According to the Duke University Clergy Health Initiative, in 2019 (before COVID), signs of depression in clergy increased by almost 3%. During the same year, diagnosable anxiety increased by 5%. Also, rates of obesity are higher in clergy by as much as 11% than they are in the general population, and it is not just potlucks responsible for that statistic!
This is all to say that those who lead your flock need you as much as you need them. They need your support, concern, and affirmation. Each year, October is Clergy Appreciation Month, and it is my prayer that your PPR/SPR committee will find a way to show your gratitude for those who labor to care for you and for your congregations. I am sure you have many creative ideas regarding how to do this, but just in case, I offer a few practical suggestions:
As someone who has spent half of his life as an ordained United Methodist pastor, I can tell you that ministry in the local church has been a source of tremendous blessings for me. At the same time, helping bear the burdens of those entrusted to my care can also be a source of stress, as I have shared in the hope, the suffering, the confessions, and the moments of transformative joy of my people. Through it all, a constant has been that I have found myself buoyed by even the smallest acts of gratitude from the congregations I have served. I pray that this month, you will be able to bless those who bless you, as week after week, they wear the mantle of "pastor."
I give thanks to God for each of you in my prayers.
Grace and peace,