiencing such a lack of wellness?  In this chapter, it will be shown that pastors’ personalities combine with the stressful nature of ministry to draw pastors away from wellness.

The Pastoral Personality

Pastors tend to have personality characteristics which draw them toward ministry and are helpful in such a vocation.  However, these same characteristics have the potential to interact with the stressful aspects of ministry to draw pastors away from their own wellness in Jesus Christ.  Gary L. Harbaugh indicates that pastors tend to be “idealistic, moral, work-orientated, responsible men . . .  who are responsive to the needs of others.”[2] They are usually ambivalent about authority. They are leaders, but they can be dependent on what others think and feel, which creates potential for dependence-independence conflicts as they pastor their congregation.  They like things planned and ordered rather than spontaneous.  While being “people orientated, they seem to have difficulty accepting their own humanity.  They tend towards perfectionism, with its unrelenting demand on the self.  They tend not to take care of themselves physically.”[3] Steve R. Bierly writes,

Small-churchaholics [pastors of small churches who are consumed by and addicted to their work] often function as practical gnostics.  They act as if they believe that, as long as their souls are all right with God, they can abuse their bodies all they want and it won’t affect them.  So they stay out five to seven nights a week doing “the work of the Lord.”  They gulp down all their meals on the run.  They never take a day off because the ministry is just “too important.”  The most exercise they ever get is putting their reference books back on the shelves or standing behind the pulpit for an hour on Sunday mornings.  And they wonder why they suffer from breakdowns and burnouts.[4]

Pastors also struggle with trying to control their own emotions, especially those which are perceived as negative, such as anger and sexual feelings.  They are very concerned with their own image before others, and they tend to want to be in control of all things. [5]

There are three personality traits which are common among pastors.  Pastors tend to have an obsessive-compulsive personality trait, often struggling with obsessive thoughts and being compulsive in their actions, doing certain things over and over again.  They tend to have a narcissistic personality trait, which is a strength in that it enables them to get up before people and preach and teach but it can be a weakness in that it draws them in toward themselves.  This can lead to struggles when pastors feel that they are not being appreciated.  The third common personality trait among pastors is the aforementioned tendency to be idealistic.  This is a strength when it leads pastors to new challenges, but it can also be a pitfall when pastors whose ideal expectations are not met begin to feel as though nobody understands them.[6] These pastoral personality traits means that pastors are often gifted with just the personality that they need to be caring, idealistic, and hard-working servants of God’s people.  But it also means that pastors are also set up to be drawn away from their own personal wellness by the nature of the ministry in which they serve.  As pastors struggle under the law-oriented characteristics of their own personality traits–perfectionism, control and being task-oriented–they are led towards crises in ministry and burnout.[7]

The Nature of Ministry

Ministry is, by nature, a very stressful vocation.  Bierly describes some of the challenges arising from the nature of ministry.  First, ministry tends to isolate pastors from other people, for people tend to treat pastors differently than others and act differently around them as well.  Also, pastors are usually outsiders in the congregations and communities in which they serve.[8] Together, these two factors serve to isolate pastors, meaning that they often lack the supportive relationships they need, which are in turn a significant factor in wellness.[9] Second, pastors are expected to act differently than other people and, in this way, the ministry puts pressure on pastors to give up their own personal identity.  Third, the ministry often gives pastors inaccurate feedback.  For some people, pastors are as close to perfection as one can get on earth while to others they are incompetent, bumbling troublemakers.  The lack of accurate feedback makes it hard for pastors to learn from feedback, and they experience trouble whichever of these two big lies they believe.  Fourth, as they minister to others and deal with their parishoners’ challenges, problems and concerns, their own old wounds can be opened up again and again.  Fifth, ministry also exposes pastors to great temptations which, even when only entertained cognitively and not acted upon, leave pastors feeling guilty and ashamed.  Sixth, as they deal with sin and death, pastors are brought by the ministry face-to-face with evil and its strong presence in this world.  And finally, the busy-ness of ministry can squeeze pastors’ devotional and prayer life right out of their schedule.  This final factor, together with the common presumption that pastors serve God as a profession, creates a situation in which their personal spiritual life can seem like a job.  Together, these latter two aspects of ministry encourage alienation between the pastor and God.[10] All of these negative features of ministry tend to cut pastors off from resources that could help them and they tend to impose additional pressures that pastors would not otherwise face, thereby making the stress of ministry greater and harder to handle.

Harbaugh defines stress as “a (w)holistic reaction of a person to frustration, conflict, and/or pressure.”[11] Stress is, to a degree, beneficial and necessary.  But excess stress, or high stress over a long period of time, can have a negative impact on the whole person and lead to physical, mental and emotional problems.[12] The physical response to distress can be deadly.  As Harbaugh says, “No pastor can function at top speed forever.  As a physical person, the pastor has a limit.  When that limit is exceeded regularly, there are predictable consequences.  The weakest link in our body system starts to show strain.  In time, there may be irreversible physical changes leading to death.”[13] Walter E. Hulme, in Managing Stress in Ministry indicates that stress is either a direct or indirect factor in several leading causes of death in American society, including such as heart disease, lung ailments, cancer, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide.[14]

The mental response of pastors to stress is like their physical response.  At first, there is an increase in acuity and resourcefulness and then gradually a decline into disorganization.  As pastors become more disorientated by stress, the way that they see the world changes; it seems to close in on them.  Pastors usually respond by developing what could be called “tunnel vision”; they begin to see the world in a more confined and rigid way.  This, in turn, means that they are less flexible.[15]

There is, along with a physical and a mental reaction to stress, an emotional reaction.  Because stress is usually connected with change and loss, the emotional response is usually similar to that associated with grief:  shock, denial, anger and despair.  This emotional response can lead to further complications.  For example, if the anger experienced is turned inward, it can lead to depression.  Also, it is important to note that stress can result in emotional overactivity or emotional underactivity.[16]

Stress can come about because of major life changes.  Such changes result in stress because change of any kind involves loss.  When the losses, whether actual or perceived, become significant, a crisis is experienced.  The degree to which a pastor successfully handles a particular stressor depends upon the combination of  the pastor’s personality, the nature of the stressor, and the pastor’s personal and professional life situation.[17]

The Interaction of the Pastoral Personality with the Stressful Nature of Ministry

Within pastoral ministry, the primary sources of stress are conflict, frustration and pressure, and the stress from these sources can be exacerbated by the personality of the pastor.  Conflict is created when a choice is necessary between two goals or needs.  A common conflict among pastors arises in connection with the need to please and be accepted.  A pastor who is married and has children and is driven by this need, has to make a choice between pleasing the congregation that he serves or pleasing his family.  Because of this conflict, he experiences stress.[18]

A second source of stress is frustration, which is usually brought on by the limitations of time and space.  Stress may arise from the frustration that a pastor feels when it seems like there is never enough time.  Stress may also arise from the limitations of the environment, either from being confined by too little space, or by being in a space that is too expansive to effectively manage.[19] Pastoral personality can be a catalyst toward frustration when, as is often a tendency, pastors want to be in control of all things.  Ministry is by nature open-ended, and control is difficult to achieve.  But some pastors may respond to this difficulty by micro-managing everything in the congregation resulting in their being overcommitted, overextended and frustrated.[20] The limitations of time and space will also collide with the perfectionism of pastors.  There will never be enough time to do things to perfection, and the limitations of space will always be a restriction.  This frustration can also result in guilt when pastors fail to live up to their own expectations. [21]

A third source of stress, along with conflict and frustration, is pressure, that is, the pressure to work faster or harder.  This pressure may arise from the pastor’s perception of expectations from the congregation or the district.  The pastor perceives that the congregation or the district expect certain tasks of him, and then he feels pressure to work harder to meet those expectations.[22] Pressure can also arise from the idealized self-expectations of the pastor and lead to stress.  And idealized self-expectations have the potential to result in a crisis when these self-expectations are not met and the pastor feels let down.  Things can even progress to the point where the pastor slips into depression as a result of failed self-expectations.[23]

The stressful side of ministry was indicated in the NPWS results. The factors which were most frequently mentioned by pastors as hindering their wellness in any of its various dimensions are:

1.      Time constraints/lack of time/time pressures

2.      Heavy work load/busy-ness

3.      Family concerns

4.      The struggle to prioritize time/tasks

5.      Lack of exercise

6.      Time spent in church work/lack of time off from work

7.      Insufficient income from congregation/low salary/unstable income

8.      Lack of discipline/laziness

9.      Lack of energy/fatigue/tiredness/exhaustion

10.  The negative effects of my work schedule[24]

Clearly, the stress that a pastor faces in the ministry–the heavy workload, the time constraints, the expectations from without and within, the frustration, pressure and internal conflict-all of which are often compounded by his own personality, is significant.  However, there are special circumstances which increase these stresses and put pastors at high risk for experiencing a lack of wellness.

