How healthy are our American pastors? According to a recent Barna study, the statistics are quite alarming. Only one in three American pastors scored excellent or good in all six physical and emotional health categories. Forty-one percent had an excellent or good score in at least three of the six categories. One quarter of pastors scored excellent or good in less than half of the six categories. The number of pastors who are giving real and serious consideration to quitting ministry is increasing – 29% of pastors in January 2021 increased to 38% in October 2021.
Continuing the series of renewed church shifts in Barna’s The State of Your Church, the next identified shift is “A renewed Church needs leaders who are self-aware about the condition of their hearts before the Lord.”
According to Betterup.com, “Self-awareness is the ability to focus on yourself and how your actions, thoughts, or emotions do or don’t align with your internal standards. If you’re highly self-aware, you can objectively evaluate yourself, manage your emotions, align your behavior with your values, and understand correctly how others perceive you.”
Most leaders believe they are self-aware, but according to a study conducted by Tasha Eurich, only 10-15% of the people they studied actually fit the criteria of being self-aware. Her research revealed three important facts:
- There are two types of self-awareness: internal and external. Eurich distinguishes these between how we see ourselves and how others see us. One can be high on one awareness without being high on the other. A good balance on both is important to have a healthy self-awareness.
- Experience and power hinder self-awareness. Experience can lead to a false sense of confidence about performance and self-knowledge. Power can lead to overvalued skills.
- Introspection doesn’t always improve self-awareness. The problem isn’t that introspection is a bad thing. The issue is that we don’t have the access to the unconscious thoughts, feeling, and motives to accurately articulate the situation. Therefore, a person invents what is true about the situation. This speaks to the latest work of Brene Brown featured in her book, Atlas of the Heart, that identified 87 different emotions.
According to Betterup, the benefits of self-awareness:
- It gives us the power to influence outcomes
- It helps us to become better decision-makers It gives us more self-confidence — so, as a result, we communicate with clarity and intention
- It allows us to understand things from multiple perspectives
- It frees us from our assumptions and biases
- It helps us build better relationships
- It gives us a greater ability to regulate our emotions
- It decreases stress
- It makes us happier
If you are a leader (particularly a pastor), what are you doing to increase your self-awareness in general and specifically about the condition of your heart before the Lord? If you are a lay person in a leadership role responsible for supporting your pastor, what are you doing to support and encourage the health and well-being of your pastor?