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==== ==== You can download a Pastoral Care Course from the learn Section here. ==== ====

One of the responsibilities of pastors serving congregations is to visit members who are hospitalized, home-bound, grieving the deaths of loved ones, or otherwise in need of pastoral care. What happens when the pastor is the one in need of care, though? While parishioners can certainly visit and pray with their pastor, this role reversal can be awkward for both. Furthermore, the pastor's role as leader of the congregation makes it inappropriate to share too much information about his or her personal struggles, just as it would be inappropriate for a counselor to do so with a client. Finally, in most denominations lay people cannot provide the sacrament of Holy Communion Who does provide pastoral care to hurting pastors? In theory, the bishop is supposed to be a pastor to the pastors; in reality, the bishop has so many other responsibilities that there is rarely enough time to do so. In addition, the bishop is often unaware of those needs; there are too many pastors for him or her to keep track of what is happening in every pastor's life at any given time. Last but not least, because bishops are also the ones who recommend pastors for future calls and discipline those guilty of misconduct, pastors are unlikely to seek care from their bishops in some situations. Would you go to your boss for personal counseling? The reality is that all too often, when pastors need a pastor, that need goes unmet. Sometimes, other clergy in the area provide pastoral care to their colleagues, but pastors are often reluctant to acknowledge their need for such care, even to themselves, much less seek out someone who could provide it. There are no easy answers, but acknowledging the problem is the first step in solving it. A growing number of counselors and consultants now specialize in helping pastors and their families cope with difficult situations. Pastors who are willing to acknowledge that they need help and reach out will find that help is available.

Wendi Gordon is both a pastor and the spouse of a pastor. She uses her professional training and her personal experiences to provide life coaching and workshops which help other pastors "rediscover the person behind the collar." To find out more, or sign up for her free monthly newsletter for clergy, go to

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==== ==== You can download a Pastoral Care Course from the learn Section here. ==== ====

Pastoral Care