We need to talk more about mental health in the Church, and the COVID-19 pandemic is forcing us to have the conversation. However, many pastors are uncomfortable talking about the subject of mental health because they don’t feel equipped and may be struggling themselves. Dr. Jon Chasteen sits down with licensed therapist Dr. Cassie Reid to talk about how the COVID-19 pandemic is leading to more mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, and how pastors can be prepared to lead their churches and themselves to freedom.
Dr. Cassie Reid is the director of the Master of Marriage & Family Therapy program at The King’s University and the founder of Cassie Reid Counseling, where she combines her years of experience as a licensed therapist with the leading of the Holy Spirit to help clients with the problems they face.
Dr. Jon Chasteen: Well, thanks so much for joining us today. I am so excited about our guest today. Dr. Cassie Reid is an amazing woman of God, but she’s also in ministry, she’s in counseling, has her own practice. She’s an academician, she’s just a multi-talented person. So, Dr. Reid is the director of the marriage and family therapy program here at The King’s University, and she’s the founder of Cassie Reid Counseling here in the DFW area, and she’s written books. She wrote a book recently called Open the Gift of Holiday Sanity.
Dr. Cassie Reid: Yes.
Jon: which we could all use a little bit of that, a little bit of sanity. I did look up some of the areas that she’s very passionate about and interested in: church wounds, which is something we were all familiar with as pastors, family dynamics, systemic change, and self-harm. And so, I think she’s going to be a really good resource for us pastors.
Today, we’re going to be talking about a very relative topic about mental illness, and with the COVID-19, this was a big topic before COVID-19, and I think for us pastors, this is something that we need to be not just familiar with now, but to know that the ramifications to come in the next 12 to 18 months, we’re going to begin to see this even more so.
And I want to open this up, but first I want to just come across some stats that I saw. Lifeway Research published some of these stats. 23% of pastors admit to struggling with mental health. 23, a quarter of pastors.
Jon: 49% say they never talk about mental health from the platform. 27% of churches have a plan to assist families suffering from mental illness.
Cassie: Wow, 27.
Jon: Or mental health. Yeah. So, only 27% of churches have any sort of plan whatsoever. And so, , I thought it was a relative topic for us to talk about today. We’re really excited you’re here.
Cassie: Oh, I’m honored to be here.
Cassie: So, excited. I’m glad we’re talking about it. We’re in the not 27%. I’m thankful-
Cassie: For that.
Jon: So, we’re helping the stats.
Cassie: We are.
Jon: We’re reversing the stats a little bit. So, we’ll start with this. I just want to ask you a bunch of questions and I’m just going to be quiet. Why are you so passionate about this subject? Because I know you are. So, tell me, what are some of the reasons that you’re so passionate about it?
Cassie: You know, I think my main thing is it is wounding. Not properly addressing and understanding mental health in the church, specifically, causes wounds. Is that people are unable to deal with what’s going on, anxiety, depression, even more severe mental health, schizophrenia, things… bipolar disorder, things that are out there. And I think we can’t segregate the clinical and the spiritual. I think the two things together are what make an excellent counselor, what make an excellent pastor, what makes a two-four punch. So, one without the other causes harm, in my opinion.
Jon: It is funny how we separate those two, isn’t it?
Jon: It’s either totally spiritual, we’re just going to cast demons out of you. And it’s all on the spiritual side, which I don’t discount. There are those elements.
Cassie: Me, either.
Jon: Or we swing the pendulum all the way to the other side, we remove the spiritual element altogether, and it’s all psychological.
Jon: And so, , there is a blend there. How do you blend those things? How do you complement both sides?
Cassie: You know, one of the things I’m so excited that I get to do early in my practice at TKU is to teach people to trust the holy spirit. It’s really honing that gift inside of them to say, “Okay, let me just sense the situation,” because counseling is really the only field where you’re the commodity. And same thing, kind of, with ministry, you know? What you’re sharing… you’re the person, you’re the one, you’re the one that gets to decide.
So, I think it’s teaching people how to identify clinical things. I think that’s missing sometimes, is how do you identify clinical issues? But also, how do you help people who are really struggling with inner healing? So, much of it is contextual, how you were grown up, and what your attachment was like, what was your family like? What were those dynamics and how did that move into today? So, it’s teaching people to discern.