Pastors at Risk

Inexperienced Pastors

Research has shown that there is a significant link between pastoral experience and wellness.  Of all the biographical factors, experience was shown to have the highest correlation with wellness.

The Top Eight Biographical Factors in Terms of Co-relating with Wellness[25]

Question #       Description                                                                              r(Qx,mWF)

3               Years served as a pastor                                                           0.351

4               Average stay in each call                                                         0.346

2               Age                                                                                          0.285

18              Housing                                                                                   -0.280

17d            Ranking of “being a father to your children”                           0.259

7               Combined baptized membership of congregation(s) served     0.248

15              Wife works outside the home                                                   0.190

19              Annual salary                                                                            0.165

Among pastors with Very Good Wellness (mWF score >27.558), the average amount of pastoral experience is significantly more than pastors in general (20.678 vs. 15.889 years).  Pastors in this group are also older (50.378 vs. 46.222 years); they stay in each of their calls on average longer (9.688 vs. 6.970 years); they rank “being a father” lower than do pastors on average; and they are paid more in salary ($38,527 vs. $36,327 per annum w/o housing). They also have lower levels of burnout, and they are more likely to own their own home.[26]

However, among pastors with Very Poor Wellness, the level of experience was not significantly lower than the average for all pastors.  This is an indication that this low level of wellness is not confined to inexperienced pastors, for it occurs in pastors who are from 32 to 64 years of age and who have between 1 and 27 years of experience.[27]

The research does indicate, however, that pastors with seven years of experience or less average higher levels of burn-out and lower levels of wellness.  They are also younger (34.310 vs. 46.222 years); they have less experience (3.086 vs. 6.970 years); they stay in each call for shorter periods (2.500 vs. 6.970 years); they are paid significantly less salary ($31,351 vs. $36,327 w/o housing); they rank “being a father” higher than do pastors in general, and they serve parishes smaller than the average (250 vs. 321 baptized members).  They are also more likely to be serving a multiple-point parish, to be living in smaller communities than most pastors, to be working fewer evenings and to be home more evenings with their families, and to be living in parsonages.  They also have significantly lower levels of physical, emotional, social and vocational wellness. [28]

There is a convergence of factors in the lives of inexperienced pastors.  On the basis of logic alone, one would expect that they would be younger, and it follows that they have spent less time in each call, for several of them may still be in their first call.  On the basis of general observations within the church, one may note that less experienced pastors tend to be in smaller parishes, with multiple points, and that they tend to receive lower salaries.  One could assume that they are more likely to have young children at home and therefore are more likely to place a greater importance on their fatherhood.  But how does one sort out these various factors to come to an understanding of the causes of the low levels of wellness among inexperienced pastors?  It is the position of this author that  life-change stress due to the transition from seminary to the parish, further stress due to a lack of experience during the first few years of ministry, financial stress, and the struggle to maintain a balance between work and family, all contribute to the lack of wellness among pastors with less experience.

Stress Experienced in the Transition from Seminary to the Parish and in the First Few Years of Ministry

Newly-minted pastors experience very high levels of stress during their transition from seminary to the parish.  According to the “Life Changes For Clergy” scale developed by T. H. Holmes and R. H. Rahe and modified by Roy M. Oswald, even pastors entering the ministry who experience no additional stress other than the transition from seminary to the parish, will experience “very serious” levels of stress, which can easily climb to “alarming” levels of stress with some added life-change events.[29] Not only are new pastors facing high levels of stress because of life changes, they are immersed in a challenging work context where they face numerous new situations without the benefit of past experience and where they are typically geographically distant from fellow pastors who could help them.[30]

As if all of this were not enough, pastors who are new to the ministry are struggling to develop a pastoral identity.  Bierly writes,

A wise older pastor took me aside when I was just starting out in the pastorate and told me he knew what the most important task was that I would have to accomplish in my first five years of ministry.  If I was expecting to hear, “Develop a devotional life,” or “Become a real people person,” or “Run annual stewardship campaigns,” or “Get your congregation excited about evangelism,” I was to be disappointed.  Instead, he told me, “The most important thing you’ll do in the first five years is to discover who Steve Bierly is as a pastor.”[31]

Both congregations and pastors have pre-conceived ideas of what a pastor is supposed to be, and the ministry is “hard enough without adding the burden of constantly trying to be something or someone you aren’t.  Those who try to carry that extra weight wind up with ulcers, migraines, and bouts with depression.”[32] The struggle to develop one’s own pastoral identity is both internal and external.  The internal struggle is being able to get to a point where one feels comfortable being himself within the pastoral role.  The external struggle results when one is placed into a congregation that does not want to have as their pastor the kind of person that one is. Bierly’s encouragement is that a pastor remove the pastor mask that he is wearing, be himself and not be concerned about the congregation’s reaction.  Either way, things will be better for the pastor.  If the congregation accepts him as he is, he has a home.  If the congregation rejects him, then he has the opportunity to pray for another call to a place that will accept him as the pastor that he is.[33] The challenge for a young pastor is that while he is in the midst of this struggle, he probably does not have the awareness and the confidence that he needs to face these difficulties.

The high levels of transitional stress faced by new pastors combine with their struggle to develop their personal pastoral identity and their lack of experience to mean that pastors with seven years of experience or less are very likely to be pulled away from the wellness that is theirs in Jesus Christ and consequently suffer from a lack of wellness-and likely burnout as well.[34]

Financial Stress

Stress due to low levels of financial income is a second important factor among pastors with less experience.  One pastor spoke of having conversations with his wife about the realization that they did not have enough money to make it to the end of the month, and about the difficulty of buying a starter home in a strong real estate market on a pastor’s salary.[35] Having inadequate income coming into the pastor’s household to take care of his needs and his family’s needs causes additional stress on the pastor.  Pastors with Very Poor Wellness are more likely to cite high prices, increased costs of living, and high taxes as factors that hinder them in their wellness.  This same group of pastors also indicate student loan debt as a significant hindering factor.[36] Conversely, pastors with Very Good Wellness are significantly less likely to name increasing costs of living or student loan debt as factors that hinder them in their wellness.[37] Research has also shown that the 25% of pastors who receive the lowest salaries (this group earns less than $32,000 annually without housing allowance) have significantly lower levels of wellness.[38] Therefore, the lower salaries paid to pastors with less experience contribute significantly to a lack of wellness.

The Struggle to Maintain a Balance between Work and Family

As part of the NPWS, pastors were asked to rank the following items from one to four in order of importance with a rank of one indicating the item that was most important to them:  “being a husband to your wife,” “serving your congregation,” “being the child of God that Christ has made you,” and “being a father to your children.”  The level at which they ranked “being a father” had a significant relationship to wellness.  As mentioned above, pastors with Very Good Wellness ranked this factor significantly lower than did pastors on average, while inexperienced pastors ranked it significantly higher.  Additional research has shown that pastors who ranked “being a father” number one have significantly lower levels of wellness and higher levels of burnout.[39]

There is, however, other information to consider.  The group of pastors who ranked “being a father” number one ranked it above both “being a husband to your wife” and “being the child of God that Christ has made you,” roles which are usually considered to be higher priorities than “being a father.”  Such an inversion of priorities may be an indication that there are other issues, such a marital or spiritual issues, which are lacking resolution and contribute to low levels of wellness.  However, deducing a firm conclusion regarding the specific reasons that ranking fatherhood number one contributes to a lack of wellness is beyond the scope of this thesis.  Further research is required in this area to determine why the ranking of fatherhood has a significant relationship to wellness.

