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Who pastors the pastor?

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Sept. 8, 2012 at 4:08 a.m.

Jon Carmona

Minister. Pastor. Reverend. Priest.

No matter their title, these holy professionals share the same role - to spiritually counsel and guide congregational members.

Ministers are charged daily with maintaining a spiritual bite, so they're ready at all times to meet the needs of whomever comes calling.

But who pastors the pastor when they're in need of similar guidance? Who do they seek when they're in need of prayer and holy counsel?

Here's what five area clergy have to say about where they go for pastoral care, and how they deal with balancing their professional and personal Christian life.

The Rev. Jonathan Carmona

Jerusalem Family Praise Center, Unified Pentecostal Local Churches International

When I was at Southwestern University, I took a pastoral counseling class and learned a shocking statistic - pastors are among the top demographic of career fields of people who commit suicide. The reason? They don't have someone to talk to about their own problems. While they're ministering to others, nobody ministers to them. It was suggested to us that we become close friends with pastors of other denominations so we have that spiritual guidance, and a different perspective to situations we may face. I've been blessed to befriend many ministers from the Assemblies of God, as well as Church of God, Baptist and Catholic denominations ... and I've personally gone to several of my former professors from Southwestern University for guidance and help.

The Rev. Suzanne F. Isaacs

First United Methodist Church El Campo

I go to fellow pastors, or groups that meet for the purpose of helping each other. I may also visit with lay leaders, spiritual directors and those trained to talk to you about spiritual matters. And I will go to friends and family and ask for prayer.

When you're a pastor, you have to be "on" all the time, and I find that I have to observe my day off because Sunday is not a day off for me. I make sure to reserve time for prayer and Bible reading that is not intended for sermons.

Sometimes people are intimidated to pray and counsel pastors, but I have found that the prayers of lay leaders are heartfelt and very good.

The Rev. Amy Danchik

Christ the Victor Lutheran Church

I usually go to my mentor, the Rev. Bill Hassell, who's a retired pastor, or my bishop if a more difficult situation comes up. I talk a lot to my fellow pastors here in town and from seminary when I need wisdom. But being a pastor can be very isolating at times. Sometimes I wish I were able to have a local pastor like my congregation has; one that I could pop in on in their office and have them pray over me. For whatever reason, people may feel intimated to pray for their pastor, but we definitely need it too.

The Rev. David King

First United Methodist Church Palacios

I usually visit with another clergy person who I have great respect for. There are only a few who I would confide in, and seek out for their counsel and advice. It's difficult for me to seek help though because I typically consider myself very self sufficient. It's easy for me to go and ask for prayer for someone else, but it can be difficult to ask for prayer for myself.

I think people sort of assume pastors just have this connection with God and they can handle their own stuff. But it's not very often I get to go be a member of a church like other people. I work Sunday mornings, leading service for others to worship ... and I've hit the burnout point several times in my life. That's why I'm vigilant about my prayer time and quiet time with God - that's my time and it's off limits. If the pastor is not healthy physically, spiritually and emotionally, what comes out of his mouth on Sunday morning will reflect that.

The Rev. Eli Sauseda

Faith Family Church

For me, I'm lucky because my two mentors are my senior lead pastors here at the church. I grew up here in town and I've known them both a long time. So, whenever I need help, I go to them, but I know that's a different situation for a lot of pastors here in town. I believe there are three relationships every pastor needs to have to remain balanced in the ministry: First, you need to have people you're pouring into; second, you need to have a mentor, or someone you can go to and be completely honest with; and third, you need to have a friend or a peer who can understand what you're going through in life.

I absolutely think people may not be aware that pastors need spiritual counsel. Not because they don't care about their pastors, but because pastors always seem to be so consumed with other people's lives.

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