Jon: So, maybe we should start with something super basic, because I think there’s even some connotations to this word we keep throwing around. What is mental health? Let’s just start with the basics. Let’s let people understand from your perspective and your definition. Give a clear perspective of what all we’re talking about. We’re just talking about crazies here, Dr. Reid? The schizophrenics and the crazy people? I think that’s part of the problem-
Cassie: It is.
Jon: is when people hear this word, their mind automatically goes to this, “Well, I don’t have a mental health issue,” because it’s the connotation.
Jon: They have a bad perspective of it. So, give us a healthy perspective of what we’re talking about.
Cassie: Do you know, it’s interesting because it seems raw, maybe what I’ll say, which I know is okay, but why do we care so much about our body and what we eat, but we totally neglect our mind? We neglect any part of our emotions. That’s what I see it as, is just like you’d go to the gym, you eat kale, you drink smoothies, you do things that are good for you in the physical. Mental health is doing things that are good for you in the mental.
Are your emotions healthy? Where do negative emotions come from? How do you identify that? So, mental health can definitely encompass depression, anxiety, which I think everyone suffers with a little bit, and they all have a tinge of it at some point. This whole COVID-19 thing that we’ve walked through… I think anxiety is at a high just because people are like, “What’s going to happen?” But I think it really is your overall awareness of yourself, overall awareness of maybe family patterns, family history, knowing when do you get anxious? When do you get depressed? What goes on for you? It’s just being in tune with that the same that you’d be in tune with your body.
Jon: Yeah, no, that’s really, really good. And for pastors to be able to, one, just talk about it and maybe I’m speculating here, but maybe pastors don’t talk about it because they feel ignorant into what to say or they don’t feel like they have a psychological understanding or they don’t… you know, “If I open that can of worms, I don’t know exactly where it’s going to go.”
Cassie: Yeah, yeah.
Jon: So, what are some ways that the pastors can talk about this from stage in a healthy format? We talk about that it needs to be talked about, you need to talk about it in your sermons, you talk about from your platform. Are there some healthy ways or some ways that might help a pastor feel less anxious about sharing these things?
Cassie: Yeah. I think one is normalizing it, making it to where it’s not a stigma-
Jon: That’s good, yeah. Be vulnerable.
Cassie: That, “Hey, I know a lot of you…” Yeah. The other is sharing your own story, because I can’t imagine that there’s not a pastor in America that hasn’t had a tinge of anxiety at some point.
Cassie: When you’re working in the church, that’s a lot.
Cassie: I think sharing that there’s place for that in the congregation. You may not have to be one of the 20% that have a whole big plan worked out, but what can we do? I’ll talk to you. We have people that can talk to you. Come meet with us, talk with us, let’s get community resources. There are things that you can reach out and find no matter how small or how large your church or your town, anything that can provide for people. And I think just talking about that makes people feel seen, heard, and understood.
Jon: Well, if you’ll just even talk about it a little bit and just bring it up, that will be the first step that I think will start to generate some momentum that people will… you’ll find that there’s an interest there, and people are very interested in it. I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago, just in a message that I’d preached. And I just did it in passing. I didn’t go into this big… it was just a two- or three-minute portion of my message.
Cassie: Oh, I heard. I heard it. I was cheering.
Jon: You did?
Jon: You listened to my sermon. I am shocked.
Cassie: I was cheering.
Jon: I’m honored. But I didn’t even really do anything. I just mentioned it.
Cassie: You said “mental health.”
Cassie: That’s pretty much it.
Jon: And I couldn’t believe the amount of feedback I got. “Thank you for talking about this. Thank you.”
Jon: And I’m thinking, “Well, now I feel like… obviously, why didn’t you talk about it more?” But my first thought was, “Well, I didn’t really even talk about it. I just brought it up.”
Cassie: Yeah, yeah.
Jon: And so, , just me bringing it up caused people to appreciate it. And so, I’m like, “Wow, I need to talk about this more.” And so, pastors, you don’t have to do it from your pulpit. If this COVID-19 has taught you anything, do a live Facebook, or I’m sure Dr. Reid here would love to come on your show.
Cassie: Any time.
Jon: For $4,000 fee per minute. No, but just get creative and find ways to talk about it. One of the best ways to overcome your fears in talking about it is to say, “I’m no expert in this, but I know it needs to be talked about, so let’s talk about this.”
Jon: And so, just beginning in that way. So, what are some ways that a pastor can… maybe it’s with their teams or with some of their staff or key people in the church? What I think is important for pastors to learn, and really anybody for that matter, as family members or friends, what are some things that I can begin to look for in my friends or my staff that would be indicators to me that there are elements?