Yet it can be said that pastors are often pulled in two different directions-their family on the one hand and their work on the other.  They may feel called to both, and also enjoy both aspects of their lives, but there is a tension that exists between the two, and it is difficult for someone who is new to the ministry to work out a healthy balance between the two. This struggle is probably most intense within pastors who have young children at home.  But there is an additional factor to consider as well.

In recent years, the spousal roles for men and women have changed and there is, among the younger generation, an expectation that fathers will play a larger role in the life of the family than was the case previously.  This can result in inter-generational conflict within the church, as older pastors and congregational members expect younger pastors to “give 100%” of themselves to the church, while the expectation of the younger pastors is that they are going to give less of themselves to the church and more of themselves to their family.  They are just as busy as were pastors in the past, but their time is divided up differently.  But this inter-generational conflict also impacts the younger pastors’ wellness when they do not have the support they need from their congregations and their fellow pastors to do the things that they need to do to take care of themselves and their families and when they meet resistance in their efforts to improve the wellness of their families and their own selves. [40] Thus, the struggle to maintain a healthy balance between work and family and generational differences regarding the nature of that balance have the potential to contribute negatively toward pastoral wellness.

Pastors With Unresolved Psychological Issues

One particular branch of psychology, self-psychology, and particularly the work of Heinz Kohut, a prominent theorist within the field, has a way of explaining how old psychological wounds that have not been dealt with have the potential to draw people away from wellness.  According to Kohut, each person has three basic psychological needs throughout life:  the need for twinship (to have someone in our lives who is a lot like we are), the need for idealization (having someone or something to look up to and having a close association with them), and the need for mirroring (to have someone give us positive affirmation and support).[41] During the developmental years, the satisfaction of having these needs met combines with a degree of frustration in not having them met and results in the proper formation of one’s internal psychic structure.  Having someone, like a father, to look up to enables a person to develop ideals and standards which can then be worked towards in adulthood.  Having someone provide positive affirmation, or mirroring, during the developmental years enables one to develop the self-confidence and self-esteem that are necessary for successful adulthood.  Having someone who resembles oneself in significant ways helps to develop a sense of being normal and connected with others, which enables one to develop and maintain peer relationships.[42]

It is theorized that if, during the developmental years, there is a severe lack of twinship, of an ideal to look up to, or of adequate mirroring, then a hunger develops in that area.  A young boy who does not get adequate mirroring as a child will experience an inordinate hunger for mirroring as an adult.  A youngster who lacks an ideal figure to look up to and be close to as a child will later feel an extraordinary hunger to have those individuals and groups with whom he is in relationship to be the very best, and to be connected to the very best.  A child who does not experience people around her who are “the same” as she is will be hungry as an adult to have people around her who are very much the same as she is. For the individuals who have these hungers, meeting them is very important, for these individuals are very vulnerable in these areas, and failure to meet these hungers leads to a lack of functional harmony, internal cohesion, and firm self-esteem.  This deteriorated state is often referred to as fragmentation. [43]

When a pastor has one of these archaic hungers, the way that he relates to everyone around him is affected.  It is important to remember that everyone, even as an adult, has needs for mirroring, idealization and twinship.  We need people to give us complements and affirmation; we need people and ideals to look up to, and we need to have friends.  And for each of us, one of these three needs is somewhat stronger than the others.  But for someone with a hunger that is rooted in a deficient supply of one of these needs during his or her developmental years, that particular hunger is much stronger than it would be otherwise.  It may even dominate that person’s life and threaten him or her with fragmentation.  When the unrealistic expectations of such a person are not met, he may respond with an insatiable rage known as “narcissistic rage,” or he may withdraw.[44] The person with an archaic hunger lacks an internal sense of self-esteem, self-assurance and belonging, and he or she is therefore dependent upon the outside world for a sense of personal cohesion.  A pastor with an archaic hunger for mirroring, for example, may constantly seek compliments on his preaching and teaching skills.  A pastor with an archaic hunger for idealizing may expect his congregation to be perfect. A pastor with an archaic hunger for twinship may demand that others think, act and believe just as he does.[45] Pastors with archaic hungers exhibit symptoms such as those described by Robert L. Randall:

Vulnerable self-esteem; feelings of emptiness, joylessness, meaninglessness, lack of initiative and/or hyperexcitability; a variety of sexual, perverse activities; a diffused sensitivity to people; hypochondriasis.  These arise because the person lacks the development of solid, internal self-structures needed to:  regulate self-esteem when injured; infuse personal goals and ideals with energy and hope; utilize what selfobject support is offered; and channel the impulses and drives of the body.[46]

Pastors who have archaic psychological hungers that have not been dealt with typically have difficulty in relating to others and functioning within their environment.  Therefore, they are readily drawn away from the wellness that they have in Jesus Christ.

Pastors Struggling Under the Law

A pastor’s personality, the stresses he faces in ministry, his lack of experience in ministry, and old psychological issues that have not been dealt with, all work together to pull a pastor away from the wellness that he has in Jesus Christ.  Invariably, the pastor is drawn toward a Law-based behaviour such as people-pleasing, perfectionism or authoritarianism.  Apart from his wellness in Jesus Christ, that pastor is under the Law.  Theologically speaking, the Law only kills; it is not able to give life.  As Paul writes to the “foolish Galatians,”  “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law'” (Gal 3:10).  The parallel between Christian wellness and sanctification has been mentioned in chapter 1.  Just as the basis and source of our sanctification is not the Law, but the Gospel, so it is with our wellness.  Pastors living under the Law will invariably be lacking in Christian wellness.

A Biblical Example of a Lack of Wellness:  Elijah in 1 Kings 19

In 1 Kings 18, Elijah experienced a euphoric victory over the prophets of Baal and Asherah on Mount Carmel.  God had acted dramatically and decisively before the people of Israel to show that He was the one true God (1 Kgs 18:16-46).  The issue of who was God should have been clearly settled for all the people of the northern kingdom.  But in chapter 19, at that very moment, in what should have been a time to savour that glory, Elijah was singled out and marked for death by Queen Jezebel.  He ran for his life to Beersheba, and experienced a crisis both personally and in his ministry.  He spoke to God of how zealous he had been, and how his fervour and hard work had met with rejection and death threats from his people.  Elijah felt isolated, persecuted, and worthless, and he wanted to die.  At this point in the scriptural account, Elijah was burnt out and lacked wellness (1 Kgs 19:1-14). Biblical prophets were not immune and neither are clergy today.

Conclusion

One could say that pastors have a high propensity for a lack of wellness.  The same personality traits that help them to be good pastors are the traits that interact with the stresses of ministry to pull them away from wellness.  A lack of experience, and old psychological issues that remain unaddressed, combine with the aforementioned factors to place some pastors at an exceptionally high risk.  As pastors are drawn away from wellness, they are drawn into living under the Law.  A scriptural example of pastoral unwellness can be seen in Elijah.


