It’s been a few years since my Seminary studies- 31 to be exact. So, my memory is sketchy as I try to recall exactly what we were taught in Pastoral Care classes and Field Ed. But, not much was taught about people skills. I certainly didn’t learn much, if anything, on how to deal with criticism or church conflict. I wasn’t told anything about the dropout rate in the ministry or provided with instruction as to its causes and potential prevention. And, I certainly wasn’t encouraged to take a close look at any of my own personal baggage that might be a hindrance to dealing effectively with challenging ministry situations. I don’t know why we were not told such things. I don’t think there was a conspiracy to not do so. It just wasn’t done. And, when we heard stories of church conflicts, or termination, burnout, and moral failure of pastors, it was easy to think; “Well, that would never happen to me!”
In spite of our high expectations, research tells us that 1500 pastors a month are leaving the ministry. And, just as alarming, 80% of pastors drop out in the first five years of ministry. Obviously, something more has to be done. Yet, you hear of precious little being done.
CPR is one way to effectively address the needs of pastors before they become a statistic. And, given the naivete that remains in seminary training, why not do something preventative for the shepherds before they are turned loose full time among the sheep? Nothing can be done ahead of time to completely eliminate pain in ministry. That’s just the way it is- just like all of life. And, much can be learned from pain. Yet, providing an experience like CPR for seminary students- even college students- has the potential of helping them avoid some of the self-inflicted pain that comes in ministry when we bring trouble on ourselves by wrongly responding to our sheep out of our own baggage from the past.
I’ve been on the phone this week with Rick Cottrill, Celebrate Recovery State Rep in Louisiana who has an opportunity to get CPR started on the campus of New Orleans Baptist Seminary. The potential for providing help for the students there is tremendous. Please join us in praying for this to take place. And, pray that it will be just the first of many other campuses to follow in the future. It can be a much-needed aspect of additional preparation of the shepherds before sending them out to care for all those (sometimes challenging) sheep!