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MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE PEACH PIT!
Merry Christmas! We hope God grants you peace and time with family this Christmas. We are so appreciative for all of our family and friends- thank you for being in our lives! All in all this has been a really good year for our family. We are grateful, because there were several years that we could not say that. But in good years and tough years, God has been so faithful. So here is what we have been up to in 2018!

SCOTT: Scott has had a great year at his job. He has impressed his employers time and again by solving some major problems, including switching the large company over to a new phone system and a new computer operating system. He said that this year has been one of the best he can remember. A highlight of the year for him was our Disney trip in September, where once again, he was able to wait in line and meet “Dug” from the movie “Up.” Scott loves living in Wisconsin, being so close to our families, getting to help his parents on their farm now and then, and having so much snow around Christmas. This summer he surprised us by installing a pond in the backyard complete with fish! He loves improving our house.

Trisha- I had an epic year. In May, I walked the line for my graduation with my Master’s from Bethel University in St. Paul, MN. It was an amazing weekend, and it meant the world to me that my husband Scott, my parents, sister, brother-in-law, my children, my niece and nephews were there to share the moment with me! I have written a third book about ministry burnout which will be coming out in 2019! (God willing). Scott and I celebrated 19 years of marriage in May!! That is like 2,342 years in Hollywood years. I love you babe! I did more traveling than ever before this past year- FL X2, NC, MI X2, WI, CO, MN X2, MS. So glad I got to see my aunts and my grandmother in MI. It was a busy year of ministry, but I loved it. I wrote articles for a few children’s ministry publications. In June, I started work for my doctorate at Bethel, and it is going well! I also started teaching English online from home- which I am loving. Life has been busy, but oh so wonderful. I loved our Disney trip, as well as summer fun hijinks with my sister and her family! We had so many fun holidays with both sides of the family! Another highlight of this past year was officiating at my sister in law’s wedding. Congratulations Kerri and Jerry! This year I have been on the pulpit committee at our church; it has been different to see this side of things. Scott and I and the kids are getting more and more involved in our church home. It is a privilege and a joy for us to do ministry together as a family.
Sadly, I did lose my Grandmother Stevens this year who went to be with Jesus just a few weeks ago. She really loved Christmas, but I know hers is extra special this year.

Logan- Our amazing son is 15 now. How is that possible??? He is so smart, funny and loveable. He is doing great in high school and has several good friends. Logan is still pursuing a career in computer programming. He still reads his Bible nightly and now he hits me with some really tough Bible questions! Logan loves animals, especially our dogs Ursani and Sam. Logan’s favorite part of our Disney trip was the fast rides- Tower of Terror and Mount Everest Expedition. And wow did Logan get taller this year! Logan and Eliana love spending time playing with their cousins Isaac and Caleb.
Eliana- Our daughter is a sunshine in our lives. She is so smart, witty, hilarious- social butterfly with a lot of friends. She is a friend to anyone who needs a friend at her school. This year she tested in the 98.2 percentile for math in the state of WI. She is now in Advanced Placement Math. She is leaning towards a career in graphic design. Eliana, now 13, loves Jesus and reads her Bible nightly. She and Logan still get along great and are best friends. She adores her cat who sticks to her like glue. Eliana’s favorite part of our Disney trip was the icecream at the Japan pavilion at Epcot. She is quite the gifted artist, if I do say so myself. Our family still loves playing board games and watching movies together.

We love you all and wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Thank you for making our year even brighter. I pray for a good year for you and your family in 2019. God is so faithful.

Love Trisha, Scott, Logan, Eliana 33745722_10157522033783345_4814512769489436672_n

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Are you ready for Christmas yet?  YIKES! How did it sneak up on us so quickly?? I hope during this season we thank God for all of the blessings in our lives……

Are you perhaps, one of the many this year having a bit of trouble trying to describe last year??  For MANY people I have been talking to, this was a tough year financially, tough on the job, tough on family relationships.  Holidays and heartache are a rough combination. Let me just bring up for a moment, a famous Christmas character’s name- the name “Ebenezer”.  Did you know that it is a Bible name?

Most people associate the name Ebenezer with Scrooge and Christmas.  But the name originates in the Old Testament- when someone followed God’s leading, through tough times and good times, on to what God had for them- they would set up a large stone to help them remember.  The stone was called, “Ebenezer” or “thus far the Lord has helped me.”  Meaning, every time you looked at that rock, you would remember just how far God has brought you. They would go out year and after year and show their kids the Ebenezer rock and say, “See kids- this is how far God brought us.”  God brought his people through darkness, war, plague, deserts- and He was with them every moment every step.  And when they finally took that promised ground, through a lot of tears and pain, they would set up that big rock to help them remember always, “This is how far our God brought us.”

For too many of my friends, this was a year of severe high and lows.  And there were battles, victories, wounds etc.  I have lived some very tough years in the past as well. It amazed me how God walked with us through every battle, and provided even miraculously for us. He didn’t spare us the deserts, but He went alongside us and lit up the nights.  I can honestly say, when I look back over my life, “Ebenezer- look how far God has brought us.”

Maybe you can’t look back at 2018 and say, “What a prosperous year” or “What a fun year”  or “best year of my life”  but many of us can say- just look how far God has brought me now!  And what better time than Christmas to share a story or two with your kids about your own family’s Ebenezer- tell them how far God has brought your family and what He has brought you THROUGH.

The best part of all this is hope- the spirit of Christmas indeed.  The hope –the CERTAINTY that the same God Who has brought us through will bring us on to even greater things; and He’ll be with us all the way.  What has God brought you through this year?  When you set up your tree this year, (along with a leaner Christmas perhaps), don’t forget to set up your family Ebenezer- and rejoice.  Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare  and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

Image result for ebenezer scrooge

For my doctorate, I just had to write a paper on the topic of Christian suffering, as presented throughout the book of 1 Peter. This is just an excerpt from that paper. Too often the verses in 1 Peter are used tragically and inappropriately against victims of domestic violence. Here are just a few of my thoughts on suffering, 1 Peter, and domestic violence. Love Trisha