[1] James R. Paulgaard, “Survey data 5.02” [Excel data file], April 2003.  The survey results were sorted by the Clergy Burnout Inventory score and grouped into the four burnout levels:  Level 1 = CBI score of 0-32 which means the pastor is experiencing no burnout; Level 2 = CBI score of 33-48 which means the pastor is bordering on burnout; Level 3 = CBI score of 49-64 which means the pastor is experiencing some burnout; and Level 4 = CBI score of  65-80 which means the pastor is experiencing extreme burnout.                                                                                                                          Questions 50 and 51 on the NPWS were found to produce results inconsistent with the rest of the survey questions.  Therefore, results from those two questions were omitted from the calculation of a wellness score called the modified Wellness-Financial (mWF) score.  The mWF score is the sum of the wellness scores for each dimension of wellness (emotional, vocational, social, intellectual, spiritual and physical) plus the financial wellness score.  The financial wellness score was included in the mWF score because research indicated that financial factors had a significant relationship to burnout.  Pastors who receive the lowest salaries have significantly higher levels of burnout, and pastors who receive the highest salaries have significantly lower levels of burnout (Cf. James R. Paulgaard, “Survey research-Part A [Excel data file], April 2003).                                                                                                            The mean of the modified Wellness-Financial (mWF) scores in each level of burnout were calculated, and then the midpoints between each of these means was determined.  These midpoints were used as the boundary points between each of the four wellness levels.  Thus Very Poor Wellness is defined as having a mWF score of less than 23.204; Poor Wellness is having a score between 23.204 and 25.236; Moderate Wellness is a score between 25.236 and 27.558; and Very Good Wellness is a score above 27.558.

[2] Gary L. Harbaugh, Pastor as Person (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984), 70.

[3] Harbaugh, 70.

[4] Steve R. Bierly, How to Thrive as a Small-Church Pastor (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 117.

[5] Harbaugh, 70-71; Pastor D, 3; Pastor E, 7.

[6] Pastor E, 1, 4.

[7] Harbaugh, 71.

[8] Bierly, 15-18; cf. Harbaugh, 72-73.

[9] Pastors with Very Good Wellness (mWF score > 27.558) indicate “supportive people in the congregation,” “accountability,” and “community involvement” as helping factors significantly more often than do pastors in general, while pastors with Very Poor Wellness (mWF score < 23.204) indicate “supportive family” as a helping factor significantly less than do pastors in general (“Survey 5.04”).  Also, pastors who indicate “supportive people in the congregation” as a helping factor have significantly lower levels of burnout than do pastors in general (James R. Paulgaard, “Survey research-Part D” [Excel data file], April 2003, p. 13); pastors who indicate “lack of support within the congregation” or “lack of friends” as a hindering factor have significantly higher levels of burnout than do pastors in general (“Survey research-Part D,” pp.34, 36).

[10] Bierly, 18-33.

[11] Harbaugh, 43.

[12] Harbaugh, 48; Pastor G, 5.

[13] Harbaugh, 49.

[14] William E. Hulme, Managing Stress in Ministry (San Francisco:  Harper & Row, 1985), 19.

[15] Harbaugh, 49.

[16] Harbaugh, 50.

[17] Harbaugh, 46-47.

[18] Harbaugh, 44; cf. Pastor H [pseud.], interview by author, transcript of tape recording, 22 January 2003, 1.

[19] Harbaugh, 43.

[20] Harbaugh, 70-71; Pastor D, 3; Pastor E, 7.

[21] Pastor D [pseud.], interview by author, transcript of tape recording, 20 January 2003, 3.  Cf. William E. Hulme, Your Pastor’s Problems:  A Guide for Ministers and Laymen (Garden City, NY:  Doubleday, 1966), 62-3.  Hulme offers some insights into pastoral perfectionism.  He says, “He [the perfectionist] needs to be perfect in order to accept himself.  Since he naturally falls short of his goal, he is continually punishing himself for being a failure.                                                                                                                              “The perfectionist is overcompensating for his extreme sense of inferiority.  Since his doubts about his worth are so strong, only perfection can reassure him.  Being very sensitive about his deficiencies, he may become quite defensive if others should allude to them.  Perfectionists tend to run themselves down, but they do not expect others to agree with them.  In fact, it may irritate them if they do.  One of the reasons we run ourselves down is that we hope thereby to move others to build us up.  The perfectionist is seeking reassurance.  Yet verbal reassurance gives only temporary relief.  The real goal-perfection itself-forever eludes him.  Even if he should attain it, it is doubtful if he could accept it.  The perfectionist is a guilty person, and he is driven by this guilt to punish himself.”

[22] Harbaugh, 44; Pastor D, 2.

[23] Pastor E, 6.

[24] James R. Paulgaard, “Survey data 5.04b” [Excel data file], April 2003.  The hindering factor ranked second in the survey actually was “Other misc. hindering factors.”  However because this is not really a proper factor on its own, but rather a sum of minor factors, it was omitted from this top ten list.

[25] “Survey data 2.0.”

[26] “Survey data 5.04.”

[27] “Survey data 5.04.”

[28] James R. Paulgaard, “Survey data 3.05” [Excel data file], April and May 2003.  Not all pastors with low levels of experience are suffering from a lack of wellness.  Among pastors with seven years of experience or less, 13.8% have Very Poor Wellness, 27.6% have Poor Wellness, 37.9% have Moderate Wellness, and 20.7% have Very Good Wellness.  The question of “why some and not others” is an area for further study. Cf. “Survey data 5.04”:  Pastors with Very Poor Wellness are likely to spend more evenings with their family than do pastors on average and they are more likely to be living in parsonages.

[29] Oswald, Clergy Self-care, 30-34.  Scores were summed for the following events that happen in the transition from the seminary to the parish:  Geographical relocation, new job in a new line of work, change of financial state, start or finish of school, change in living conditions, revision of personal habits, change in residence, change in schools, change in recreation, change in social activities, developing of new friendships, Christmas, Easter, and Lent.  The total score for these events was 309 indicating “very serious” stress levels.  If there are additional factors that may occur in such a transition, such as:  Start or stop of spouse’s employment, change in schools, and mortgage or personal loan of less than $50,000, the sum would be 372 indicating “alarming” levels of stress.  And this would be without any stress events within the congregation being included.

[30] Pastor A [pseudo.], interview by author, transcript of tape recording, 20 January 2003, 5; Pastor C, 5.  Cf. Pastor I [pseudo.], interview by author, transcript of tape recording, 23 January 2003, 13-15, regarding how much stress is created when pastors seek to impose their own goals upon a congregation instead of serving to fulfill the goals of the congregation.

[31] Bierly, 138.

[32] Bierly, 139.

[33] Bierly, 139-47.

[34]This concurs with data collected from interviews, for two pastors alluded to or spoke of experiencing burnout early in their ministry:  Pastor A, 5-6, 27-28; Pastor B [pseudo.], interview by author, transcript of tape recording, 20 January 2003, 8-9;

[35] Pastor A, 6, 43-44.

[36] “Survey data 5.04.”

[37] “Survey data 5.04b.”

[38] James R. Paulgaard, “Survey Research-Part A-rel. to modified Wellness score” [Excel data file], April 2003, p. 57.

[39] James R. Paulgaard, “Survey data 3.23” [Excel data file], April 2003.

[40] Pastor A, 2-4, 19-20, 33, 35-37, 40-41, 50; Pastor B, 2, 6-7; Pastor C, 8; Pastor D, 10; Pastor H, 8-9.  Cf. “Survey data 3.23”:  The seven pastors who ranked “being a father” as their top priority average thirty-six years of age.

[41] Robert L. Randall, Pastor and Parish:  The Psychological Core of Ecclesiastical Conflicts (New York:  Human Sciences Press, 1988), 33, 38-40,

[42] Randall, 41-44.  Cf. St. Clair, 143-147.

[43] Randall, 44-46.

[44] Randall, 55-56, 118.  St. Clair, 147-48.

[45] Randall, 57-58, 82-83, 120-121.

[46] Randall, 45-46.

Christian Wellness: Chapter 1-What is it and why is it important?


Chapter 1

WHAT IS A CHRISTIAN UNDERSTANDING OF WELLNESS AND WHY IS CHRISTIAN WELLNESS IMPORTANT?

Introduction:  Why Wellness?

