Take Charge of Your Mental Health
Reasons to consider seeking a counselor or coach
In recent years, health insurance companies have incentivized wellness checks. They know the dollar value of early detection and intervention in physical health. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The same is true for our mental and emotional health. As leaders, we must prioritize preventative care.
Jesus said the greatest commandment is this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). The emphasis of this passage is not how we love God with each of those parts, but that we love God with every part of us. Jesus is asking us to love Him with our whole self. When any one of these parts becomes wounded or hindered, it limits the whole. Specifically, it limits our ability to love God and others.
If we are to live out the greatest commandment as God intended, healing and growth must be priorities. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33). These troubles can inflict mental and emotional wounds — some big, some small. We can’t live by the adage, “Time heals all wounds.” In many cases, we need time and the intentional care God uses for our healing.
There are three basic types of mental and emotional care: psychotherapy, counseling and coaching. Though overlap can exist between psychotherapy and counseling, psychotherapy focuses on healing from and coping with mental disorders. Counseling may also include healing, and can overlap with coaching in its emphasis on growth in personal development areas.
The focus on healing or growth may change, depending on your life circumstances. In times of loss, adjustment or high stress, determining what help you need can be challenging. A counselor can be a good place to start. There may be seasons of working with just a coach, or seasons of working with just a counselor, or both. Regardless of your current season, here are some reasons to consider seeking a counselor or coach:
If we are to live out the greatest commandment as God intended, healing and growth must be priorities.
You need a place to be human. There is a common misconception that ministers shouldn’t struggle or should always have the answers. Counseling and coaching give us an opportunity to benefit from another part of the body of Christ. As Paul told the Corinthians, “The head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you’” (1 Corinthians 12:21). Every part is interdependent on the others.
You need a safe, confidential and holistic perspective. Encouraging and neutral input from someone who isn’t a friend, family member, staff member or boss can help you navigate emotionally charged situations. Counselors and coaches are trained to see you holistically, while most other relationships are limited to one or a handful of dimensions. Jesus demonstrated holistic care in the way He spoke to Nicodemus (John 3:1-21), the woman at the well (John 4:1-26), the paralytic (Mark 2:1-12), and His disciples. He addressed the needs of the whole person, not just one part.
You need to locate help before a crisis hits. You want to know where you will go and whom you will see for help before you need it. Being a leader shouldn’t mean walking alone. In fact, responsible leaders seek wise counsel. Our decisions impact not only us but those we serve. Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”
You need to grow. Not one of us is perfect. We all have areas in which we can improve and grow. Intentionally focusing on growth and working toward wellness can prevent some of life’s common problems from becoming serious problems. Proverbs 1:5 says, “Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance.”
You lead by example. Allowing someone to help you can give others courage to get help too. Your actions will communicate that we don’t have to face life’s struggles alone. To fulfill all the great things God has planned for us, we need other people in our lives who can minister Christ’s love and support. Galatians 6:2 instructs us to “bear one another’s burdens.”
I encourage you to take a step toward preventative mental and emotional care. The cost of doing nothing is too great. You, and those you serve, are worth the investment. Join the many leaders who are taking a proactive approach to their mental and emotional health.
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2019 edition of Influence magazine.