“The teaching that God brings something good out of a Christian’s suffering, is called the doctrine of redemptive suffering. A note of caution is in order when we study and teach this doctrine, outlined mainly in the book of 1 Peter. Feminists have alleged that evangelical Christianity has emboldened and validated the abuse of women, especially domestic abuse, by promoting the concept of “redemptive suffering[1].” In effect, Peter reminds Christians to follow Christ’s example during suffering to receive a reward from God (2:21-25). If a Christian suffers “well”, with patience, faith, without retaliation, God will turn that suffering around for a good purpose. Paul echoes that sentiment by stating that “God works all things together for good for those who love God” (Rom 8:28). Unfortunately, the doctrine of redemptive suffering has been grossly misunderstood and misused in order to subjugate and perpetuate the abuse of women[2]. Women may be taught from a young age to meekly accept abuse, because all abuse is “the will of God.” A Christian woman may believe that she must suffer any and all domestic abuse in silence in order to be like Christ. She hopes that if she suffers “well enough”, then God will bring “redemption” out of her suffering. Peter’s teachings have likewise been twisted to say that Peter prescribed slavery as an acceptable practice, and that God wanted slaves to suffer in silence. The teaching of “redemptive suffering” must be carefully weighed in light of the whole of Scripture. At that time, women, children and slaves had few, if any, rights[3]. It must have been surprising that Peter addressed women and slaves directly in his letter (3:1-10). In actuality, Peter is reacting to the suffering that was going on, without prescribing or condoning this suffering. He points out that God will judge those who are abusing others (4:5-7, 17-18). Peter tells Christians to do their best to obey the law as it was then (3:1-10), even though Peter himself disobeys a legal order, telling him to stop preaching about Christ (Acts 4:18-20). Our laws today do not allow for any abuse of others. As Christians we are to obey the law as it is today, unless it directly contradicts Scripture. Christians are to follow the example of Christ, Paul, and Peter to call people into accountability (Luke 13:32, Matt. 23:27-28, John 19:11, Gal. 2:11-13, Acts 13:8 etc.). Holding others responsible for their actions is also a form of grace. There is even evidence that abusers were to be separated from the Christian community until they showed through their actions that they were truly repentant (1 Cor. 5:5). Peter’s teachings, it can be argued, refer to inevitable suffering, with no legal or human recourse[4]. Paul invoked his rights as a Roman citizen more than once (Acts 22:28, Acts 25:9-12). Paul also told slaves, “to get free if they could” (1 Cor. 7:21-22).  Paul and Peter were surely aware that the penalty for slave rebellion was crucifixion[5]. Peter, despite accusations of “disloyalty” to Rome, was not trying to lead a revolt against Rome. He seems to be encouraging and exhorting Christians on how to endure the suffering that they could not get away from. The doctrine of “redemptive suffering” should not be used as an excuse to abuse, subjugate or control another human being. Those who call themselves Christ followers must challenge, clarify and correct any misunderstandings of Peter’s teachings on suffering. How are we helping victims of domestic violence find help and hope? How are we confronting the abusers?

Peter’s message about suffering is not only still relevant; it is sorely needed in our world today. Social media is overloaded with images of the pain and misery, starvation, war, genocide, earthquakes, tsunamis, wild fires, mass shootings, extreme poverty, Ebola, AIDS and more. Peter teaches that some of this horror is caused by decisions that individuals make. Some of this pain is no one’s “fault.” Some tragedies are simply a part of living in a fallen world. Christ is, as always, our Example. Jesus left the comfort and plenty of heaven to enter into human suffering, including being hungry, thirsty, homeless, rejected and poor. He knew He would be condemned, tortured and killed. Yet He still came. Christ healed the sick, raised the dead, validated the outcasts, saved the sinners, fed the hungry and restored the broken, regardless of whether the suffering person “got themselves into that situation” or not. Christians are similarly called to enter into the suffering of others, to change a person’s destiny, regardless of what caused that suffering.

Peter and Christ both use the familiar imagery of “shepherd” and “sheep” to describe the relationship of Christ to the church, because this would have been something that most first century people would be familiar with. If this letter were written today, perhaps Jesus or Peter would use the imagery of a mother, who is missing a child. There is absolutely nothing she would not do to rescue her child. That mother would never give up fighting for the benefit and welfare of that child.

Christianity is unique in that we worship a God Who understands what it is to be human. Our God suffers. Likewise, Christians can still expect to experience persecution for their faith. Around the world, Christians are still being tortured or killed for their faith. In the western world, Christians can still expect some of the same persecution that is mentioned in the book of 1 Peter, including having their businesses boycotted, being ostracized for not participating in accepted cultural practices such as alcohol abuse and sexual promiscuity, or to be verbally abused on social media. Christians must actively face unavoidable pain with joy, hope, service, faith and persistence. The Church worldwide still needs this poignant reminder that at least some degree of suffering is inevitable and HOW a Christian suffers matters. Joy and suffering are not mutually exclusive. Christians can still come through suffering stronger and more Christ like, trusting in the good character of God and in His plan.”

[1] Tracy, “Domestic Violence in the Church.” pp. 276

 

Please let me know what you think! Love Trisha

church-and-abuse

 

Yes I’m a woman in ministry, ordained in 2006. And I’ve done weddings, funerals, baptisms, visitation….you name it. I am totally ok with working on a large staff of mostly males. But I have noticed a few challenges that I think female leaders in a church, may face more often than their male counterparts. What do you think? Am I right? Here’s my top ten things only female ministers will understand:

1. Oh no. I wore a dress today. Wearing that lapel Mic is going to be rough.

2. I am going to have to take these gorgeous shoes off if this prayer line gets any longer…and not because of a burning Bush.

3. Too many crying infants in this sanctuary. I’m going to have to go feed my own infant during worship and before my message, just to be safe.

4. After being up most of the night with a sick toddler, teething infant, I’m here on time for work, prayer service (a miracle) and no, I’m not feeling overly sympathetic that you, dear young intern, are too tired for these early mornings.

5. If it says, “all staff should attend”/be copied,  YES that should include me too.

6. After a church tragedy/death, yes I will need extra time to meet with my all female staff, because one will start crying and then they all will. Then they will need to start verbally processing their thoughts, emotions, and talking it out, encouraging each other-hugging. But together we will pull through and get it all done.

7. Another envelope came in the mail for “Reverend Scott and spouse”. He’s an I.T. Guy. But he thinks it’s really funny.

8. In college, people actually told me, “Oh honey, you’re a Children’s Pastoral major? Don’t be upset. You’ll meet someone.” When I first started dating Scott, a psych major, I heard, “I thought you said you felt called into ministry? Why would you throw that all away?” Lol

9. I am stressing so bad about the upcoming pastoral staff retreat. I have to coordinate the kid’s schedules, write out instructions for the sitter , make sure all the kid’s laundry is done, Scott’s lunches packed, dinner meals frozen, schools notified, dog meds laid out etc etc etc

10. Why oh why didn’t I remember to wear waterproof!!!! I always cry when I’m baptizing. And I’m in the tank today! Oh Lord, please help me wrestle that really big dude back up out of the water…..