In 1999, the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod (LCMS) released the results of a study conducted to determine the underlying causes of the shortage of pastors in the LCMS.  This study, the Clergy Shortage Study, indicated that about 20% of LCMS pastors are in advanced stages of burnout; that an additional 20% are “well on their way to burnout; that another 30% of LCMS pastors are “ambivalent about their ministry”;[1] and that only about 30% of LCMS pastors are free from burnout and truly enjoy their work.[2]

The study linked the high levels of burnout to the issue of the retention of pastors.  It indicated that the 20% of LCMS pastors who are in advanced stages of burnout are in despair and depression; they are headed for “physical and/or behavior meltdown,”[3] and they are no longer able to deal with the challenges they are facing.[4]

Generally, pastors in this group would quit immediately if they thought that there was something else that they could do.  Clearly these pastors are headed for an early exit from the ministry.  But they would not be alone.  During the years 1988-1997, 54.2% of the LCMS pastors who left the ministry did so before the normal retirement age.[5]

Clergy burnout is also a problem for recruitment because healthy pastors are reluctant to recruit others into the ministry, while burned out pastors are presenting a role model that “is instrumental in discouraging first and second career people from entering full-time ministry.”[6] But what is the level of burnout among pastors in Lutheran Church-Canada and what can be done to reduce the levels of burnout?  Early in the thesis process, a decision was made to approach the question from a positive perspective and to use a wellness approach.  Therefore, the question became:  What is the level of wellness among pastors in Lutheran Church-Canada and what can be done to improve the levels of wellness?

Methodology

A survey entitled the LCC National Pastoral Wellness Survey (NPWS) was developed and sent to the 275 active pastors of LCC in early November 2002.  The survey asked questions regarding biographical information, wellness, and factors that helped or hindered pastors in maintaining their own wellness.  A six-dimensional approach was used in formulating the survey, meaning that questions were asked about wellness in six areas of life:  emotional wellness, vocational wellness, social wellness, intellectual wellness, spiritual wellness, and physical wellness.[7] Information was also gathered on a seventh dimension, financial wellness, to see if there was a connection between wellness and finances.[8] Since burnout was the initial point of concern and because studying the connection between burnout and wellness was a critical part of the research, a tool to measure burnout, the Clergy Burnout Inventory (developed by Roy M. Oswald of the Alban Institute) was used with permission and incorporated into the NPWS.[9] Pastors were asked to fill out the survey by November 30, 2002 and to return the completed survey in a pre-addressed postage paid envelope that was provided.

One hundred fifty-nine pastors took the time to fill out the survey and return it.  Incomplete surveys were set aside, and then a sample that was representative of each of five regions of LCC[10] was drawn from the pool of survey results.  It was this group of one hundred seventeen completed surveys which provided the survey data for this thesis.  The data was analysed using Microsoft Excel, and particular attention was paid to co-relationships between various fields of data.  Where statements are made within this thesis regarding relationships between two items, a significance level of five percent was used.[11]

To collect more personal data regarding wellness, ten pastors were interviewed between January 20 and February 5, 2003.  Of the ten pastors, three were active pastors who were less than forty years old and had less than five years of experience in the ministry; four were active pastors between fifty and sixty years old with ten to thirty years of experience as a pastor, and three of the pastors were sixty-four or more years old, semi-retired, and had at least forty years of experience in active ministry.  Nine of these pastors were LCC pastors, while one was from another Protestant denomination.  These particular pastors were chosen to form a pool of interviewees that represent the broad spectrum of age and experience of pastors in LCC.  Some of these pastors exhibit high levels of wellness and they were included in the interview pool to gather their insights.  The one pastor who is not from LCC was asked to participate because of his experience and expertise in pastoral counselling.  All of the pastors are acquaintances of the author.

Burnout Results and Defining Burnout

The NPWS results indicate that burnout is a serious problem in LCC.  Of all the active pastors in LCC, 2.6% are suffering from extreme burnout and another 14.5% are experiencing burnout to a lesser extent.  Nearly half, 47.9%, are bordering on burnout, while only 35% of the pastors are experiencing no burnout at all.[12]

Burnout has been described by Herbert Freudenberger, the author of Burnout:  The High Cost of High Achievement, as “a state of fatigue or frustration brought about by devotion to a cause, way of life, or relationship that failed to produce the expected reward.”[13] Archie Brodsky and Jerry Edelwich, authors of Burnout, define the term as a “progressive loss of idealism, energy, and purpose experienced by people in the helping professions.” [14] University of California Berkeley psychologist Christine Maslach defines burnout as “a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion marked by physical depletion and chronic fatigue, feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, and by development of negative self-concept and negative attitudes toward work, life and other people.”[15]

Roy M. Oswald notes a distinction between burnout and being overstressed.  Overstress, or being stressed-out, is the overuse of one’s adjustment capacities by excessive novelty or change, and can result in physical and emotional illness.  Burnout is the overuse of one’s listening and caring capacities through having excessive responsibilities for an extended period of time or through involvement with too many needy people.  Burnout can result in cynicism, disillusionment, self-depreciation, emotional exhaustion or physical exhaustion.[16] According to this distinction, one who is stressed-out might say, “I just cannot handle things anymore!” while someone who is burnt-out might say, “I just do not care anymore!”  While there is a distinction between overstress and burnout, there is also a relationship between stress and burnout.  The Canadian Oxford Dictionary recognizes this relationship when it defines stress as “a demand on physical or mental energy. … distress caused by this [demand on physical or mental energy] (suffering from stress)”[17] and then defines burnout as “physical or emotional exhaustion, esp. caused by stress. … depression, disillusionment.”[18] Thus, in general usage, burnout is understood as being caused by stress.  Oswald’s distinction can be aligned with general usage if the overuse of one’s adjustment capacities and the overuse of one’s caring capacities are both understood as stress.  This thesis makes that link and assumes a strong causal connection between stress and burn-out.

For the purpose of this thesis, burnout is defined as a state of physical, emotional and mental exhaustion, marked by fatigue, feelings of helplessness and hopeless, loss of idealism and sense of purpose which is brought about by a continual drain upon one’s physical, mental or emotional capacity.  This is what 17.1% of LCC’s pastors are experiencing.  One interviewee, a middle-aged pastor with twelve years of pastoral experience, suggested that a pastor is like a bucket and a ladle.  He cannot draw water out of himself to refresh others unless he is refreshed himself.  When he has given all that he has to others and he has no more left to give; he is empty and he is burnt-out.[19]

The Link Between Wellness and Burnout

The research on the NPWS results has shown that burnout is inversely related to wellness.  Pastors with Clergy Burnout Inventory scores that indicate no burnout have significantly higher levels of wellness than do pastors in general, while those suffering from extreme burnout have wellness levels that are significantly lower than pastors on average.  The relationship works the other way as well.  Pastors with wellness levels in the lowest range have significantly higher average burnout levels, while pastors with high levels of wellness have significantly lower burnout scores.[20] Furthermore, the coefficient of determination between wellness scores and burnout scores is .504.  This means that 50.4% of any change in burnout level can be explained by a change in wellness.[21] Therefore, an improvement in the wellness of LCC pastors will not only reduce the levels of burnout among pastors, but also bring reduced risks of other health challenges and increased effectiveness, enjoyment and longevity in the pastoral ministry.

What is Wellness?

A Secular Definition

But what is wellness?  Wayne A. Payne and Dale B. Hahn in Understanding Your Health define wellness as a

“. . .  process of determining risk factors through periodic assessment and the provision of information, behaviour change strategies, and individual or group counselling that ultimately leads to the adoption of a wellness lifestyle.  Once adopted, this wellness lifestyle (characterized by low-risk, health-enhancing behaviours) over time should produce a sense of well-being (also called wellness by some wellness practitioners.”[22]

Wellness is not the same as health promotion, for while the latter is driven by concerns about morbidity and mortality, the former is intended to “. . . unlock the full potential of individuals as they interact within a variety of life’s arenas, including the workplace and the larger environment.”[23] Gerhard William Hettler III, one of the founders of the National Wellness Conference and one of the earliest proponents of wellness, uses the following definition:  “Wellness is an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence.”[24]

A Christian Definition

Different Motivations and Goals

A Christian understanding of wellness will depart from the secular understanding of wellness, for there is a different motivation and different goals.  The lives of believers are not primarily concerned with unlocking their full potential or a more successful existence.  The lives of believers are all about Jesus, for he has unlocked the door to heaven and showered his people with heavenly blessings of forgiveness, salvation and eternal life.  Therefore, Christians are motivated by God’s love.  In 1 John 4:10, they are reminded, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 Jn 4:10).  Their entire lives are a response of thankfulness to that love and, in that thankfulness, with an awareness of the eternal gifts that God has given them through Jesus Christ, they take care of the temporal gifts that God has given them.  They practice good stewardship of all that God has given to them, including their own selves.

