faith Mental Health Recovery Religious Recovery The Struggle With Church

Self-Care for Church Workers. Step One: Breathe.

Ten years of ministry really took a toll on me. I’m not supposed to admit that, right? But it’s the truth. And it’s about more than just the politics of religion. It’s not just about the back door meetings or the working to appease the tiny group of members that makes up the largest number of monthly contributions. It’s not just about the arguments over theology or the most-appropriate style of worship.
Self-Care for Ministry Workers

It’s about a lack of self-care. It’s about there never being enough time to complete all the projects and there never being enough people to help. It’s about the 5% of ministry volunteers who seem to do 95% of the work.

And it’s about a lack of boundaries.

Church workers are scared to say “no”, because, “look what Jesus has done for us!” But friends, that’s about the most ridiculous rationale ever.

Look at the words of Jesus, from Matthew 11:29-30:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

You have a call, directly from Jesus, to love yourself. Sure, you should love God and your neighbor, but it is your responsibility to do whatever it takes to cultivate good mental health habits and support yourself as a whole person: mind, body, and spirit.

I was a youth pastor when I nearly died by suicide. I was exhausted, taking terrible care of myself, and overwhelmed with shame, fear, and guilt. This is a little story about that.

Click here to read this story about why it’s important to give yourself space to breathe, especially if you’re in ministry. Click here to read my story.

By Steve Austin

Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.