Jon: Because there’s really only two people in your life that are going to have mental health issues, you and everybody else. You know? So, we’ll talk about ourselves in a minute, but what do we talk about when we talk about other people? What do we begin to look for as triggers, or, “Okay, I’m noticing something different in that person.” One, how do I recognize it? And two, how do I approach that subject? Because that’s a touchy subject.
Cassie: Oh, it is. Yeah.
Jon: You don’t walk up to your friend and say, “Hey, you got mental problems, man. Let’s talk about it. Okay?” You know, it’s not going to go well. So, how do we talk about it? How do we identify it? And then how do we talk about it?
Cassie: I think the first step to identifying it is when someone’s emotions don’t equal the situation, like the emotions are not equivalent to the situation that you’re seeing.
Jon: That’s good.
Cassie: So, if you drop something on the floor and you see rage, or if you bump into something and you’re sobbing, it’s like, “Whew.” That’s an indicator that something’s off, something’s wrong.
Jon: That’s good.
Cassie: So, I always watch that, the level of emotion equivalent to the actual event. I think it’s noticing pattern changes. When you see someone who’s normally outgoing, bubbly, totally be withdrawn, or someone who’s normally withdrawn, you might see them be more outgoing or more vocal. It’s always just noticing like, “Hey, you’re not really yourself.” I think that’s one way to notice. I think the other thing is sometimes just calling it out. “Hey, I’ve noticed you haven’t been yourself. Hey, you usually get your work in completely on time, but you’ve been late.”
Or, “Hey, you usually are right here ready to open the church on Sunday morning and you haven’t been here until church started. What’s going on?” And so, it’s being to just identify, “Hey, I see a pattern. I see you.”
Cassie: That is a huge thing, I think, in ministry. And I think that’s what avoids spiritual abuse, really.
Cassie: “I see you. I know you, I see what’s going on.”
Cassie: Yeah. Like, “I’ve watched your patterns,” even if it’s someone that you might not work with as closely. I think another thing to notice is just how they appear, and I know that sounds really horrible to judge that, but people who normally would be put together who aren’t, or just seeing them, you can tell, just even in their demeanor, their face, if it’s drawn or long, just really paying attention to them.
Jon: And when you know people, you can tell.
Jon: But I like what you’re saying. Even from a leadership perspective, if you don’t have a great relationship with them, you can still go to them. You have a working relationship with them enough to say, “Hey, you’ve been acting different.”
Jon: You know? And even if you haven’t been meeting the standards of… there’s a relational way to do it, instead of just blazing in and saying, “You’re not doing your job.” You’re just going to complicate it, make it worse.
Cassie: And starting relationally, I think, is key, because shame and guilt is such a tool of the enemy. And if it becomes about work performance, then that comes in, and I think that only exacerbates the problem and only makes it worse, rather than better. But I think if you put people first, people over the work, people over what’s gone on, I think that goes so far in ministry.
Jon: Which you see that all through scripture, when anybody’s having an anxiety or fear or worry, God always comes in whether it’s through an angel or whatever representation of the Lord, and it’s always this relational aspect of, “Fear not, I am with you.” So, it’s not the pointing the finger. It’s “Hey, I’m going to do this with you. We’re going to do this together. I’m not going anywhere. You’re not fired. I’m not divorcing you. Our friendship isn’t over. I’m with you. We’re going to do it together.”
Cassie: So, good.
Jon: And I love that. Sometimes I’m really good at finding what’s wrong with other people, but finding what’s wrong with myself is sometimes the bigger challenge. And I think we all have that blind spot as leaders. So, I think a bigger question might be, how do we identify mental health things in us?
Cassie: That’s a great question.
Jon: Yeah. This is probably the hardest one to find.
Cassie: It is.
Jon: Because it’s in yourself.
Cassie: I think that we really do know. I know when my actions or my responses are extreme, and I think it’s just stopping to identify that. But I also think this, is I love to ask people their perception of me. So, even teaching here, I tell my students all the time, “Good, bad, or ugly, I want to know,” so it’s like, “Give me feedback.”
And so, me of my students would be like, “You were really short in that response.” Just letting people speak into your life. I think even people who are close to you, being able to say, “Hey, I don’t know. How am I doing? What am I putting off?”
Jon: Ask, yeah.