How about you? Are you a woman in ministry? What are your pet peeves, funny or tender stories? God bless, and thank you all, men and women, for the ministry you do!

Love Trisha

Here is a great parent, child activity to help teach gratitude in an increasingly ungrateful world.

I don’t know about you, but this year was a rollercoaster at times of highs and bitter lows. And it can become easy, to focus on the negative, or to take all the good in our lives for granted- to not realize the beauty in our lives until it’s gone. Our American culture at times pushes us to be entitled, without even realizing it. So this November, I announced to our family, that we were going to cover a wall in our living room with butcher paper, and every single day before bed, we would write at least one thing we are thankful for. I got a box of brightly colored markers and we set up the large wall of paper. At first I got a few lame excuses, “oh mom, I don’t know what to write…..this is so different” But even after the first night, everyone has been having fun with it. And the best part? We all have to walk past that wall so many times a day, and just seeing it, reminds us all how amazing God is. And I love seeing my kids stop to read everything on the wall before we thank God at the end of the night. That visible reminder of God’s goodness changes your view of everything else that day…..God tells us in His Word to be thankful, and grateful, no matter the circumstances. We are to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” in our homes, and we as parents lead the way. What has God done for you and your family this year? This is the perfect week to stop, remember and say, “Thank You Lord”.

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Today my grandmother passed away. Even though she was 90 years old and in frail health, you are never really “ready.” My memories of grandma are of a fiery, passionate woman of God who loved gum drops, root beer and Burger King. She had the energy of a hyperactive chipmunk after 4 monster drinks. She was so full of life (and orneriness) we all thought she’d outlive us all! At 80 years old she was diagnosed with cancer and the doctor told her she would need a permanent port because she was not going to survive it. She answered, “Well, just because you said that, I’m going to beat this cancer- just to spite you!” And she did. She was cancer free by 82. When I was feeling down or someone had been nasty to me, she would “preach” at me, “You get that chin up right now young lady. You’re a child of God! You are a Stevens!” Grandma had a great singing voice and was also a good shot at the shooting range. A few years ago I had the privilege of riding the Badger Ferry with grandma and my kids- we had a blast, even though Grandma sneaked her tiny dog on board and ate doughnuts the whole trip.

We are weeks away from Thanksgiving. And these holidays will be without grandma. You do not get to choose when you lose someone. You do not get to choose (sometimes) when a church transition happens. You may not get to postpone a heartache until January.

Some of my dearest friends are in the middle of fiery trials and ordeals right now. My heart aches for 2 of my friends who had major tragedies last week. Another of my close friends is in a gut-wrenching church battle right now. Perhaps you too are facing a different kind of holiday season this year.

If you are having a fantastic holiday and so is everyone you know, fantastic.  That’s wonderful. But this blog may not be relevant for ya, at least not this year. I would like to have a word with those of you who may NOT be having a great holiday season right now….

Several years ago, Christmas Day- As my little 2 year old daughter began opening her third gift, I heard my phone ring. I was confused at first seeing that my phone wasn’t on; THEN I saw it was the on call phone. I picked up the phone and answered.  On the other line I heard the tired voice of an older man.  He asked me, “I want you to give me one good reason not to end it all right here and now.”  Hey family, I need to go outside for a bit. I need to take this.

You have probably heard it said that the Holidays are the hardest time of year for some people. When I was younger I never knew how true that was. Coming on staff at a large church, I thought the reason none of the staff wanted to be on call during the holidays was purely due to family obligations. But having holiday time with the family was only PART of the reason that the pastoral staff did not relish being on call for Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years. My first year, as the newbie on staff, I was on call during Christmas Day. It really changes your whole perspective on the holidays talking to people who are suicidal on Christmas. And your eyes are opened to the very large number people all around us who are hurting at the “happiest” time of the year.

Perhaps we are not as aware of this sadness in the church, because we have created a culture that says, “If you are really a good Christian, you will be happy all the time.  You will live in victory daily.”  This causes many Christians to hide their very real feelings, and the fact that they need a friend, because they are pretending to be “happy”. And some of these Christians wonder, “Is there something wrong with me, because I am not happy right now? Would other Christians understand or even be able to help?” We live in a broken, fallen world. The church and our American culture have created this artificial reality- that we are immune to heartbreak if we do the “right” things.  We can stay young, wealthy, have all we want and need.  As the poet aptly said, “Childhood is the Kingdom where nobody dies.” -Edna St. Vincent Millay. When you grow up, you begin to see, on planet earth bad things happen to ALL people, good, bad…etc. And if we will be honest, that is exactly what the Bible says- and what Jesus told us would happen: “In this world you WILL have trouble….they will persecute you and throw you out of synagogues for My Name’s sake….some of you will be delivered over to death…but the end is not yet etc etc etc” I do not believe Bible stories are just “stories”.  The accounts of certain lives are there for a reason! EVERY single one of the heroes and patriarchs of the Bible went through terrible times. And we are not exempt. We weren’t promised to be happy all the time.

I have two separate friends who lost their moms this year.  Another good friend lost a baby. One needs major heart surgery for herself, and she has 2 small children at home. I know they are going into the holidays uncertain.

I remember at least one holiday season that was  the worst time of my life.  I ended up curled up over the steering wheel of my car, listening to the sleet pelting the roof, outside of Lowe’s, crying my eyes out.  I knew I had to go home and make Christmas as wonderful as possible for my two young children.  But I remember thinking to myself, “Is this really Christmas for us this year??? This isn’t supposed to be how it is! Wait, where is the ‘holiday magic’ that somehow swoops in and makes this all ok?”

So if we know that the holidays are harder for us (even Christians) sometimes, then what can we do to get through the holidays on a difficult year? What can we do to help those in our lives who are struggling this season? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Know that you are not “bad” or “abnormal” to feel down at times during the holidays.  It is perfectly normal to be reminded of a loss at important events. It is normal to feel down, stressed and even blah. The thought of being on a huge emotional high through the whole holiday season is an unreasonable and unrealistic expectation for anyone.

2. You are not alone.  A lot of people have major lows during the holidays.

3. It is ok to go talk to someone and get help.  You owe it to yourself and your family to be honest and take care of YOU. That doesn’t make you less of a Christian, a strong person or a parent.

4. It is ok to have some happiness during the holidays even if you have had a major loss. Some people feel very guilty if they feel happy during the holidays if they have lost someone. It’s ok to laugh and have fun too…there’s no rule book for how you have to feel.  And more than likely the person or people you are missing would love to see you smile too.

