Do You Need a Spiritual Guide?
There are times in life when we need outside help to navigate a situation, complicated emotions, or a particular struggle. It can be difficult to know what kind of help to search for. This is especially confusing for ministry leaders and families. What would a church member think if they knew you struggled with fill-in-the-blank?
Plus, if you do decide to seek help, there comes the question of what kind of help. Some churches have strong opinions on psychiatry and psychology. Is it acceptable for you to look into medications and talk therapy? Debates circle around the “all sufficiency of scripture.” Is the Bible enough to handle your particular challenges?
When thinking about whether you need spiritual guidance or not, the below categories of care can be a helpful resource. Take a look and see what direction feels right for your particular needs:
Some people may hesitate to see a mental health professional due to their beliefs involving psychology. If you have a couple of challenges you need support facing, a biblical counselor may be a good option. While they are not trained to deal with heavy issues relating to trauma, abuse, and more challenging psychological issues, a Biblical counselor can point you to scriptural truth. They can walk you through their program and help you gain insight into your particular issue. If you feel like this could be a good fit, the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors has a directory of Biblical counselors. Check out their website to see if they’re methodology is a good fit for you.
Pastors are described as shepherds for good reason. As a leader of a church congregation or other ministry, there is a “tending to the flock” that happens. Pastors are not exempt from needing care from other pastors. Receiving comfort and encouragement from another ministry leader you trust can be a valuable experience. Asking for help is intimidating, but taking that step could be the next right thing for you to try. Make sure to check with your family members first before confiding in another ministry leader. It is important that you and your family members trust the person. Pastoral care is a great option for when you have an idea of what direction to head in but need some extra support.
Life coaches are great for a more direct approach. They work with you to reach particular goals you may have within your career, time management, relationships, etc. According to Therapy Tribe, some techniques life coaches use include: self-assessments and personality questionnaires, homework assignments, support and guidance, positive affirmations, and meditation practices. Life coaches are not licensed by the state so make note of completed certifications and training.
Psychiatrists are helpful when you are dealing with anxiety, depression, or fluctuating moods that are impairing you from accomplishing daily tasks and engaging socially. A good psychiatrist will take time to sit and listen to you. They’ll work with you to find a medication and treatment plan that you feel comfortable with. Seeing a psychiatrist is usually accompanied with seeing a counselor. Medication accompanied by talk therapy is a great combination to help you reach your mental health goals. Make sure your psychiatrist and counselor are working together should you decide to try out medication.
It is also important to think through your value set when it comes to using medication. Some church environments are uncomfortable with the use of medication. Feeling secure in your decision beforehand will help if you experience any push back.
Psychotherapy (Licensed mental health professionals – Counselors, Social Workers, etc.):
When life catches up to you and your old coping mechanisms aren’t working so well anymore, a counselor can be a great asset to helping you let go of what’s not working and practice some new techniques that will. They are also skilled in working with anxiety, depression, grief, trauma, emotion coaching, couples and family counseling, etc. These mental health professionals have dedicated their time to be able to address a wide range of issues that can come up throughout life. If you are looking for a counselor, a couple of good resources are the Christian Counseling Directory and Psychology Today. If you are needing counseling on a sliding scale, Open Path is a helpful site that offers lower rates.
When to Find a Spiritual Guide:
A spiritual guide is a resource when you feel oppressed in mind, body, and soul. This can feel like obsessive thinking, fear, lack of motivation, feelings of emptiness, or consistent guilt. The difference between a spiritual guide from a biblical counselor or psychotherapist is that they are able to address both your spiritual and psychological needs. They need to be trained in working with addiction, anxiety, depression, trauma, grief, etc., while also having an intimate knowledge of the spiritual. This person can provide insight into your symptoms and walk you through what many call a dark night of the soul. It is the opportunity to lean into what is hindering you and come out the other side set free.
It is crucial for a spiritual guide to have experienced their own dark nights of the soul. They will be serving as your mediator to help you encounter God and experience healing. Your guide needs to know what that feels like to be able to help you with your inner journey. This type of work serves the purpose of removing any hindrances that are keeping you from living in freedom and accomplishing the work God has set out for you to do.
If you feel like this is the guidance you are needing, Desert Road Ministries offers spiritual guides as part of the Ministry Burnout Prevention and Recovery Program. God has brought us through many dark nights of the soul and we believe it is a journey worth taking!
Reach out to us today and set up a free consultation!