Not only do Christians differ from the secular world in their motivation, their goals are also different.  Believers’ lives are lives of worship towards God and they live that worship by faithfully carrying out the tasks of their station in life.  Martin Luther captures this sense of worship of God in everyday life when he writes,

For the Lord of the greatest and least, of kings and slaves, of men and women, etc., is the same. We all have one and the same God, and we are one in the unified worship of God, even if our works and vocations are different. But each one should do his duty in his station, even as Jacob is a saintly and spiritual man meditating on God’s Law, praying, administering and governing the church. In the meantime, however, he does not overlook lowly domestic duties connected with the fields and the flocks, and this is set before us as an example that we may know that all our actions in domestic life are pleasing to God and that they are necessary for this life in which it becomes each one to serve the one God and Lord of all according to one’s ability and vocation.[25]

Christian lives are also lives of service, directed towards helping one’s neighbour.  In 1 John 4:11, Christian motivation and goal are joined: “Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 Jn 4:11).  In the Small Catechism, the Fifth Commandment is explained in the following manner: “We are to fear and love God, so that we neither endanger nor harm the lives of our neighbors, but instead help and support them in all of life’s needs.”[26] So the Christian goal for living wellness is to be better able to live lives of worship toward God and service to one’s neighbour.  This also connects with the role of believers as members of the royal priesthood of all believers.[27]

Christians also strive to further the advance of the Gospel, and what better way is there to help one’s neighbours than to have them hear the Good News of what Jesus Christ has done for them?  Improving pastoral wellness will not only benefit pastors’ personal wellness, it will also enable them more full to spread the Gospel.  For, as pastors adopt a wellness lifestyle and over time develop a sense of well-being, they will become more effective as pastors and more resilient to health challenges that arise.  Pastors who are experiencing wellness will be better able to serve and carry out the Ministry of Word and Sacrament.  As more pastors are retained in active ministry, then more people will be reached by Word and Sacrament.

The question of one’s attitude towards one’s self is important to wellness at this point.  Each of the Synoptic Gospels contain Jesus’ instructions to his followers: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mat 16:24).[28] The Greek phrase is aparnesastho heauton.  The verb aparnesastho is defined in this context as “to act in a wholly selfless manner, deny oneself.”[29] These passages, which are part of the ILCW lectionary, are often understood as requiring a radical denunciation of one’s self.  This is evident in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament discussion of Mark 8:34 in the article for arneomai “I must not confess myself and my own being, nor cling to myself, but abandon myself in a radical renunciation of myself, and not merely of my sins. I must no longer seek to establish my life of myself but resolutely accept death and allow myself to be established by Christ in discipleship.”[30] But R. C. H. Lenski brings forward a nuance that helps in our understanding of these passages and in our understanding of wellness.  He writes,

Whoever wills to come after Christ, “let him deny himself,” apo plus arneomai which means to turn someone off, to refuse association and companionship with him, to disown him.  The one to be denied is here heautos , SELF, self altogether and not merely some portion, some fault, some special habit or desire, some outward practice.  The natural, sinful self is referred to as it centers in the things of men and has no desire for the things of God….  This is not self-denial in the current sense of the word but true conversion, the very first essential of the Christian life.  The heart sees all the sin of self and the damnation and the death bound up in this sin and turns away from it in utter dismay, seeking rescue in Christ alone.  Self is thus cast out, and Christ enters in; henceforth you live, not unto yourself, but unto Christ who died for you.  Moreover, you can deny only one whom you know, a friend, for instance, by breaking off relations with him.  So here you are to deny your own old self and to enter into a new relation with Christ.[31]

But our entire being is not our old sinful self.  By the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have been given a new self.  In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  Francis Pieper notes, “By faith in Christ a ‘new man’ (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10; ‘the inward man,’ 2 Cor. 4:16) has been born, whose will agrees perfectly with the will of God.”[32] Therefore, we do not deny our entire being; we only deny our sinful self while, at the same time, affirming our new self, the new creation in Christ.[33]

Clearly there is room for a more positive attitude toward the self among Christians.  Mark C. Lobitz, in his M. Div. thesis “Christian Self-love,” makes an important observation:

One sees then that some Christian dogmaticians and ethicists oppose the idea of self-love because they connect it with eros love and thereby in its extreme with narcissism.  This is the presupposition with which they approach the subject.  The end result is a negative view of self-love.

Several theologians confirm that there is a Christian concept of self-love that is both natural and God-given, but which in its natural state must be closely guarded and possibly held in restraint by a person.  They hold to a cautious view of self-love.

Finally, some theologians promote self-love in a more unrestrained manner, seeing it as an important part of the Christian’s life when the love of self that is involved is agape, the gift-love from God.  They think that self-love has been held in suspicion for too long a period.

The difference then in thinking on self-love among these theologians is based in large measure on the meaning of the love involved in self-love and where it originates.  If it is generated only within the self, it is always suspect.  When the source of the self-love is attributed to God, it is acceptable even to some who were categorically opposed to it.  This reoccurring theme and emphasis continues to show itself as the foundation for Christian self-love.[34]

When Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment in the Law, he replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Mat 22:37-40).  Each of the Synoptic Gospels contains the phrase ton plesion sou hos seauton , with hos being used as a comparative conjunction.[35] Loving yourself is a presupposition here, and the sense of the verse is, “You love yourself; love your neighbour in like manner.”   Also, the redeemed self is involved both in loving God and in loving one’s neighbour, and if one is lacking wellness how can one love God with one’s whole self?  If a person is lacking wellness, how can he serve his neighbour?  Without an adequate level of wellness, one will need to have someone take care of him and then he will become a burden to others instead of a blessing.[36] It is the redeemed self which is supported and cared for, according to a Christian understanding of wellness.  Thus it is valid to understand the two Great Commandments as three: love the Lord our God, love our neighbour, and love ourselves.[37]

Scriptural Understandings of Humanity and Wellness

A Christian definition of wellness will incorporate a Scriptural understanding of what it means to be a human being.  Genesis 2:7 reads, “the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being,” a nephesh kayam .  The original meaning of the root n-ph-sh probably was  “breathe.”  Over time, it came to refer to that which breathes, the inner being of a person.  Thus n-ph-sh is often translated as “soul.”  But this is to be understood not in a metaphysical sense, but in reference to the entire living being, for in Genesis 1:20, 21 and 24, the word is also used in reference to animals.[38] n-ph-sh also has several related meanings that expand our understanding of what it means to be a living being. It can mean “soul, living being, life, self, person, desire, appetite, emotion, and passion.”[39] Thus, a human being, a nephesh kayam is not one-dimensional, but rather a multi-dimensional whole, a unit, with each facet of life being an important part of the whole.

A Christian understanding of wellness will also incorporate a scriptural understanding of what it means to have wellness.  The idea is epitomized in the Hebrew word shalom which is most often translated as “peace.”  But shalom means so much more than “peace” understood as merely “an absence of hostilities.”  The root sh-l-m indicates “completion and fulfilment–of entering into a state of wholeness and unity, a restored relationship,”[40] and  shalom in particular is defined by The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon as “completeness, soundness, welfare, peace.”[41] The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament states, “Completeness, wholeness, harmony, fulfilment, are closer to the meaning [than is ‘peace’]. Implicit in sh¹lôm is the idea of unimpaired relationships with others and fulfilment in one’s undertakings.”  It is significant that the context in scriptural usage often indicates that God is the source of this completeness and wholeness.[42] Thus, shalom wellness is not something that a Christian does; it is something that God gives to him, and it means completeness and wholeness in all aspects of his life.

