According to Lifeway Research, 18% of pastors say they face depression in their ministries. Josh Goepfrich, pastor of Hilltop Community Church, joins Ben Mandrell, president and CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources, to discuss the Greatest Needs of Pastors study and ways to handle depression in ministry.
Ben Mandrell: Pastors identify depression and lack of commitment as being among one of their top mental challenges. Are you surprised by that?
Josh Goepfrich: I’m not. I think all of us deal with depression in one way, shape, or form. I think part of the problem that we have as pastors is we think that we’re above it, or we can’t really step into that because we feel like we’ll fail the church. And, may I be so bold to say the church doesn’t need us as their savior. We already have one.
And it’s hard to be a pastor and realize you’re also part of the flock. And it’s a dual thing that the church doesn’t necessarily understand. So I think that’s one of the wonderful things that we— as Southern Baptists— have about our associations and our state conventions. They allow us to have people to talk to and places like Lifeway that has worked with Focus on the Family for that kind of counseling stuff, if I remember correctly.
Ben Mandrell: Well, emotional health has become a big deal among pastors. Because as the pastor goes, as we know, so goes to church. I do think we’re trying to do more at Lifeway to try to bring awareness to the ongoing struggle of staying encouraged, particularly through an enduring season like this.
Josh Goepfrich: And one of the things, Ben, I think is important is to realize that depression doesn’t just hit us as pastors. It hits our wives. And there aren’t as many tools available to them— or at least we may think so. And taking care of our wives’ health and mental health is big in taking care of our own.
Ben Mandrell: Absolutely. I know a lot of state conventions are now offering six sessions of counseling for pastors and wives free every year. I wish every pastor would take advantage of that.
Josh Goepfrich: That’s amazing. I wish every pastor would know it’s available.
Ben Mandrell: And I think one of the things we’re realizing as I’ve talked to state convention leaders is either people don’t know it’s available or they know, and they don’t use it. So it’s hardly ever used.
Josh Goepfrich: Right. It’s almost like that thing in the dark corner that I don’t want people to know about, because if they find out, then there’s a stain on me— instead of realizing that allows us to preach the word with better accuracy of application.
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