Skip to main content

Pastoral self-care in times of Crisis:


                My heart went out to the families and friends in a neighboring community this past weekend which was dealing with the loss of three teenagers in a tragic car accident.  The crash is still under investigation and all the details are not known. However, the devastation for the family and friends of this small community is going to be felt for years to come.

                As I thought about this small town crisis, my heart broke for the man of God within our denomination that would minister to these families. At least of one the children killed was a member of his church, and the others were friends of the teenager so he may even have known them as well. He will be called upon to provide emotional support, pastoral care, and answers to all the theological questions of the families in a time of crisis, mainly “WHY”

                The pastor will be challenged to work with family members at different points in the stages of grief, and keep it all straight in his mind. Family will go through the stages ranging from denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. He will not only deal with these emotions and stages of grief with the immediate family (mom, dad, sisters, and brothers) but he will also face the emotions of the grandparents, aunt, uncles, and dozens of other relationships. 

                As a pastor, associate pastor, and counselor I have never had to address the issues this pastor is facing. The funerals that I have been called on to do were of older men and women that had lived a full life, and the end was messaged in time, know that it was coming.

                As a pastor, anytime we address an unplanned death it is hard: car wreck, complication from surgery, suicide, and shooting.  These are all hard and for us as pastors/ministers, to think that we are above the emotional struggles that our members face is crazy.

                However, over the years in my role as an associate pastor and counselor I have worked with several pastors that have faced similar challenges. As I talked with them and encouraged them I shared six foundational points that I believe are essentials for “Pastoral Self Care in a time of crisis”

1.       As a pastor we must not be afraid to cry over the loss of a member of our church or a dear friend that has died; we are human and need to address our own emotions.

2.       As a pastor we must be willing to take care of our own personal physical needs, including getting enough rest, eating healthy, and getting some exercise (getting up and moving around).  On a personal note several years ago, I did a funeral about three hours from home for a family member and missed this part of the Self-care.  We drove in late that night, got very little sleep, did not eat breakfast, and went through the whole day with no rest. On the trip home that afternoon (real late) I was in the back seat with a migraine, and sick to my stomach from not eating.

3.       As a pastor we have to be willing to talk with a minister friend or counselor about our own personal emotions and feeling, especially in situation like this one where you know that individual and the family that you are dealing with.

4.       As a pastor we need to find time to continue in our personal prayer and devotional time. This is essential in keeping us grounded in the word of God, and addressing our own spiritual relationship with Christ.

5.       As a pastor we need to spend time with our own family throughout the process. This is not only for you, but for them as well. This is even more important if for example in this case (and I don’t know this for sure) the pastor has a teenage son/daughter that knew the kids that died, they may have questions that they need there pastor/father to answer as well.

6.       Lastly, as a pastor, (and sadly this is something that as pastors we are really bad about because it takes planning for the future.) every pastor should have a group of pastors/ministers that he meets with at least monthly, if not weekly to provide support and encouragement, in the great blessing a that God provides; and wise counseling,  a shoulder to cry on, and prayers that you will need as you address the challenges of death or crisis in your church.

Popular posts from this blog

Sad reality within the church~

The impact of Suicide, even within our churches today!             Reports have emerged that Pastor Bill Lenz who was founder and longtime senior pastor of Christ the Rock Community Church in Harrison, WI died Monday by committing Suicide.   Bill was a strong advocate within the Christian community for Suicide Prevention, and along with his brother created Life Promotions, that ministers and teaches folks about Suicide Prevention and how to recover from those thoughts.             Reports that I have read have stated that Pastor Lenz reported suffering with Anxiety,   Panic Attacks, and Depression for about three months, and his staff and board responded by providing support and encouragement including giving him time to seek counseling and treatment.   However, the depression became overwhelming and on Monday, he chose to take his own life.    My prayers are with his family, friends, staff, and members of his church.   Having provided Suicide Prevention training to staff

My top 5 books …

I thank God every day for my Amazon Kindle account, Google Books, and other apps that allow me to carry hundreds of books with me everywhere I go. Then of course there is the dozen of paperback and hardback books sitting on my desk in my office, on the bookcase at home, and stand beside my chair in the living room. Yes, the reality is I love to read, I think it can be traced back to my Grandma Argue, when we lived with her while my dad was overseas with the Air Force, she would have me sit and read for a half-hour to her before anything else got started. Of course, she set the example by reading one to two books a day. Today, I average around a book a week in addition to reading portions of other books as I study various topics, in addition there are the dozen of articles I read to help prepare sermons, teaching outlines, etc. However, there are 5 books that have been my favorite over the years, and in my opinion a must read for everybody. Mere Christianity by C.S.

Five Essentials to Ministering to Men

How to have an Impactful Ministry to Men in your local church! Several years ago I was given the challenge of being the Men’s leader at a local church and the responsibility to take the lead in what would become the most challenging and rewarding ministry of my lifetime. In my experience I have found five essentials to Ministering to Men. These are the principles that I use daily as a Men’s Leader, and that teach in seminars throughout the Midwest. My prayer is that you will be blessed by these thoughts and encouraged in your ministry. 1.        Prayer: Prayer is the essential factor to the beginning and the continued success of any ministry; Ministering to Men is no different. I personally maintain a list of every man within our church and make it a point to pray for them weekly, dividing them over the Monday through Friday.   I pray for their personal needs, that they have wisdom in leading and being the spiritual head of their family, that they will continue to grow spiritually, an