Why pastors need friends too

Recently I had one of those “aha” moments that causes you to sit back, take stock and re-evaluate your life. Being relatively new to social media, it was refreshing to discover how many friends I had on Facebook. That is until I scrolled down and discovered that many of them were unknown strangers. Read more


How to properly process loss

The older I get, the more I understand about loss simply because I have experienced it more. If I had written this article when I was 20, I may have had a few valuable things to say, but I wouldn’t have really known what I was writing about.

Generally, when we speak of loss, we think of the physical death of someone we’ve loved. Most of us know the ache of saying goodbye to someone precious. I understand that kind of loss; I’ve lost my father, my mother, my brother and several dear friends. These were deep, life-changing losses for me.

But loss is so much broader than just physical death. Read more


Good leaders retreat

Good leaders don’t always advance, sometimes they retreat.

Great leaders retreat really well.

Escaping the pressure of leadership for a time of evaluation and recalibration is critical. Good leaders know this. In my context, the pastors I most respect who have done some of the most profound work for the kingdom are the ones who have learned the art of retreating well. They make it a habit and they don’t violate the practice. Read more


Pursuit of sexual integrity as a church leader

How do we approach the pursuit of sexual integrity when we feel like we are risking everything by doing so? Unpacking this issue can feel like opening Pandora’s box. The uncertainties of what the consequences may be can feel daunting, yet the inner cry for release from the gripping hold and bondage constantly war against each other. Read more


Depression: Who really understands it?

Over the last few years, we have become more informed about mental health concerns with a great deal of focus on depression. Some of our information has come from reading books, speaking to experts in this field and attending a couple of seminars. While that information is extremely important, it still leaves a broad measure of unknowns.

This, however, is what we know: a person can be diagnosed with clinical/endogenous depression or reactive depression. Read more


Dealing with a wounded soul

Do you ever struggle with truly feeling loved? Loved by God? Loved by your spouse? Loved by those you love? In your head, maybe you know that people love you or God loves you, but it might not always translate into your heart or soul.

Or maybe you are puzzling over why there are people in your church who, in spite of hearing for years how much God loves them, still find it difficult to internalize that truth? Read more


The purpose of burnout: An interview with Dr. Archibald Hart

Dr. Archibald Hart is dean emeritus in the department of clinical psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary. He has written close to 30 books, many which deal with stress, burnout and depression. His passion is to see healthy pastors in ministry. Over the years, he has participated in Focus on the Family’s clergy ministry.

Jerry Ritskes and his wife, Renee, are the past directors of our Clergy Care retreat centre at Kerith Creek near Calgary. Their passion is self/soul and marriage care in ministry.

Dr. Hart and Jerry sat down to discuss burnout. Here is their conversation. Read more


Pastor Joe’s no good, so sad, very bad day

Pastor Joe sat listlessly in his office all morning, grateful for his administrative assistant who had agreed to hold all of his calls and give him privacy for the sermon preparation. As he glanced at the clock, he realized that he had done little but stare off into space for the past three hours. He felt drained, discouraged, numb and exhausted, even though he had not spent any energy at all. The thought of having to preach on Sunday made him feel almost panicky and he wanted nothing more than to run away and hide. Read more


Ministry blues?

As a pastor, do you experience weekly periods of “down” moods following Sunday’s high energy tasks or after a season of intense ministry?

It has been suggested that depression is high among pastors. I don’t have reliable statistics that prove that one way or the other, but I do know that pastors are subject to many factors that can make them very vulnerable to mood disorders. Read more


The pastor’s need to rest and retreat

When you get asked how you are, do you find yourself proudly (but with some frustration) answering that you are “busy”? There is a world to win, programs to organize, people to train and a church to maintain. No wonder ministry is so busy. We are short on finances, people and time. It seems the only way to make it is to work a little bit harder.

Focus on the Family Canada operates Kerith Retreats, two retreat and renewal centres for people in vocational ministry. Here we see all kinds of busyness and the trail of frustration and confusion it leaves in its wake. While I am not advocating laziness, we’ve somehow convinced ourselves that being busy is equal to being faithful. Busyness in ministry is not faithfulness. Read more