5. Create some new traditions.  It is great to keep up old traditions. But one thing that is very healing after a loss is to incorporate a new tradition or two.  A tradition to remember the good that was, and a tradition to look forward to the good that will be. Which brings us to:

6. Remember that there WILL be better seasons to come. Everything in this life comes in seasons. In the middle of a tough holiday season, it is easy to think, “This is how things will be from now on. It will always be this way.”  But a good friend once told me, “There is life out there beyond this. And no it’s not the same as before.  But it’s a good good life.”  I hung on to that during a dark time, and it proved to be so true.  Life will continue to change; but good IS coming.  God’s Word promises us that God’s plans for us are GOOD.  And that “all things work together for GOOD for those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

7. Last but not least: Make a list of all you are thankful for. Now before you shriek, “Wait? You want me to be THANKFUL after the year I’ve had?” remember that pain can blind us to everything that is still good in our lives. Remember the story in the Bible about the widow and her two mites? Jesus said she gave more than anyone else because she gave all she had.  Perhaps the one who is sad on Thanksgiving, but who stops to thank God for all the good still in their life, is so very precious to God, because it probably takes everything they have. “In EVERYTHING give thanks, for this is the will of God.” It is easy for someone in a good year to be thankful; but if you’ve had a rough year, your thanks and praise are much more of a sacrifice.  And I have found that stopping to thank God, when there seems to be nothing going right, is when I seem to feel Him here, and sense His working the most.

Are you having a wonderful, fun filled Thanksgiving and Holiday Season? Fantastic! That’s great. Are this year’s festivities particularly difficult? I am wishing to send you a great big hug right now through my laptop and say, “you are loved, and good IS on the way”. God bless you this Thanksgiving and Christmas and all through this next year- whether a good or a bad year- may you feel Him with you, working in your life. Love Trisha  and P.S. Grandma, I love you. So glad you made it home. I will remember to keep my chin up.

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My apology letter to my body-

It dawned on me today that you and I have been together now for 41 years….more if you count growing time in the womb. Yes, we sure have seen a lot, been so many places and we’ve done quite a few amazing things. And you’ve been there, for each and every moment- the high and lofty pinnacles but also the dark ugly trenches of our life. They say when you are young, you think you are invincible, and you do things to your body that you will feel (and regret) in your later years. And I have been sitting here today, just thinking, that there were definitely times, I did not treat you very well. And there were times I took you for granted. Seems to me I have much to be sorry about (including all those years in the ring in karate, although that WAS fun, and I gave as good as I got!).

So dear body, here are just a few things I would like to apologize for, over these last 41 years:

1. Those 70+ hour work weeks. I drove you hard, and pushed you beyond what you were designed to do. You were screaming for mercy, and I gave you none. I put everyone’s needs ahead of yours. When I counseled others at work, I told them to take better care of themselves, and told them not to be so hard on themselves. But I did not extend that mercy to you. I did not want to let anyone down so I “did it all”- all the events at the kids’ school, sports, 70+ hours of work, date nights with the husband and much more. But when I thought I “got away with it”, I was really writing checks that my body couldn’t cash. And I thought you would just “take it”. Perhaps I thought that could just go on and on.

2. Ignoring your cries for help. frequent colds, flus, infections, ulcers, fatigue, migraines etc etc etc. You did everything you could to get my attention, to warn me, to get me to listen, to get me to change. And I would only lash you harder. And that reminds me of…..

When I was seventeen years old, driving to work one day, my trusty old Pontiac Grand Am began to act VERY strangely. Although I kept pressing the gas pedal further and further down, the car was slowing down. Finally I had the pedal all the way to the floor, but the car slowly ground to a halt. I was aggravated that my car would let me down like that. I was so sure it was the transmission that I told the mechanic not to bother doing too much to fix it. He graciously told me that he would look at it for me for free, just to confirm that the car was really toast before I sent it off for scrap. A few moments later, the mechanic came back out to the lobby and grabbed a quart of oil, then went back to my car. A minute later he came back and got ANOTHER quart of oil. This he repeated 2 more times. The last time he came back to the lobby, he glared at me. “Young lady, that will be 17.45 for the oil. I have never in my life ever seen a car that bone dry. It is literally a miracle that you didn’t destroy this car. Wasn’t the oil light on for awhile now? The engine heat signal? Didn’t you smell smoke?” Still in shock I stammered, “Well, yeah, but I thought it was like the check engine light that comes on and just stays on. And Dad said he checked the oil last year.” The man was horrified and disgusted (and rightly so) “Last year??? Honey, this car was screaming at you for help for some time and you ignored all the signals. Cars MUST have regular maintenance, including oil changes. Start listening to the signals, or you’ll do permanent damage to your car- or lose the car.” I realized in that moment, the car hadn’t let me down; I let the car down- I didn’t respond to the signals.

Body, many times when I got so mad at you for getting sick at the worst times, or being exhausted on a big work week- it really wasn’t that you let me down. I had let you down. I didn’t respond to the signals. You did not have what you needed to keep operating. Sometimes you were “bone dry” and I still slammed the pedal to the floor and yelled at you in exasperation while you finally ground to a halt. Years later I got a new car (and was VERY careful to get those oil changes and maintenance)- but I CANNOT go buy another you….you are the only body I have-the only one.

3. Underestimating your worth- oh the amazing things you do! No technology on earth can compare to this remarkable creation, the human body. Only days old in the womb, my heart started beating, and it has never stopped since. Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week without ever getting a break or a day off. So many automatic processes that I do not consciously control- hair and nails grow, food is digested, images I see are interpreted, I taste wonderful things. I have lost count of the germs and illnesses you have fought off; I am filled with wonder at how you build up so many immunities! And on top of that, wonder of wonders, you, my body, teamed up with God and made two brand new human beings- two beautiful babies that grew inside me, and delivered with shockingly little input from me. The autopilot there was amazing. It felt like having a car for 25 years and suddenly finding out it had a hidden hovercraft feature! And then after my children were born- NOTHING was in the right place! I would have SWORN my body was ruined forever. And I was so wrong- you pulled yourself back together and strong again in such relatively short time….no machine on earth could ever do that!

So dear body….what I wanted to say, is that I am sorry that I drove you so hard all these years, and thank you for continuing to serve me well. And I want to do and see so many more great things together for many years to come. So in this new year, I want to do a better job at treating you right. Giving you the rest, nutrition, exercise and laughter you need. Being a little more forgiving of those stretch marks and tired days. Most people’s new year’s resolution is to drive their body harder- but I like how much healthier I have been lately. I would rather give you what you NEED and trust your design. This is the start of a GREAT year to come….. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Ps 139:14, “You are altogether beautiful, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” Song of Songs 4:7

burnoutA Recent Research Paper of Mine for my Doctorate

(Please comment with your thoughts on this important subject! Bibliography at the end lists many more resources on leaders and burnout).

