Posted in Ministry

Ministers And Their Need For Counseling

There are dangers for ministers. Some of these dangers can end the opportunity to serve in Christian vocational ministry. Some of these dangers can be avoided with sound Christian counseling. Dr. Ken Corr has served at Brentwood Baptist for five years as Congregational Care Minister. Both in his previous role as a senior pastor and in his role now as a counselor, Ken has seen the good and the bad of the minister’s work and private life. It’s that experience that leads him to the following benefits of counseling for clergy. I’m thankful for his guest post and his wisdom on this topic.


Guest post by Dr. Ken Corr

A recent Duke Divinity School study on clergy health discovered that the clergy they studied had a higher rate of obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety, arthritis, and high blood pressure than the general population and were in need of greater self-care including talk therapy.  This may be a surprise to many, but it will not be a surprise to the clergy.  A 2009 study of clergy by Oakland City University found that 85% of seminary students will leave the ministry within 5 years of graduating from seminary and 90% of pastors will not stay in the ministry until retirement. The demands of ministry and the pressures on the clergy are profound.

These studies point to the need and benefit of counseling for clergy.  There are some signs that talk therapy might be needed.  These signs include: moodiness; anger at family, church members, and God; a loss of vision or interest in the work; a lack of focus; a growing sense of fatigue; a cynical attitude towards the work of the church.

Too often, there is a hesitation among clergy to seek counseling.  Some may think that these are issues that they should be able to handle themselves.  However, when waiting too long to seek help, the problems may have led to burnout and the recovery is much more difficult.

One way for clergy and church members to think about counseling is that it is an enhancement to ministry.

Beside the positive mental health benefits, it will also help with developing clear boundaries for work and family, exploring feelings in a safe environment, having another perspective on work and relationships, and positive interventions to deal with chronic issues.

My strong recommendation for all clergy is to find a good therapist with whom they can have a trusted relationship and allow the therapy to help manage the many demands of ministry.


About Ken Corr

Originally from Auburn, Alabama, Ken graduated from Auburn University with a Bachelor of Science degree in education, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree and a Doctorate of Ministry degrees, and The University of Memphis with a Master of Science degree in community agency counseling. Before joining our staff in 2008, Ken was the pastor of First Baptist Church in Memphis for 12 years and served at the Church Health Center as the Congregational Relations Specialist. Currently, he’s a published author and member of the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling.

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Ten Must Read Books For Effective Ministering


These ten titles represent books I’ve engaged since first beginning ministry at age twenty. Some helped with my own soul care, and some helped with my care of others. A few helped me grasp leadership in the church, while others gave me life perspective  on situations I hadn’t yet experienced.

If I were charged to create this same list next month, it might look different.  It’s very difficult to choose just ten, but this is the list as of now. These books are not necessarily my personal top-ten favorites, but ones I believe are valuable in creating a solid foundation for a philosophy of ministry.

  1. Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence by Goleman
  2. Deep & Wide: Creating Churches Unchurched People Love to Attend by Stanley
  3. Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Foster
  4. Everybody’s Normal Till You Get To Know Them by Ortberg
  5. Crazy Busy by Deyoung
  6. The Beautiful Fight: Surrendering to the Transforming Presence of God Every Day of Your Life by Thomas
  7. The Contrarians Guide to Leadership by Sample
  8. Running On Empty: Contemplative Spirituality for Overachievers by Anderson
  9. Boundaries Face to Face: How to Have That Difficult Conversation You’ve Been Avoiding by Cloud & Townsend
  10. The School of Dying Graces by Felix

Whether you’re a rookie or a veteran, I’m confident these ten books will have a positive influence on your life and ministry.

p.s. I’d love to hear your must read books for building a strong ministry foundation via Facebook or Twitter.

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When Success = Lost Focus

Out of the blue, Mary had agreed to go on a date with me.  Not just any Mary, but Mary Hallums, who was arguably the “hottest girl” in the 10th grade (language I used in high school).

Internally, I was still waiting to appear on an MTV episode of “Punked,” but decided externally to act like I was a worthy recipient of Mary’s attention.

It was just a few years (or more) before things started going viral online, but I still somehow created a viral-like buzz at Sahuaro High School.

Short of printing t-shirts to pass out, I let everyone know about our scheduled date. But three days before the date, my cockiness caught up to me.

In a packed library, with an open staircase, I made my way down the stairs and noticed a serendipitous moment approaching. My ex-girlfriend (my choice, of course) and my soon-to-be date, Mary, stood together at the card catalog (those sub-35 years of age—just Google it) at the base of the stairs.

While preparing to unveil my cocky smirk to declare my date-dominance, I cleared my throat to gain their attention, but then it happened. My focus on the girls caused me to miss a stair. Actually, I missed one stair, and rolled down the other fifteen.

When success happens in churches, misguided focus is a real threat. And like me, a church can stumble.

It looks like this:

• A church has God’s spirit on it and people begin getting saved in records numbers. All the staff become focal points of how’d-you-do-it questions from others and they lose sight of God and their kingdom goals.

• A pastor uses his God-given gift of preaching effectively and gains national attention—book deals, interviews, and subsequently, sub-par sermons not infused with the Spirit.

• Your church figures out how to care for the community effectively. People notice and you create a conference to tell people how to do it. But the conference uses all your resources and you no longer pass the church’s resources to the community.

There would‘ve been nothing wrong with a date with Mary. But a date with the “hottest girl” shouldn’t have taken my attention from the important thing in that moment—in my case, the next stair.

There’s nothing wrong with passing along best practices, hosting conferences, great preaching, or even God-given success. But don’t allow your ministry successes to take away from what God has called you to focus on.

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