In the comics, superheroes are always ready to help. Even if they’ve gone back to their place—their Bat Cave, or whatever—they’re happy to go back out and save the world. Clergy have a tendency to try and be superheroes. Sure, it’s our day off, but we can go in for that meeting. We were supposed to do something with our family this evening, but if someone needs us, we cancel and rush back out the door. Emergencies happen and it’s our job to be there. But we aren’t superheroes, we are flesh and blood humans. Eventually the missed days off, the canceled R&R, and the stress all take a toll on us.
We need to practice good mental health. We have resources: our colleagues, our lay leaders, family, friends, and when needed, other professionals. As clergy, it is important that we support each other and work together in our communities. We can and should seek out leaders in our own congregation to share our ministry. We need to commit to spending time with friends and family away from our ministry and let them help us handle the stress of the job. And finally, we should be seeking professional help from spiritual directors and mental health professionals when necessary. They can help us find solutions for problems and give us places to unload some of the burden.
No, we aren’t superheroes. But we can do wonderful things in the church when we seek and receive support from God and from others.
The Rev. Alan Leonard
Rector, Church of the Advent
Cape May, NJ
Photo: The Rev. Dr. Caroline Carson