A recent CBC opinion piece highlights the way in which providing pastoral care can be an emotional burden for congregational leaders.

Pastoral Care Challenges is one of the potential Core Stressors that we explore in our research. With over 300 participants to date, 28% identify this as a Core Stressor for them, meaning it is more than moderately frequent and more than moderately negative, and contributes to an increased experience of stress in their ministry lives.

However, it is encouraging to note that for 32%, Pastoral Care Challenges appears as a Stress Buffer, meaning that engaging in the challenges of providing Pastoral Care is linked to an increase in their sense of personal accomplishment!

When we have one-on-one conversations with our participants to explore their Ministry Life Assessment and Discernment Report, we often ask “Who is a trusted person in your life with whom you could further explore what this data means for you?”

As the article notes, many people in positions of congregational leadership feel alone in the role that they play. If this is true for you, we would encourage you to consider who you might want to include in your support team; ministry has a unique set of challenges that can sometimes be isolating, but you can help set yourself up for a lifetime of flourishing by building a community of support. This might include a licensed therapist, a spiritual director, trusted peers in similar contexts.

We are created to be in relationship, to cultivate vulnerability, and to receive love as we give it. Ministers and leaders in faith communities are no exception; it may take a little more work, but we believe a healthy network of supportive relationships will go a long way in creating a sustainable ministry experience.

As always, if you are working in Christian ministry and have not participated in our research (or it has been 2 years since you last participated), please register now and receive your free Ministry Life Assessment and Discernment Report after completing our questionnaires.


Prompts for Reflection:

  • Do I feel drained by the responsibilities I have to provide emotional support to those in my care?
  • What relationships from my life stand out as being places of support and encouragement for me as a person?
  • Who is currently in my circle of support that provides space for me to be vulnerable?
  • When I think about the sustainability of my current ministry experience, what additional care for my self might be helpful?