getting help, for those in ministry

Too often leaders, particularly in ministry settings, fail to get help when they need it and end up burning out their lives and hurting their families.  That’s what happened to me, and I do not want it to happen to anyone else.  While those tough times made me a much better person, I believe I improved by God’s grace and not because he likes things like divorce.

Here are a few things I learned the hard way.

1.  You are not unique.  Sorry to break it to you, but your problems are not new to humanity.  Someone somewhere, and more likely many people, are experiencing or have experienced the same thing you are experiencing.  So avoid the martyr syndrome.  Been there, done that, not good.

2.  God accepts you and can use you right where you are just as you are.  God’s grace is unfathomable.  We will never grasp how wide and deep and long and high his love and grace extend to us.  He accepts you as you are, with the sins you are fighting, or the burnout, or the failing marriage.  He does not accept you because of who you will be or because of who you were.  The Bible says, “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (ESV – Romans 5:8)

3.  Pray for guidance.  Prayer is always first.  “‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God . . . Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” (ESV – James 4:6-7a, 8a)

4.  Get advice from a trusted friend.  If you do not have a trusted friend, pray for one.  While I was going through my divorce I had a friend come alongside me and meet me every week for lunch.  He gave advice if I asked for it, but mostly he listened, asked questions, and prayed for me.  He also bought me lunch a lot, which was very cool!  You need good friends.

5.  Consider a ministry coach.  Coaches are not counselors.  Coaches come alongside a leader to help him or her figure out their life plan, ministry goals, and how to get there.  Here is an excellent post by Michael Hyatt highlighting a new coaching service tailored specifically for ministry leaders, both in content and in pricing.

6.  Get a personal counselor.  Find a person of the same sex with whom you can go through all of the emotions and difficulties you are experiencing.  Once you find someone which whom you can relate, you will not feel alone in dealing with your problems.

If you have been through a difficult time or experience, what helped you get back on your feet?