Episode #37 PURSUING EMOTIONAL HEALTH DURING CRISIS WITH DR. JAMES HAWKINS
Dr. James Hawkins talked to the guys about how to stay emotionally healthy as a leader during a time of crisis.
Q: Is it okay for us to feel emotionally off right now as leaders?
A: Absolutely, 100%. God has wired us to understand that emotions are signals which help us to respond to the world around us.
Pastors carry the emotional burdens of the congregation as well as their own.
There are some good things that have come from Covid19
- Slower pace of life
- Spending time with family
Q: What are some additional warning signs we might need to pay attention to that signal we need to seek help?
A: One of the things to pay attention to is a tendency to stuff emotions, ignore them or stay in their heads intellectually or theologically. Emotional avoidance is a key sign to pay attention to – pastoring is work that is done in times of crisis and stress. Extreme fatigue, irritability with others, inability to sit in silence. Emotional suppression = you trying to be God. God gave us emotions as signals to understand how to relate to others and respond to situations. When we turn emotions off, we are not acting in concert with the way God has made us.
Q: Sometimes in our homes of origin we learn or are told to suppress or not feel, how do we begin to reverse that?
A: We often become emotionally avoidant because of the hurt we experienced when we took a risk to be vulnerable. We were told; “don’t feel that way.” “We don’t do that.” When in pain if we reach out and receive a pain message back-we put our vulnerability away. When we do this-we lose the ability to be comforted. How do we reverse this? We need to tune into our emotions. First, bring that vulnerability to God, ask for reassurance and then reach out to others so that we are not alone-we bring our vulnerability to safe others in the context of community.
Q: What are some ways Pastors can learn to not sacrifice their families during a time of intense crisis with incredible demands?
A: You have to be in tune with your own emotional struggles – ministry is difficult. One thing to do is to invite your family in-let them know of your work and struggle. Your wife is your helper-invite her and let her in, she is your helper and companion. A good question to have her ask you is: “How are you doing today?” Second, help your children understand how God us working in and through you-how you are being pressed, what you are learning. Help them have a shared experience with you as you minister. Third, your family is your primary support unit-your safe haven. You have to lean into that and find comfort and support in your family. A pastor should never seek to have his emotional needs met by the congregation he serves.
Q: Some pastors may be at their end, they may feel like they can’t go on-how should they respond?
A: You have to accept that as a Pastor you will experience and feel burnout, this is part of ministry. Burnout is often a sign of the seriousness of the work that you are doing. Given that, what should you do now? Jesus even felt heaviness, Elijah was exhausted and depressed – who are we to think that we won’t feel the same. We need to build in moments to reset. Getting away, taking a break every week, doing what it takes to renew yourself. These are very important practices for pastors.
Q: What are some practical next steps a Pastor can take during a time like this?
A: The spiritual discipline of getting in tune with your inner world. For instance the questions God asked Adam after he sinned are helpful for us: Adam, where are you? (The connection question-where am I at in relationship to God, family, church, others, self) Who told you that you were naked? (The influence question-who/what is influencing you? What standard are you accepting as your measure?) What is this that you have done? (The responsibility question-am I taking personal responsibility?)
Check out Dr. James’ podcast; A More Excellent Way
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