Cassie: Yeah. “What am I putting off? How are you seeing me lately?” I think that’s helpful. I think also in yourself, you’ve got to be aware of even the small things. If it’s, you love to work out and then you just aren’t feeling it in the last month, it’s like, “Why? What’s different?” being able to identify the places where things shift and change. If we can do that in ourselves, then we can do that for other people.
Jon: Yeah. And so, metimes, it takes withdrawing for those things to be identified. I think that in some ways this quarantine is helping people discover things that our pace has been such that we just ignore and we roll with it.
Jon: “I’ll be fine. I’ll get over it,” and then when we’re forced through situations like the quarantine to just be alone with ourselves, we might discover more about ourselves than we thought was there.
Jon: And so, now we’re left to deal with it.
Jon: So, it’s one thing to discover it, that there is an issue, “I recognize something in myself,” and going through the process of identifying what those things may be. But then, what are some of the ways that we deal with it? How do we deal with those things? And I think for every pastor, the difficulty is, “How do I continue to help other people with their problems while I’m trying to fix my own?”
Jon: And I think that’s why a lot of pastors are tempted to just fake it till I make it because I got to be put together so I can put other people together. So, how do I put other people together while I’m broken, myself? And I think this is what is roaring inside of a lot of pastors, is that, “I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to be something to somebody else and be ripped apart within myself.”
Cassie: Yeah. I’m trying to think where I heard it, but I think, one, any leadership training… it’s so great because a good leadership training is going to teach you to lead yourself and lead others simultaneously. But I think I’ve heard it said that you should have some people that are leading you. You lead up, and then you lead down, both directions.
Jon: Yup. Absolutely.
Cassie: And I think that’s where you have to carve out time and you have to say, “Okay, this is my time that I’m going to work for me. I’m going to work on me. This is my time where I’m going to pour into people.”
Jon: That’s good, yeah.
Cassie: And you’ve really got to silo that and say, “Okay…” In this quarantine, if that’s taught you anything, “This is my family time. This is my work time.” Even though it feels like it can all bleed together, it’s just knowing, “This is where I’ve got to take care of me.” I think sometimes it’s knowing when you’ve got to pause. Is it time for a sabbatical?
Jon: That’s what I was about to say.
Cassie: I know we’ve had this, but is it time for you to take a sabbatical, take a season of just focusing on you? I think that’s really what has happened in this. At least what I’ve seen.
Jon: You see the moral failure in a pastor, or heaven forbid, like we saw in Jared Wilson in California, the pastor that committed suicide, somebody who was passionate about mental health and was an advocate for it, and commit suicide himself. At what point do you compartmentalize it and say, “Today, I’m working on myself, and tomorrow I’m working on other people?” versus, “I can’t work on nothing but me. I’ve got to shut this thing down.”
At what point within ourselves does it get that drastic? Are we emitting certain behaviors? Are we being abusive? What are some triggers that we might need to say to ourselves, “Okay, I need to go to my elders. I need to go to the board of my church and say, ‘I need a break?'”
Cassie: I think one thing I want to say about that first is shame is so powerful. And I just want to say, there’s nothing that you could walk through that would bring so much shame, that… the enemy wants you to quit. Steal, kill, destroy. That’s it. That’s all he wants you to do. So, I think that’s what happens is the shame of like, “Oh my gosh, I have these thoughts going through my mind. I shouldn’t be leading.” No, that’s exactly what the enemy would want-
Jon: You’re human, yeah.
Cassie: is for you to hang it up. Yeah. And so, I think one is identifying that and vocalizing it. So, is saying, “Who do you have?” You need a person. Who do you have that you’re going to say, “Today, I heard that I should quit.”
Cassie: That’s it. If you just send that in one message to somebody, you need somebody that can receive those messages for you and say to you, “Okay, let’s pray. I’m calling you up,” or, “Oh, where’s that coming from?” And be able to dialogue on that. I think that’s noticing. I think even saying to your eldership or saying to people, if you find that you can’t kick that with some of the things that have tried before, you’ve taken a vacation, you’ve talked to someone, you’ve… I think every pastor needs a counselor.
Cassie: Maybe that’s because I am one, but I’m like, “Where are you going to work it out?” Part of my passion that made me get into spiritual abuse is that so many pastors don’t have anywhere to work it out, and you’re not going to go to someone in your congregation.
Cassie: You can’t.
Jon: Or a staff member.
Cassie: Yes. You can’t.
