Ministry can be a tough job, and pastors are some of the most selfless, dedicated individuals to serve in these roles. However, given the weighty nature of their responsibilities, pastors can often feel overwhelmed, uncertain or in need of counsel from their peers. Still, many find it difficult to ask for help—whether it’s due to pride, fear, or a perception that reaching out would be inappropriate.

It’s crucial for pastors to get past this barrier in order to grow as leaders and best support their congregations. Below, we explore the reasons behind the tendency to shy away from asking for help, and we offer tips on overcoming this challenge.

The Fear of Looking Weak or Insecure

Even though pastors teach vulnerability and humility through sermons, it can be a different matter when they practice what they preach. One of the most common reasons pastors avoid seeking help is a fear of looking weak or insecure, and appearing to have less-than-perfect spiritual knowledge or ability.

In reality, just the opposite is true when a pastor asks for help. By acknowledging their individual limitations, they set an example that encourages transparency and authenticity within the congregation. By inviting others into their journey, they can foster trust and growth within their followers, while also receiving valuable wisdom that benefits their ministry as a whole.

Pride and Super-Human Expectations

Religious leaders often end up grappling with a double-edged sword of pride. On one hand, pastors are called to act courageously and maintain confidence in their faith, leading them to display self-assurance even when facing challenges. On the other hand, the immense responsibility and perceived high expectations can feed a sense of duty or pride that may make it hard for pastors to admit they might need advice or instruction.

In order to move beyond this mindset, pastors should recognize that everyone has areas where they need improvement. It's an inherent part of the human condition. Admitting they need help can open the door to transformation, both personally and in their ministry.

The Myth of Separateness

Another misconception that can hinder pastors from seeking assistance is the notion that they must maintain a personal distance from their flock, thus making it inappropriate to look to them for support. In reality, getting help doesn’t always have to come from outside the congregation. In fact, involvement with members is an integral part of ministry, and this may well include sharing more intimate experiences in life and ministry.

Alongside their duties, pastors can and should take part in support groups and informal networks specifically designed for religious leaders, where they can cultivate friendships without worry of inappropriate boundaries. Additionally, they can consult professional counsel, who have no vested interest in the church, when truly confidential matters arise.

Breaking Down Barriers

Pastors provide a valuable service to their communities, offering guidance, hope and strength. They do not have to face the challenges of ministry alone. Here are some practical steps to help pastors get better at seeking assistance:

  1. Recognize that every Christian struggles with issues, so seeking help is not a sign of weakness or insecurity.
  2. Share your burdens with the body of Christ and avail yourself of the loving community of support found in your congregation.
  3. Remember that there is a profound truth in the old adage, “A problem shared is a problem halved." Opening up about struggles can provide relief and lead to new insights, solutions, and friendship.
  4. Consider participating in peer supervision or a group for professional pastoral caregivers. These offer invaluable support, networking opportunities and a place to learn from the experiences of others.
  5. Establish a support network of fellow clergy and trusted lay leaders who can give input and guidance.
  6. Leverage resources like professional counselors, mentors or coaching specialists to help navigate big decisions or personal struggles.
  7. Recognize that asking for help can ultimately deepen your faith, improve your relationship with God, and enable you to be the best leader you can be for your ministry.

Whether it’s in a moment of doubt, when facing a critical decision, or merely when seeking additional perspective, don't deny yourself the opportunity to grow by seeking assistance. In so doing, you not only grow as a person, but you also model authenticity that may enrich the spiritual lives of your congregation.