As with sanctification, so it is with one’s shalom wellness.  First, one’s justification is the basis of one’s shalom wellness.  Because Jesus has paid the entire penalty for sin, Christians now have forgiveness, eternal life and salvation, which are the constituents of their shalom wellness.  As Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (Jn 14:27).    Through faith in Jesus Christ, Christians have peace with God, and they have peace, or shalom wellness, from God.  As is true of Christian sanctification, one’s being made holy, so also of shalom wellness; Christians already possess it, although its perfection is not a reality for them at this time because, while they live on earth, sin continues to live in their bodies.  For Christians, their shalom wellness will always be imperfect and incomplete during this earthly life, yet as with sanctification, they continue the struggle to live out the shalom wellness that has been given to them by Jesus, and to live it in all areas of their lives.

A Christian Definition of Wellness

Therefore, a Christian understanding of wellness could be defined in the following way:  Christian wellness arises from appreciation for the forgiveness, salvation and eternal life, which have been given to believers by God through Jesus Christ, and involves being aware of the level of health and well-being in each dimension of a believer’s life and willingly making choices toward improving one’s health and well-being in each dimension, in order to maintain a proper balance between the various areas of one’s life and to improve one’s overall health and well-being, so that one may more fully worship God with one’s entire being, become a more effective servant to one’s neighbour, and be a better steward of what God has given him.

Conclusion

A survey of the pastors of LCC has indicated that a significant proportion of LCC pastors are suffering from burnout.  This survey has also shown a significant inverse relationship between wellness and burnout; that is, the higher a pastor’s levels of wellness, the lower his level of burnout tends to be.  In considering the meaning of wellness, it has been found that secular definitions of wellness do not incorporate the motivations and goals that Christian have.  However, informed by the Scriptural meaning of nephesh and shalom and by a theological understanding of the shalom wellness that has been given to Christians through Jesus Christ, a Christian definition of wellness has been developed.


[1] Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Board for Higher Education, Clergy Shortage Study, 47 [Report on-line.]; available from http://higher-ed.lcms.org/pdf/clergy-shortage-study.pdf; Internet; accessed 3 August 2002.

[2] Clergy Shortage Study, 47.

[3] Clergy Shortage Study, 47.

[4] Clergy Shortage Study, 47.

[5] Clergy Shortage Study, 4.  Between 1988 and 1997, 3,275 LCMS pastors left the ministry.  Of this group, 1,775, or 54.2% resigned before their normal retirement age.

[6] Clergy Shortage Study, 47.

[7] “The Six Dimensions of Wellness” [on-line]; available from http://hettler.com/sixdimen.htm; Internet; accessed 16 December 2002. (A mnemonic device was devised by the author to help remember the six dimensions of wellness:  Every Viener Sausage Is SPecial (Emotional, Vocational, Social, Intellectual, Spiritual and Physical wellness.)

[8] The following wellness inventories were used as resources for the formation of the National Pastoral Wellness Survey:

McKinley Health Center, “How WELLTHY Are You?” [on-line]; available from http://www.mckinley.uiuc.edu/wellness/wellu/HowWellthyAreYou.html; Internet; accessed on 23 September 2002;

Virginia Tech, “Wellness Inventory” [on-line]; available from http://www.vto.vt.edu/owrc/dmsn.php?did=inv; Internet; accessed on 9 October 2002;  Rutgers Cooperative Extension, “Financial Fitness Quiz” [on-line]; available from http://www.rce.rutgers.edu/money/ffquiz/default.asp; Internet; accessed 23 September 2002;

Acadia University, “Wellness Index – Wellness Inventory” [on-line]; available from http://admin.acadiau.ca/affairs/wellness/inventory.html; accessed 23 September 2002;

Plymouth State College, “Personal Wellness Quiz” [on-line]; available from http://wwwplymouth.edu/psc/wellness/quiz.htm; Internet; accessed 9 October 2002;

University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, “Are You Balancing the 7 Dimensions of Wellness?” [on-line]; available from http://cps.uwsp.edu/hphd/wellquiz/; Internet; accessed on 9 October 2002;

National Wellness Institute, “TestWell:  Wellness Inventory for Adults” [on-line]; available from http://www.testwell.org/pdf/QSetSA100Sample.pdf; Internet; accessed 9 October 2002;

National Wellness Institute, “TestWell:  Wellness Inventory – Standard Edition” [on-line]; available from http://www.testwell.org/pdf/QSetSA50Sample.pdf; Internet; accessed 9 October 2002.

[9] The Clergy Burnout Inventory was reprinted from Clergy Self-care:  Finding a Balance for Effective Ministry [pp. 61-66], by Roy M. Oswald, with permission from the Alban Institute, Inc., 7315 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 1250W, Bethesda, Maryland 20814-3211. © Copyright 1991.  All rights reserved.  Permission was granted by the Alban Institute to the author to use the Clergy Burnout Inventory for non-commercial/academic use for free for a period of one year beginning September 26, 2002.

[10] For the purposes of this survey, LCC was divided into the following five regions:  British Columbia, Alberta, Central District, Postal District N of the East District (the Kitchener-Waterloo-London-Windsor region), and the balance of the East District.

[11] Douglas Downing and Jeffrey Clark, Statistics: The Easy Way (Hauppauge, NY: Baron’s, 1997), 194-97.

[12] James R. Paulgaard, “Survey data 2.0” [Excel data file], April 2003.

[13] Roy M. Oswald, Clergy Self-care:  Finding a Balance for Effective Ministry (Bethesda, Maryland: Alban Institute, 1991), 59, quoting Herbert Freudenberger, Burnout:  The High Cost of High Achievement (Garden City: Anchor, 1980).

[14] Oswald, 59, quoting Jerry Edelwich and Archie Brodsky, Burnout:  Stages of Disillusionment in the Helping Professions (New York: Human Sciences Press, 1980).

[15] Oswald, 59 quoting Christine Maslach, “Burned-Out,” Human Behavior (Sept. 1978): 17-20.

[16] Oswald, 57-8.

[17] The Canadian Oxford Dictionary (2001), s.v. “stress,” (emphasis in original).

[18] The Canadian Oxford Dictionary (2001), s.v. “burnout.”

[19] Pastor E [pseudo.], interview by author, transcript of tape recording, 21 January 2003, 3.

[20] James R. Paulgaard, “Survey data 5.04” [Excel data file], April 2003.

[21] “Survey data 2.0.”  Cf. Downing, Statistics:  The Easy Way, 262.

[22] Wayne A. Payne & Dale B. Hahn, Understanding Your Health (New York:  McGraw-Hill, 2002), 9 (emphasis in original).

[23] Payne & Hahn, 9.

[24] “An Interview with Bill Hettler, M.D.” [on-line]; available from http://www.seekwellness.com/wellness/interviews/hettler.htm; Internet; accessed 16 December 2002.

[25]Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan, Helmut Lehmann and others, vol. 6, Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 31-37, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan  (Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1970) [CD-ROM], 848.

[26] “The Small Catechism,” I.10 in The Book of Concord, edited by Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert (Minneapolis:  Fortress, 2000), 352.

[27] Cf. 1 Peter 2:5, “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”; 1 Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light”; Heb 13:15 NIV, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that confess his name”; and Phi 4:18, “I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.”

[28] Cf. Mark 8:34, Luke 22:34.

[29] A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature [BDAG], third edition, (2000), s.v. “avparne,omai.”

[30] Heinrich Schlier, “arne,omai,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey William Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-c1976) vol. 1, 469, in Unabridged Theological Dictionary of the New Testament [CD-ROM] (Oak Harbor, WA:  Logos, 2000).

[31] R. C. H. Lenski, Commentary on the New Testament:  The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel (Wartburg Press, 1943; reprint, Peabody, Mass.:  Hendrickon, 2001), 643 (italics mine).

