The Road to Recovery

Pastor James Petersen, ReachGlobal Director of Personnel for Missionaries

The Long Road from Ministry Injury to Recovery

How God uses others to lead us to spiritual healing (from the EFCA blog)

As I left the church building, I was physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. I resigned my position as senior pastor and didn’t know if I’d ever serve as a pastor again. Though all parties involved carried out my departure honorably—and I was departing of my own accord—I had a bitter taste in my mouth and a cynical attitude in my heart.

For three years, I had found myself in the center of a church conflict that was both painful and damaging. It was personal at times, and my family and I were injured. I witnessed people whom I loved and served turn against me, unfairly accuse me and question my integrity. It was a small and murmuring constituency, but over time, their behavior—unchecked by the elders—escalated, increasing my stress and moving me toward burnout.As pastors, we know that, sometimes, pain will be directed at us and result in pain for us.TWEET

In his book, Clergy Self-Care, Roy M. Oswald distinguishes between these two forces—stress and burnout. Stress results in loss of perception, loss of options, fatigue, depression and illness. Burnout follows stress and results in exhaustion, cynicism, disillusionment and self-deprecation.

Amid that stress and burnout, I had a sense of God’s presence and peace, but the exhaustion, cynicism and self-deprecation remained. The church graciously provided me a season of salary and benefits, for which my family and I will always be grateful, but financial stability couldn’t resolve those lingering effects. I needed to face the injury and find healing.

During the year that followed, I stepped away from pastoral ministry. In this time, God gradually brought me to a place of forgiveness and hope that allowed me to return to serving as a pastor once again.

Click here to continue reading about the Recovery Shepherds the Lord brought to James.

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