The Problem

Burnout has been defined as “emotional collapse or breakdown that sometimes comes as a result of stress.[1]” Unfortunately, stress can profoundly affect even those who serve the church. Ministers actually rank fairly high on the Maslach Burnout Scale[2] and the Francis Burnout Inventory[3]. In fact, clergy members rank on the same stress level as other occupations that serve the community, such as social workers, counselors and nurses[4]. Certain occupations, including pastoral ministry, have been found to be more inherently stressful than others[5]. The fallout of this stress manifests in the life of pastors in various ways.

Several modern studies have proven a direct correlation between stress[6] and increased physical health problems[7]. Ninety percent of pastors in a recent study reported chronic fatigue[8]. Fifty percent were overweight, twenty-three percent reported being obese. Most said that they had no time to eat well, exercise, or sleep adequately.

Younger pastors are more prone to burnout, and to leaving the ministry[9]. One study found that seminarians in their senior year, when given a stress test, scored an average of 348. This is alarming since the average population generally scores between 75-150 and a score of 300 is considered dangerously high[10]. These stressed out seminarians are often sent from school straight into a “high demand” church, without having learned any coping methods for dealing with stress. Older pastors who have managed to stay in the ministry for the long-term, were only able to do so because they developed effective coping methods for managing stress.

Female clergy do not have an advantage over their male counterparts when it comes to stress and burnout[11]. Several studies found that women and men are suffering from burnout equally[12]. Other studies argue that women’s stress is actually higher. Women do report a higher level of conflict and bullying in ministry. Some women report feeling added stress brought on by trying to be seen as “legitimate” in their role.

Studies did not find a significant difference in stress and burnout rates across ethnic lines[13]. However, it can be argued that much more research could be done on this subject. One study did find that African American pastors had higher emotional stability, and better coping mechanisms than Caucasian pastors. However, African American pastors scored lower for overall physical health[14].

One of the worst casualties of clergy burnout is the pastor’s family. Pastors rank third for divorces among professionals. When asked why they are leaving the ministry, 1/3 of ministers cited “family reasons”. This family stress is cyclical, in that ministerial stress exacerbates family stress, which in turn contributes to worsening loneliness and burnout.

The minister’s stress and burnout affects everyone around him or her, including his or her fellow staff members and the church body as a whole. Rather than being a local church problem, ministerial burnout is a universal church issue. The leader’s ministry will not be as effective because there is not enough mental, emotional or physical resources left to give to anyone else.

Once the pastor begins to “go numb” from burnout, then “depersonalization” often sets in[15]. This means that the pastor stops being able to truly care for their congregation or themselves properly. This is a negative coping method characterized by withdrawing from conflict and difficult situations rather than facing them. Whether a service or a program went well or was a disaster, he or she no longer cares.

One study found 75 percent of pastors report high stress and depression[16]. One-third report daily frustration and fatigue at even the thought of going into the church office. Two-fifths report being totally drained by their duties[17].

Studies varied greatly as to how many pastors are really contemplating leaving the ministry. One study found that 30 percent were thinking of leaving[18]. Another study said that 90 percent of pastors are thinking about quitting. Half of that second study group said they would definitely switch careers if they could[19]. The number one method listed by pastors for dealing with extreme stress and burnout is “getting out[20].” Given that many communities are already dealing with a shortage of pastors, with some pastors having to cover more than one parish, pastors leaving ministry due to burnout is a tragedy indeed.

Between 17 percent and 30 percent of pastors admit to engaging in dangerous coping methods such as alcohol or other “substances” to manage ministry stress[21].

 

The Causes of Ministerial Burnout

 

Too many leaders leave seminary and enter the ministry with clearly unrealistic expectations. This “role dysphoria”, which happens when talents and role expectations do not line up with the actual duties of the position, can quickly lead to frustration and burnout. Often the pastoral role is ill defined and varies by church, denomination and geographical area.

Several studies named “loneliness” as a key factor in clergy burnout[22]. Pastors reported not having friends or support systems or anyone outside the church to talk to. Spouses reported higher loneliness, but that could be because clergy are trying to appear “more spiritual.” Loneliness could be due to high expectations of the congregation[23], or inability to be completely transparent with people in the church. Rural pastors have a unique problem with loneliness due to depopulation of rural areas, and subsequent shrinking of their church membership as jobs move overseas[24].

Pastors consistently rated “church conflict” and “high demand” churches as major stressors. This conflict tends to become personal and persistent in nature, affecting the pastor’s home and personal life[25].

Modernization has also had several noticeable effects on the way we carry out ministry[26]. First, church attendance continues to be in decline in many countries around the globe[27]. Secondly, our contemporary parishioners may be more inclined to recognize secular authority over ecclesiastical authority. Thirdly, the church has adopted more secular (democratic) methods of governing that decrease the authority of the pastor[28]. Lastly, consumerism has also made its way into the walls of the church. Congregants may believe that they are “paying a pastor for goods and services” which they arbitrarily define[29].

One of the toughest times in a pastor’s life and ministry is when he or she is called upon to minister through a time of tragedy that affects their congregants and affects them personally[30]. This can happen when a hurricane, earthquake or other natural disaster strikes, causing loss of life and property. This can happen when a community has suffered a devastating act of violence, such as a mass shooting. The pastor may have lost their home or a friend or family member. Yet, the minister will still be expected to counsel their parishioners, to help congregants and community members find resources such as housing and food. The minister may feel obligated to ignore their own needs, to focus on the needs of others or of his or her own family. Pastors are visible public figures who are expected to outwardly present a message of hope no matter what they are personally going through. This is a particularly dangerous time for clergy marriages[31], which can fall apart due to neglect[32].

Pastors tend to be massive workaholics spending an average of 55 hours a week at the church office, but only 27 waking hours per week with their families[33]. This imbalance leads to increased family dysfunction, family breakdown and inability to cope. Many pastors report not having enough time to do all that they are expected to do. They definitely lack the time for reflection or self-care.

Burnout has been defined as “the result of mental fatigue.” Serving a congregation can be extremely emotionally draining[34]. This exhaustion is called “Compassion Fatigue”[35] and “Secondary Traumatic Stress” which describes the emotional drain that happens just by hearing and walking through the horror stories and the trauma of the people we counsel. Compassion fatigue has been found to come on suddenly as opposed to burnout which seems to build up over time.

