Why Worker Wellness? A word to lay leaders

Editor’s Note: This new series from LCMS Church Worker Wellness is hosted here on The Lutheran Witness site. Visit the “Ministry Features” page for regular Worker Wellness content.

“We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Our burdens in this life can feel heavy at times. As Christians, we are not surprised by this. Our Lord Himself warned His disciples to expect as much: “In the world you will have tribulation.” And yet, He encouraged them: “In Me you may have peace” (John 16:32–33).

Christ gives us peace amid earthly tribulation. And one of the ways He does so is through our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” wrote St. Paul to the Early Church in Galatia about their life together (Gal. 6:2).

You can see the burdens in your own life: in your work, in your family, in your own heart and mind. Know that the burdens can likewise be heavy for your church workers. Just like you, they face tribulation — emotional, mental, financial, physical, even spiritual. Satan, the enemy of the church, “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour,” and he targets pastors and church workers who serve the proclamation of the Gospel (1 Peter 5:8). Their job can be a difficult one — stress, secondary trauma and compassion fatigue can burden them — and they may find it uncomfortable to ask their congregations or teams for the help or support they need.  

A 2017 survey of Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) church workers showed that 24% have been told by a professional that they suffer from anxiety or depression, 55% have experienced stress from financial concerns and a majority have a Body Mass Index (BMI) considered overweight or obese. All of these factors affect our ability as a church body both to recruit and to retain workers in these crucial positions.

As a leader in a church, school or other LCMS organization, you are in an ideal position to notice when your church workers may be suffering or taking on these burdens alone. Simple actions can be a great help to them:

  • Ask them how they are doing and seek to discern their needs. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).
  • Celebrate their accomplishments. “Love one another with brotherly affection” (Rom. 12:10).
  • Tell them you are praying for them. “They are keeping watch over your souls. … Let them do this with joy and not with groaning” (Heb. 13:17).
  • Encourage them to use wellness resources from the Synod and your district. “Encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” (1 Thess. 5:11).

When you support your church workers, you bless the whole Body of Christ: “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Cor. 12:26). Healthy church workers carry out their vocations with more energy and joy. You have an opportunity as leaders in the church to take care of those who serve the church as your brothers and sisters in Christ. Remember, as you do so, Christ’s promise: “As you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (Matt. 25:40).

In the coming months, you will hear more about the work of LCMS Church Worker Wellness, including new resources and more. Stay tuned to Reporter, The Lutheran Witness and the LCMS Church Worker Wellness site for updates.

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