In nearly two decades of vocational ministry, I’ve experienced the wounds and weariness that we pastors endure. Ministry hurts. It’s hard to remain resilient. But, ministry itself is not the issue. It’s the what, how and who. What patterns keep us healthy? How do we maintain a sense of hope? Who are the trusted confidants that come alongside to encourage and exhort us?
These are questions I explore with my pastor friends and coaching clients. They are borne out of lessons that I learned the hard way. I went to an excellent seminary (Covenant Theological in St. Louis). I gained a great deal of knowledge. When my family moved to a new city to plant a church in 2009, I was not fully prepared for the challenges of pastoral ministry. During ten years of church-planting and previous years serving in a variety of roles, the Lord gently and graciously exposed my shortcomings while also shaping my character and sharpening my mind.
In those early days…My emotional intelligence was a bit lacking. I hadn’t established healthy patterns of work and rest. My boundaries were unclear. I didn’t have reasonable expectations for myself or others. My tendency to feel profound shame was not addressed. I was prone to facing my deepest struggles alone. Of course, I was wounded and weary. It makes sense that I was always anxious and exhausted. It should come as no surprise that I burned out.
When I stepped down from my role in the church plant in August of 2020, the level of burnout became apparent as well as the heavy toll ministry had taken on my family. As I began processing my pain and taking steps to get healthier, the Lord gave me a new calling and opportunity. The care of pastors.
That’s how Fresh Hope for Pastors got its start. Pastor Brad and I share a burden for pastors and their families. We have experience and expertise that enables Fresh Hope to be a blessing for ministry leaders. We know how to help pastors develop new skills and healthier habits. Fresh Hope for Pastors offers insight and strategies that will keep leaders hopeful when life and ministry seem overwhelming. We are committed to creating an atmosphere online and in-person where pastors and spouses can benefit from peer-to-peer support.
One of our programs is called Healing the Heart Wounds of Ministry. Over the course of a two-and-a-half day retreat, ministry couples have the rare privilege to speak freely about the joys and pains of the pastorate. Participants are introduced to ideas and tools that aid them in addressing grief and trauma. They learn to understand their emotions on a deeper level while also considering strategies for overcoming negative feelings that hinder them in life and work. Healing the Heart Wounds of Ministry serves as a balm for the soul and a resource that cultivates maturity and increases resilience.
As we engage with pastors through retreats, cohorts and other means, the mission of Fresh Hope for Pastors is to equip church leaders with the necessary tools and support for a lifetime of fruitfulness even as they experience the professional and personal challenges of pastoral ministry. We are committed to nurturing the spiritual, relational, emotional, and mental well-being of church leaders and their loved ones, so they will enrich the vitality of their churches and ministries.