Clergy members are “wearing too many hats.[36]” Possibly due to the breakdown of civil services, pastors are picking up a lot of counseling and social services. Even when other options are available, pastors feel obligated to self sacrifice. Since the church is one of the only multi-dimensional resource centers, parishioners are often going to their pastor before any other professionals. Pastors find themselves doing marriage, addiction and mental health counseling[37]. Pastors are helping people find resources such as housing, clothing and food. Pastor’s wives report working to keep the house, raise children and complete various “expectations” of the pastor’s wife[38].

Without clear boundaries, a pastor and their family suffers “boundary ambiguity” and becomes completely enmeshed in their parishioner’s lives and problems[39]. There is no life “outside of church.”  This can cause pastors to feel that they cannot leave town for vacations or family get togethers because their parishioners need them too much. On the other hand, pastors tend to uproot and move every few years, possibly due to burnout[40]. Each time the minister moves, they suffer the loss of their entire “world” (enmeshed environment within the church) and must start all over.

Pastors report having too few resources including finances. Pastors and their spouses tend to be well educated. However, the average salary for a minister in the United States has not changed in over 20 years[41]. Some cannot afford to seek professional help for themselves or their marriage. They cannot afford ongoing training or vacations.

 

Proposed Methods to Prevent or Treat Ministerial Burnout

 

Over and over again, studies have proven that spiritual resources were the most important factor is surviving ministry over the long haul[42]. Pastors who maintained the regular religious disciplines of attending worship services, prayer, and Bible study reported much lower levels of depression and burnout than pastors who did not regularly engage in spiritual practices[43]. This was the same for clergy spouses, however, pastor’s spouses reported feeling like they had fewer spiritual resources that the clergy person had[44].

Ministers need a strong commitment to physical and mental health, exercise, healthy eating, seeing the doctor regularly, sleeping, and taking vacations. Self-care needs to become a habit. Pastors who have survived burnout and have bounced back highly recommend taking sabbaticals and other times away to reflect and recover[45].

Finding a way to limit the enmeshment and put strong boundaries in place between church and home is crucial. This is part and parcel of reassessing priorities and committing to better time management. A pastor’s marriage and family have to have quality and quantity of time.

Strong support structures outside of the church can help a pastor adapt and flex to withstand adversity. This support structure should include ministry peers, the minister’s family, and perhaps a professional therapist. A minister needs to have a person they can speak honestly with and just be heard[46]. However, this should not spiral into a “venting” coping mechanism that becomes merely a focus on the negative. Also, this support structure should include the “secular” social services resources that exist in the community. The pastor must stop trying to “do it all.”[47]

Denominations and congregations need to implement more holistic training[48] at the seminary level. Young students need experienced mentors[49] who can guide them on how to cope with stress and how to develop reasonable boundaries[50]. Interventions can also be done when a pastor is in the middle of a ministry crisis[51]. In patient short term therapy has proven effective as well as sabbaticals[52]. Pastors also need ongoing training and support long after seminary. The key is to intervene with a variety of methods, not an either/or.

Job satisfaction, a feeling of being successful, of having control and having choices is so important to avoiding burnout[53]. Burnout can come with a feeling of powerlessness and failure. Ministers who had a strong internal sense of their own goals, their own calling and their own “merits” did much better in fighting off depression and burnout[54]. Those who adhered to external criteria for success, such as congregants’ expectations, tended to become frustrated and hopeless over time[55].

Pastors who scored higher in hope and resiliency had drastically lower levels of stress and burnout[56]. The innate challenges of ministry did not go away. Instead, the minister learned how to reframe difficult circumstances as a positive[57]. He or she could still envision a future where their internal goals could be met. Hope does not seem to be an inborn trait, but rather a fluctuating coping ability that gets stronger with conscious use. Hope and resiliency can come from learning how to recognize Christ in every situation.

 

In conclusion

 

Researchers agree that there has not been nearly enough study done in the area of ministerial burnout[58]. Since pastors are key figures in our churches, in our family lives and in our communities, it benefits us all when we learn how to better serve those who serve the church.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Abernethy, Alexis D., Gillian D. Grannum, Carolyn L. Gordon, Rick Williamson, and Joseph M. Currier. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” Spirituality in Clinical Practice3, no. 3 (2016): 175-86. doi:10.1037/scp0000109.

Adams, Christopher J., Holly Hough, Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, Jia Yao, and Melanie Kolkin. “Clergy Burnout: A Comparison Study with Other Helping Professions.” Pastoral Psychology66, no. 2 (2016): 147-75. doi:10.1007/s11089-016-072

Bevere, John. The Bait of Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense. Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2014.

Blanton, Priscilla W., and M. Lane Morris. “Work-Related Predictors of Physical Symptomatology and Emotional Well-Being among Clergy and Spouses.” Review of Religious Research40, no. 4 (1999): 331. doi:10.2307/3512120.

Chandler, Diane J. “Pastoral Burnout and the Impact of Personal Spiritual Renewal, Rest-taking, and Support System Practices.” Pastoral Psychology58, no. 3 (2008): 273-87. doi:10.1007/s11089-008-0184-4.

Darling, Carol Anderson, E. Wayne Hill, and Lenore M. Mcwey. “Understanding Stress and Quality of Life for Clergy and Clergy Spouses.” Stress and Health20, no. 5 (2004): 261-77. doi:10.1002/smi.1031.

Doolittle, Benjamin R. “The Impact of Behaviors upon Burnout Among Parish-Based Clergy.” Journal of Religion and Health49, no. 1 (2008): 88-95. doi:10.1007/s10943-008-9217-7.

Edwards, GeneA Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness. Augusta, ME, United States: Christian Books, 1980.

Fallon, Barry, Simon Rice, and Joan Wright Howie. “Factors That Precipitate and Mitigate Crises in Ministry.” Pastoral Psychology62, no. 1 (2012): 27-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-012-0486-4.

Feuerherd, Peter. “Groups Aim to Help Pastors and Strengthen Parishes.” National Catholic Reporter, July 15, 2016.

Harbaugh, Gary L., and Evan Rogers. “Pastoral Burnout: A View from the Seminary.” Journal of Pastoral Care38, no. 2 (1984): 99-106. doi:10.1177/002234098403800204.

Lee, Cameron. “Dispositional Resiliency and Adjustment in Protestant Pastors: A Pilot Study.” Pastoral Psychology59, no. 5 (2010): 631-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-010-0283-x.

