I’m not talking about physical health, but emotional health. I’ve been reviewing Ron Richardson’s book, Becoming a Healthier Pastor, which I bought and read several years ago. I’m teaching an intensive course this week at Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and it’s one of the texts. The subtitle is: “Family Systems Theory and the Pastor’s Own Family.”

Richardson addresses the complexity of the ways our family story impacts our ministry, and suggests an approach that can shift the intensity. Here’s a sample quote: “When a pastor needs to have people get better or have situations resolved quickly, it often means an issue of competence is involved. If the pastor tries to move things along, becoming impatient with the slowness of others, then this could well be an unresolved issue from family. If the pastor is trying harder to get a good outcome than the ones who are more directly involved in the problem, the pastor has become a part of the problem.” I can only say, “ouch!”

Learning about the unseen forces from our family life that can drive us in ministry takes time. Richardson suggests engaging with members of our family of origin in ways that don’t try to fix or change them. I’d say that alone can begin to shift our overfunctioning approach to our ministry and lead to greater health.

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