Friday, July 14, 2006
An interesting problem that I'm only now just exploring is that of clergy burnout. As far as problems go, this is not a huge one, but it's still a problem. Here's a very interesting, scientific study of pastoral wellness from the Alban Institute: "Reflections on the Study of Clergy Burnout". Expect to see a few more articles like this linked to in the days ahead.
The reason this problem fascinates me is many fold, but mainly because I've had so many horrible, vicious struggles with mental well-being in my own life, most of it in regards to deppression. (And I'm not even a pastor!) I easily relate to those who are feeling overwhlemed by life, as I've felt overwhelmed by life most of my own life.
Also, I'm wondering if the traditional pastoral model might be showing some signs of weakness here in the 21st century. Our world is becoming far more complex and challenging as each day passes, and many of us (including myself) are being left in the dust by the rapid pace of technological and economic changes.
My take is that the world, as a whole, is becoming an increasingly hostile place to live, and I'm NOT talking about terrorism and global warming! Rather, the hostility I'm refering to is the increasing tendency of goverments and churches to disregard the well-being of those who are on the lower-end of the economic spectrum. Yes, the rich truly are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer, and that rift is increasing at a break-neck pace each and every year.
People like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates are being trumpeted and celebrated in the media (especially the Wall Street Journal) for their TREMENDOUS giving of money to fight AIDS, illiteracy, and some of the other structural problems of the world.
Now I do believe that AIDS, etc., are evil and it would be better world without them; but let's be real: AIDS, illeteracy, and so on are the symptoms of a much worse problem; a much worse sickness of the human soul. You can make a person physically well, give them an education, and even clean food and water, but if the sickness in their soul remains, then all you've done is to put a band-aid on a terrible, wasting tumor. As an old saying goes, you can give someone who steals railroad spikes an education, but all you've done is teach him how to steal entire railroads.
That's where the good news of the Gospel comes into play. It is the Gospel, and ONLY the Gospel, that has the power to heal us in the inward places. It alone has the power to heal the hurts and wounds of our soul.
And what exactly is "the Gospel?" Why, it's none other than the person of Jesus Christ, and what he has done for us.