Clergy Wellness -- What can lay-women do?

• Be It Therefore Resolved that Disciples clergy be encouraged to model ministries of self-care as reflected in their spiritual disciplines of well-being and as reflected in their attention to intellectual, emotional, physical, social/interpersonal, vocational and spiritual activities.

Generally speaking, as a group clergy are great at providing care to others. Many, you might say, thrive on the need to be needed. Perhaps they would not have answered the call to ministry if there were not the urge to serve and help others. And the congregation naturally loves and appreciates this service. They should. This is a good thing. However, high stress, lack of diversity of interests, guilt about time management over a job never done…these are all bad things. And this takes its toll on the pastor!

Think about it. The schedule of a clergy-person is dependent on the schedules of the people he or she is serving. They are expected to be available for all evening meetings, and Saturday church workdays. They are expected to be at the bedside of the sick and ailing church member. They are part custodian, part office administrator, part hospital chaplain, part Sunday school teacher, a participant in Regional and/or General Ministries of the church, and, oh yes, they need to be sure to ...

by The Rev. Deb Strock-Kuss

Ordained minister in The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Indianapolis, Indiana

(used with permission)

The statistics are grim. According to a Resolution presented to the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Fort Worth in July, 2007:

The Resolution concludes with, among other things, the following:

• An estimated 60%-70% of Disciples clergy are clinically obese, which over time leads to a variety of health issues that make vibrant leadership more challenging.

• The medical pathologies that have resulted in the long term disability of pastors and lay employees, as measured by disability benefits provided through the Pension Fund of the Christian Church in 2006 were Depression, Arthritis, Nervous Disorders, Cardiovascular Disorders, Cancer, Back Disorders, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Liver Disease, and Diabetes. Many of the disabling pathologies can also be linked to unmanaged stress.

• The medical pathologies that have resulted in the greatest dollar outlay for medical services as measured by Christian Church Health Care Benefit Trust in 2006 were, Hypertension, Coronary Artery Disease, Diabetes, Depression, Congestive Heart Failure, Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease,  and Cancer. Each of the pathologies is either a direct result of, or greatly exacerbated by, stress and obesity.

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