Seeking help does not come naturally for most of us as members of the clergy. From the independence of the American spirit to the axiomatic resistance of the male ego there are lots of reasons we resist getting help when we struggle with addictions or other human problems. Pastors find seeking help especially difficult.
The vast majority of clergy are male. Generally speaking men enjoy the fixing role instead of the getting help role. As men we want to tinker with it, think it is better when it is not, shift the blame and use our wits to avoid the help which could make our lives better. We do this because we deceive ourselves in to thinking we are protecting our selves and others but we are actually destroying our selves and others.
We could characterize some resistance as human pride. Pride says its piece many ways but as it speaks it consistently resists seeking help from others. It may say, “I know better.” “I am okay on my own.” “I don’t need what weaker people need.” “I don’t care what everyone says, I know I am right.” “I am a big boy.” “I can deal with this.” “God and I can handle anything.” “I’m not as bad as you think.” “No one will ever convince me I am wrong.”
Additionally, clergypersons are in the business of giving help. They trained to be helpers, speak on God’s behalf to benefit others, are expected to be strong and helpful, and with even mediocre skills can be exceedingly busy giving themselves away helping others. It is what they are about. It is the oxygen they breathe. Some avoid help by reasoning, “How can I be so helpful to others if I need help so badly.”
The role reversal which is required to seek help feels unnatural, is experienced as failure and is resisted because it seems to reflect negatively on them as persons and ministers of the Gospel. It is not supposed to happen to them. Some clergy find they are more embarrassed to be required to seek help than to be found out having a particular addiction.
We resist seeking help because we fear the unknown too. We don’t know what professionals might find out wallowing around in our heads and hearts. It is threatening to our fragile selves to have to submit to others. We are afraid we will loose our status in the congregation if they find out we are so weak. We fear we will not be loved if people find out just how flawed we are. We are certain they will not want to listen to the words of someone who is so fallible and broken. “They won’t love me.” “She won’t care anymore.” “She will throw me away.” And even, “When they see I am vulnerable I will not be able to lead them.” Are fears which have been verbalized and may be familiar to you.
Clergymen with conflicted spousal relationships are especially defended against help. Seeking help is threatening because it widens the circle of knowledge beyond the marriage and may reflect negatively on them. To get help these clergy must be willing to give up control, trust the Lord to work fairly and risk their fear to save their marriages. If our spouse has said to you more than once, “we need help.” it is foolhardy to assume you do not.
It may seem counter intuitive to go to Finding Help to see if you need help but why not push past all the resistance from whatever source it appears and investigate carefully. If you contact Dale W. he will gladly interact with you to help you asses what level of help, if any, you may really need. If you are a spouse of a ministry professional wonder if you need help as a person or wonder if your coupleship really is in trouble, go to Finding Help, contact Dale W. and ask for his confidential input regarding these matters.
Whatever your resistance to help it is unlikely the resistance will produce what you long for most. The freedom, intimacy in relationships and personal growth you will likely experience awaits. Resist the resistance. There is safety in a multitude of counselors. There is danger in resistance. You could loose everything because you refuse help which is available. It is a mouse click away.