[32] Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, vol. 3 (St. Louis:  Concordia, 1953), 15.

[33] Cf. Ephesians 4:22-24, “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”

[34] Mark C. Lobitz, “Christian Self-love” (M. Div. thesis, Concordia Lutheran Seminary, 1990), 83-4.

[35] Synopsis of the Four Gospels, sec. 282, p. 249.  Cf. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature [BDAG], third edition, (2000), s.v. “w’j,” “a conjunction marking a point of comparison.”

[36] Pastor G [pseud.], interview by author, transcript of tape recording, 22 January 2003, 12.

[37] Pastor C [pseud.], interview by author, transcript of tape recording, 20 January 2003, 10.

[38]Bruce K. Waltke, “vp;n”,” The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, by R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., Bruce K. Waltke, vol. 2 (Chicago:  Moody, 1980), 590, in Bibleworks 4 [CD-ROM] (Big Fork, MT:  Hermeneutika,  1999).  “A total of 755 occurrences of the noun nepesh have been counted in the OT, and of these it is rendered in the Greek translation (LXX) some 600  times by the psyche (psuch¢). Of the 144 times it is used in the Psalms, over 100 of them have the first person suffix, “my soul.” Thus in its most  synthetic use nepesh stands for the entire person. In Gen 2:7 “man became a living creature” [ nepesh ]-the substantive must not be taken in the  metaphysical, theological sense in which we tend to use the term “soul” today. Precisely the same Hebrew expression (nepesh µayyâ)- traditionally  rendered “living soul” occurs also in Gen 1:20, 21, and Gen 1:24. In other words, man is here being associated with the other creatures as sharing in the passionate experience of life and is not being defined as distinct from them. It is true, however, as Oehler points out that the source of the nepesh of animals is the ground, whereas the source of the nepesh of Adam is God.”

[39] Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1997), s.v. “vp,n<.”

[40] G. Lloyd Carr, “~lev,” TWOT, vol. 2, 930.

[41] “~Alv’,” BDB, 1022.

[42] G. Lloyd Carr, “~lev'” TWOT, vol. 2, 931.  “Sh¹lôm is the result of God’s activity in covenant (b®rît), and is the result of righteousness (Isa 32:17). In nearly two-thirds of its occurrences, sh¹lôm describes the state of fulfilment which is the result of God’s presence. This is specifically indicated in those references to the “covenant of  peace” (b®rît sh¹lôm, Num 25:12; Isa 54:10; Ezek 34:25; Mal 2:5) with his chosen representatives, the Aaronic priests and the Davidic monarchs.  The peace that marks the conclusion of an agreement between adversaries (Isaac and Abimelech, Gen 26:29), business partners (Solomon and Hiram, 1 Kings 5:12 [H 26]), and man and God (Abraham, Gen 15:15) is couched in terms of covenant agreement.”

Christian Wellness: Introduction


INTRODUCTION

The Clergy Shortage Study released by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in 1999 raised concerns about the large numbers of LCMS clergy who are suffering from burnout.  The study also linked the high incidence of burnout to the shortage of pastors that the LCMS is facing by indicating that pastors who are burnt-out often leave the ministry before retirement age, and while pastoring do not model a lifestyle that young men would like to emulate.

But what is the situation in Lutheran Church-Canada and what can be done to help pastors?  While considering this question, the corresponding topic of wellness needs to be raised.  There is much interest in wellness these days, but much of it is from a secular perspective and is driven by goals that sub-Christian.  Could there be an understanding of wellness from a Confessional Lutheran perspective and could such an understanding be helpful in countering burnout among the pastors of Lutheran Church-Canada?

Research indicates that wellness offers an approach with the potential to be helpful.  Results from a research survey conducted among the active pastors of the Lutheran Church-Canada indicate that there is also a high incidence of burnout among Lutheran Church-Canada pastors.  Furthermore, the results show that there is a very significant inverse relationship between wellness and burnout:  the higher the level of wellness a pastor has, the lower his level of burnout will likely be.  Informed as we are by God’s revealed Word and our Lutheran Confessions, we know that Jesus Christ will be the centre of any Christian understanding of wellness, and with that in mind, such an understanding was developed and is offered within this thesis.  A Christian wellness approach, therefore, offers genuine hope to the pastors of Lutheran Church-Canada and others who seek to improve pastoral health and well-being.

Christian Wellness: Abstract & Contents


CHRISTIAN WELLNESS FOR LUTHERAN CHURCH-CANADA PASTORS

********************

A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of Concordia Lutheran Seminary, Edmonton, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Divinity

********************

By James Robert Paulgaard

Permission is hereby granted to CONCORDIA LUTHERAN SEMINARY LIBRARY to reproduce single copies of this research paper and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only.

The author reserves other publication rights, and neither the research paper nor extensive extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author’s written permission.

Date:  May 9, 2003

ABSTRACT

Concern over the high incidence of burnout among Lutheran pastors has led to a consideration of wellness as a potential approach for improving pastoral health and well-being.  This thesis evaluates the merits of such a wellness approach toward improving the well-being and health of pastors.  Chapter one investigates the nature of wellness as defined by the wellness movement and studies the nature and value of Christian wellness.  Chapter two examines the various factors that work together to draw pastors away from Christian wellness.  Among these factors are the pastor’s personality, the stress-filled nature of ministry, inexperience, financial stress, living in a parsonage and unresolved psychological issues.  Chapter three explores processes for restoring, maintaining and living Christian wellness.  This thesis finds that there is a very significant link between burnout and wellness and suggests that a Christian wellness approach offers great potential for improving the health and well-being of the pastors of Lutheran Church-Canada.

iii

ABBREVIATIONS

NASB             New American Standard Bible (1995)

NKJ                 New King James

All scriptural quotations are from the New International Version of the Bible unless otherwise specified.

CONTENTS

ABSTRACT

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER ONE:  What is a Christian Understanding of Wellness and Why is Christian Wellness Important?

  • Introduction: Why Wellness?
  • Methodology
  • Burnout Results and Defining Burnout
  • The Link Between Wellness and Burnout
  • What is Wellness?
    • A Secular Definition
    • A Christian Definition
      • Different Motivation and Goals
      • Scriptural Understandings of Humanity and Wellness
      • A Christian Definition of Wellness
  • Conclusion

CHAPTER TWO:  What is Contributing to a Lack of Wellness Among LCC Pastors?

  • Introduction
  • The Pastoral Personality
  • The Nature of Ministry
  • The Interaction of the Pastoral Personality with the Stressful Nature of Ministry
  • Pastors at Risk
    • Inexperienced Pastors
    • Stress in the Transition From Seminary to the Parish and in the First Few Years of Ministry
    • Financial Stress
    • The Struggle to Maintain a Balance between Work and Family
    • Pastors With Unresolved Psychological Issues
  • Pastors Struggling Under the Law
  • A Biblical Example of a Lack of Wellness:  Elijah in 1 Kings 19
  • Conclusion

CHAPTER THREE: Restoring and Living in Christian Wellness

  • Introduction
  • Dealing with Denial
  • The Gospel for Pastors
  • A Scriptural Process for Restoring and Maintaining Wellness:  1 Kings 19
  • Keys for Christian Wellness
  • Relationship
  • Empathic Love
  • Truth
  • Forgiveness
  • The On-going Need for Relationship, Empathic Love, Truth and Forgiveness
  • Jesus as Our Model for Wellness
  • Living in Wellness
  • Ideas for Practicing Wellness
  • Spiritual Wellness
  • Physical Wellness
  • Emotional Wellness
  • Social Wellness
  • Vocational Wellness
  • Intellectual Wellness
  • Financial Wellness
  • Conclusion

CONCLUSION

BIBLIOGRAPHY

APPENDIX A – SURVEY DOCUMENTS

APPENDIX B – SURVEY RESULTS

APPENDIX C – RESULTS OF HYPOTHESIS TESTING

APPENDIX D – PASTORAL WELLNESS SELF-TEST