Rhett Smith cautions against being so outwardly focused on the needs of others that you don’t look at your own needs.
The irony of the work that I do as a therapist is that ministry leaders are one of the biggest referrers to my practice. They often instinctively see someone who is hurting and in need of help, and they are quick to locate help for that person. They may do some counseling themselves, refer to a lay ministry, or make a recommendation for that person to come see me in my private practice.
Ministry leaders are really good at connecting hurting people to avenues of help.
If that is the case, then why do so many ministry leaders have a hard time connecting to help for themselves? I ask this question of myself as well since I have been serving in ministry for about 18 years.
Why do I have such a hard time reaching out and getting the help I need?
It was not always easy for me to ask…to reach out for help. And it still isn’t easy. But when I did…wow, it changed my life. And I was forever thankful to the people who often encouraged me to get the help I needed. In fact, I’m just now coming out of a long season where I had people alongside of me helping me through some difficult transitions.
So why then do ministry leaders often ignore their need for help but are so good at getting others help?
Here are a few thoughts I have. Let me know what resonates with you.
One, many ministry leaders are often so outwardly focused on the needs of others that they don’t look at their own needs. Some of this is due to the large amount of us in ministry who are “people pleasers” and have hard time setting boundaries in our lives. We overextend ourselves in order to help others, but often at the peril of our own families, marriages and personal lives. The thought of getting one’s own help often goes unnoticed. And unfortunately, I was sharing with one pastor in counseling the other day that church history is full of stories of great ministry leaders whose personal lives were a trail of destruction. Broken marriages. Angry and detached kids. And a ministry legacy that was tarnished in the process.