Few understand the stress and emotional pain experienced by clergy. Current research suggests that, when compared to the general public, pastors are more at risk for a variety of health concerns, including burnout, depression and chronic illness. Adding to many pastors’ distress is the notion that they should not have clay feet. Parishioners, unfortunately, share this misconception. As a result, pastors are the least likely of any group to seek professional help before a problem evolves into a major crisis.
Crises are like cancers: both evolve in stages and, without proper treatment, can destroy lives. Our goal is to catch a pastor’s problem in Stage 1, when it is small and confined to one area of his/her life, and then provide treatment to prevent the problem from metastasizing into a major crisis.
Fortunately, many pastors are aware when they have Stage 1 problems. Our first step involves helping our clergy discard the “no clay feet” myth and encourage them to seek help early. Next, we provide services, including counseling, support groups and wellness programs, to help clergy and their families through periods of crisis and despair.
As one writer stated so well, “The real miracle is not to walk on water, but to walk on Earth.” The purpose and commitment of Center for Clergy Care and Education is to help local clergy become better at walking on Earth and that, by doing so, we will ultimately all become better servants to the people of God.