Maslach, C. (2003). Job burnout: New directions in research and intervention. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12(5), 189–192. Maslach, C., Schaufeli, W. B., & Leiter, M. P. (2001). Job burnout. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 397–422.

Miner, Maureen H. “Changes in Burnout over the First 12 Months in Ministry: Links with Stress and Orientation to Ministry.” Mental Health, Religion & Culture10, no. 1 (2007): 9-16. doi:10.1080/13674670600841819.

Miner, M. H., Dowson, M. and Sterland, S. (2010), “Ministry orientation and ministry outcomes: Evaluation of a new multidimensional model of clergy burnout and job satisfaction.” Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 83: 167-188. doi:10.1348/096317909X414214

Muse, Stephen, Milton Love, and Kyle Christensen. “Intensive OutPatient Therapy for Clergy Burnout: How Much Difference Can a Week Make?” Journal of Religion and Health55, no. 1 (2015): 147-58. doi:10.1007/s10943-015-0013-x.

Ochberg, Frank. When Helping Hurts: Preventing and Treating Compassion Fatigue. Gift from Within, 2006.

Palmer. Let Your Life Speak. Listening for the Voice of Vocation. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2009.

Randall, Kelvin J. “Clergy Burnout: Two Different Measures.” Pastoral Psychology62, no. 3 (2013): 333-41. doi:10.1007/s11089-012-0506-4. 01/03/2013

Roll, Steve. Holy Burnout: Turning Brokenness into Blessing, through the Power of Gods Restoring Love. Tulsa, OK: Virgil W. Hensley, 1996.

Scott, Greg, and Rachel Lovell. “The Rural Pastors Initiative: Addressing Isolation and Burnout in Rural Ministry.” Pastoral Psychology64, no. 1 (2014): 71-97. doi:10.1007/s11089-013-0591-z.

Shelley, Marshall. Well-intentioned Dragons: Ministering to Problem People in the Church. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1994.

Sullivan, James E. The Good Listener. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2000.

Visker, Joseph D., Taylor Rider, and Anastasia Humphers-Ginther. “Ministry-Related Burnout and Stress Coping Mechanisms Among Assemblies of God-Ordained Clergy in Minnesota.” Journal of Religion and Health56, no. 3 (2016): 951-61. doi:10.1007/s10943-016-0295-7.

Warner, Janelle, and John D. Carter. “Loneliness, Marital Adjustment and Burnout in Pastoral and Lay Persons.” Journal of Psychology and Theology12, no. 2 (1984): 125-31. doi:10.1177/009164718401200206.

Wells, Carl R. “The Effects of Work-Related and Boundary-Related Stress on the Emotional and Physical Health Status of Ordained Clergy.” Pastoral Psychology62, no. 1 (2012): 101-14. doi:10.1007/s11089-012-0455-y.

[1] Abernethy, Alexis D., Gillian D. Grannum, Carolyn L. Gordon, Rick Williamson, and Joseph M. Currier. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” Spirituality in Clinical Practice3, no. 3 (2016): 175-86. doi:10.1037/scp0000109.

 

[2] Maslach, C. (2003). Job burnout: New directions in research and intervention. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12(5), 189–192. Maslach, C., Schaufeli, W. B., & Leiter, M. P. (2001). Job burnout. Annual Review of Psychology, 52, 397–422.

 

[3] Randall, Kelvin J. “Clergy Burnout: Two Different Measures.” Pastoral Psychology62, no. 3 (2013): 333-41. doi:10.1007/s11089-012-0506-4. 01/03/2013

 

[4] Warner, Janelle, and John D. Carter. “Loneliness, Marital Adjustment and Burnout in Pastoral and Lay Persons.” Journal of Psychology and Theology12, no. 2 (1984): 125-31. doi:10.1177/009164718401200206.

 

[5] Adams, Christopher J., Holly Hough, Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, Jia Yao, and Melanie Kolkin. “Clergy Burnout: A Comparison Study with Other Helping Professions.” Pastoral Psychology66, no. 2 (2016): 147-75. doi:10.1007/s11089-016-072

 

[6] Blanton, Priscilla W., and M. Lane Morris. “Work-Related Predictors of Physical Symptomatology and Emotional Well-Being among Clergy and Spouses.” Review of Religious Research40, no. 4 (1999): 331. doi:10.2307/3512120.

 

[7] Randall, “Clergy Burnout”, 334

 

[8] Lee, Cameron. “Dispositional Resiliency and Adjustment in Protestant Pastors: A Pilot Study.” Pastoral Psychology59, no. 5 (2010): 631-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-010-0283-x.

 

[9][9][9] Miner, Maureen H. “Changes in Burnout over the First 12 Months in Ministry: Links with Stress and Orientation to Ministry.” Mental Health, Religion & Culture10, no. 1 (2007): 9-16. doi:10.1080/13674670600841819.[10]

Harbaugh and Rogers. “Pastoral Burnout” 101

 

[11] Randall, “Clergy Burnout”, 337

[12] Lee, Cameron. “Dispositional Resiliency and Adjustment in Protestant Pastors: A Pilot Study.” Pastoral Psychology59, no. 5 (2010): 631-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-010-0283-x.

 

[13] Lee, Dispositional Resiliency” 341

 

[14] Lee, “Dispositional Resiliency.” 339

[16] Abernethy, et al. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” 182

 

[17] Lee, Cameron. “Dispositional Resiliency and Adjustment in Protestant Pastors: A Pilot Study.” Pastoral Psychology59, no. 5 (2010): 631-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-010-0283-x.

 

[18] Lee, “Dispositional Resiliency” 334

 

[19] Abernethy, et al. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” 185

 

[20] Randall, “Clergy Burnout”, 340

 

[21] Harbaugh and Rogers. “Pastoral Burnout” 101

 

[22] Harbaugh, Gary L., and Evan Rogers. “Pastoral Burnout: A View from the Seminary.” Journal of Pastoral Care38, no. 2 (1984): 99-106. doi:10.1177/002234098403800204.

 

[23] Abernethy, et al. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” 183

 

[24] Scott, Greg, and Rachel Lovell. “The Rural Pastors Initiative: Addressing Isolation and Burnout in Rural Ministry.” Pastoral Psychology64, no. 1 (2014): 71-97. doi:10.1007/s11089-013-0591-z.

 

[25] Bevere, John. The Bait of Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense. Lake Mary, FL: Charisma House, 2014.

 

[26] Lee, Cameron. “Dispositional Resiliency and Adjustment in Protestant Pastors: A Pilot Study.” Pastoral Psychology59, no. 5 (2010): 631-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-010-0283-x.

 

[27] Harbaugh and Rogers. “Pastoral Burnout” 105

 

[28] Visker, Joseph D., Taylor Rider, and Anastasia Humphers-Ginther. “Ministry-Related Burnout and Stress Coping Mechanisms Among Assemblies of God-Ordained Clergy in Minnesota.” Journal of Religion and Health56, no. 3 (2016): 951-61. doi:10.1007/s10943-016-0295-7.

 

[29] Shelley, Marshall. Well-intentioned Dragons: Ministering to Problem People in the Church. Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1994.

 

[30] Abernethy, et al. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” 180

 

[31] Warner and Carter,  “Loneliness, Marital Adjustment,” 130

 

[32] Abernethy, et al. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” 180

 

[33] Darling, Carol Anderson, E. Wayne Hill, and Lenore M. Mcwey. “Understanding Stress and Quality of Life for Clergy and Clergy Spouses.” Stress and Health20, no. 5 (2004): 261-77. doi:10.1002/smi.1031.

 

[34] Blanton and Morris, “Work-Related Predictors,” 331

 

[35] Ochberg, Frank. When Helping Hurts: Preventing and Treating Compassion Fatigue. Gift from Within, 2006.

 

[36] [36] Scott and Lovell. “The Rural Pastors Initiative,” 78

 

[37] Fallon, et al. “Factors That Precipitate and Mitigate.” 38

 

[38] Warner and Carter,  “Loneliness, Marital Adjustment,” 130

 

[39]  Scott and Lovell. “The Rural Pastors Initiative,” 93

38Fallon, Barry, Simon Rice, and Joan Wright Howie. “Factors That Precipitate and Mitigate Crises in Ministry.” Pastoral Psychology62, no. 1 (2012): 27-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-012-0486-4.

 

[40] Fallon, et al. “Factors That Precipitate and Mitigate,” 36

[42]  Scott and Lovell. “The Rural Pastors Initiative,” 95-96

 

[43] Abernethy, et al. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” 180

 

[44] Warner and Carter,  “Loneliness, Marital Adjustment,” 135

 

[45] Fallon, Barry, Simon Rice, and Joan Wright Howie. “Factors That Precipitate and Mitigate Crises in Ministry.” Pastoral Psychology62, no. 1 (2012): 27-40. doi:10.1007/s11089-012-0486-4.

 

[46] Sullivan, James E. The Good Listener. Notre Dame, IN: Ave Maria Press, 2000.

 

[47] Doolittle, Benjamin R. “The Impact of Behaviors upon Burnout Among Parish-Based Clergy.” Journal of Religion and Health49, no. 1 (2008): 88-95. doi:10.1007/s10943-008-9217-7.

 

[48] Harbaugh and Rogers. “Pastoral Burnout” 101

 

[49] Miner, “Changes in Burnout.” 10

 

[50] Randall, “Clergy Burnout”, 337

 

[51] Feuerherd, Peter. “Groups Aim to Help Pastors and Strengthen Parishes.” National Catholic Reporter, July 15, 2016.

 

[52] Muse, Stephen, Milton Love, and Kyle Christensen. “Intensive OutPatient Therapy for Clergy Burnout: How Much Difference Can a Week Make?” Journal of Religion and Health55, no. 1 (2015): 147-58. doi:10.1007/s10943-015-0013-x.

 

[53] Harbaugh and Rogers. “Pastoral Burnout” 101

 

[54] Palmer. Let Your Life Speak. Listening for the Voice of Vocation. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, 2009.

 

[55] Doolittle, Benjamin R. “The Impact of Behaviors upon Burnout Among Parish-Based Clergy.” Journal of Religion and Health49, no. 1 (2008): 88-95. doi:10.1007/s10943-008-9217-7.

 

[56] Abernethy, et al. “The Pastors Empowerment Program: A Resilience Education Intervention to Prevent Clergy Burnout.” 180

 

[57] Edwards, GeneA Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness. Augusta, ME, United States: Christian Books, 1980.

 

[58] Warner and Carter,  “Loneliness, Marital Adjustment,” 130

 


Right now, I hold in my hands the brand new book Rise Up: Choosing Faith Over Fear in Christian Ministry by my friend and fellow author Vanessa Myers. What an honor to be on her blog tour this fall! What Vanessa has to say is badly needed among ministry leaders right now. I do believe that the number one reason we feel held back in our ministries is NOT lack of budget, talent or motivation. Our worst hindrance in ministry is FEAR. And I like the fact that Vanessa calls that out like it is. She points out that it is usually not “everyone” who is against us-it’s out own fear that we will be rejected or left lonely. It is not that our ministry is not wanted, we are AFRAID that it will not be wanted, or that no one will listen- or worse- that we will FAIL. My favorite part of Vanessa’s book is when she starts calling out all the excuses we use for not stepping out to do bigger things for God, the things we are really feeling called of God to do. “People will reject me” “I’m not a good enough speaker” “I’m afraid of my boss,” “I just can’t get over my hurt”etc. She shares from Scripture that our favorite Bible heroes faced fears, failures, dangers, loss, hurt, inexperience, frustration, disabilities and more- and yet God used them to do amazing things. God planned to use them all along and it is about His power, not our weakness. They had to get over their fear and step out. And so do we. What would be possible in our ministries right now if we could just get over our fear and RISE UP into all that God has planned for us? The time is here to find out. Take the time TODAY to order Vanessa’s book. Take that first step toward overcoming fear and letting God use you on a whole new level! God bless you and your ministry today and always, love Trisha Peach J

Yes I’m angry. More importantly, I’m motivated.

I am a wife, a mother, a doctoral candidate, an author, a life-long educator- and a proud native of the Badger State. Before 2016, I never spoke up about politics. After the disastrous Kavanaugh vote/circus, I literally walked into my local GOP office and said, “What can I do to help? I’ll make phone calls, go door to door, put up signs- What can I do?” My mother and sister are doing the same in their counties. I do not vote for a certain personality or gender, but rather for whichever candidate better represents my deeply held convictions on the issues. I am passionately pro-school choice (Wisconsin has always led the nation in charter school excellence), pro free speech, pro lower taxes, pro smaller government with more accountability, pro fiscal responsibility, pro immigration reform, pro law enforcement and veterans. The DNC has gone so far to the left- sky high taxes, radical socialism, “Impeach 45!”, doxxing- they have left families like mine far behind. Yes, I’ll be voting RED this 11/6. And at this point, I’d crawl over broken glass barefoot-Die Hard style- to do it.

Trisha