Jon: Or anybody.
Cassie: Yeah, so that’s my passion is, how do I provide? That’s a lot of my practice does, and what I do specifically, is provide that for pastors.
Jon: That’s great.
Cassie: You need a place that you can come and vent and it’s ethical. When you go to a counselor, one of the things that’s really great is it’s ethical. They’re bound by a licensure, meaning that you can tell them-
Jon: What’s said in the office, stays in the office.
Cassie: Yes. And if it doesn’t, you take their license.
Cassie: I mean, I’m, I’m not kidding. I tell my students, “You choose to violate that-“
Jon: You’re done.
Cassie: “You’re going to lose your livelihood.” And I always say, “Your stuff is not worth my livelihood. I don’t care how juicy it is, I don’t want to tell it. I’m not going to tell it.”
Jon: But that’s important for pastors to hear, that they need a safe place to go-
Cassie: They do.
Jon: and share their… not that every pastor has a deep, dark secret, but something that they’re battling with internally, you know? The shame. Shame’s huge.
Cassie: It’s huge.
Jon: It’s huge, and it’s debilitating, and it’s paralyzing. And I think this time, things have become amplified. I talked about that a couple of weeks ago on another talk I was doing that it’s in times like this that whatever’s inside of you is going to come out, on this quarantine and COVID and stress. And pastors may be sensing the same battle within, so to speak, and the same… just a roaring inside of themself, and they don’t know where to go and they don’t know how to process through it, because it really is like playing a guitar.
Jon: You hear it, but then if you plug it into an amplifier, it’s just so much louder, and it’s the same song, same guitar, same hand playing it, but it’s so much louder. And so, , what causes that from a psychological perspective? I’m no psychologist. What’s happening inside of somebody that causes things to amplify so much so, when we shove it down and then it creeps up, what are some of the things happening inside of somebody at that time?
Cassie: Well I think right now… I had a friend say this and it was really true. She said, “I have not been able to quiet the voices in my head,” and not in the sense of schizophrenia or something.
Cassie: But it’s like we’ve got-
Jon: Our own voices.
Cassie: Yes, we’ve got stuff to do. There’s always somewhere to run, somewhere to go, someone to talk to, somewhere to be. And so, what happens is now I think in this quiet, it’s like turning it up because you don’t have anywhere to drown it out.
Jon: Everything else is silenced.
Cassie: Yeah. And so, I think we’ve got to get ourselves there more often.
Jon: That’s really good, yeah.
Cassie: That’s why Sabbath… it’s so crucial. I can’t say it enough. I make my students read books on Sabbath because self-care. When you give out, self-care is huge, because there’s always someone who needs something else. It’s insatiable.
Jon: Always. Always.
Cassie: The church is insatiable, and you love it, so you don’t want to not serve it. You don’t want to not give to it. You don’t want to not bless someone. But the fact is, there has to be balance, and if you don’t take care of yourself and you don’t really honor the Sabbath, it’s the only commandment that we choose to break.
Cassie: It’s so weird, but it’s true, especially when you’re a pastor or a counselor or someone giving out. So, I think if you find that time more often, you’re going to face those thoughts, almost head on. You’re going to see them more frequently than waiting for once a year when you take a vacation on the beach, and they creep in.
Jon: Yeah, and I think the hardest word for any pastor to learn is, “No,” because we get into ministry because we want to help people, and when people come at us, they’re always pulling from you.
Jon: If you’re a pastor listening to this, when’s the last time somebody called you to tell you how great of a job you’re doing? It’s not real often. People call you to tell you they want something. They need you to do a funeral. They need you to go to the hospital. They need you to see somebody. And so, it can be really, really hard to say no. I remember I was driving back with my family. Actually, I was driving back to my family. I’d been gone for a couple of days, and we had this whole thing planned.
It wasn’t anything major. My kids just said, “Hey, can we play basketball when you get home?” We’re just making some plans. And then I got this call as I was driving into the city, and it was somebody in our church that had somebody that was in the hospital and, you know. “Pastor, can you come?” And I was like, “I got to check something, let me call you back.” And I just remember hanging up my phone going, “What do I do?”
Cassie: It’s hard.
Jon: “I’m a pastor, they’re calling me. Somebody’s on their death bed. They need me there. But I just promised my kids that I would be there to play basketball with them.” And you compare the two. You’re like, “Well, basketball versus deathbed. Duh, Jon, it’s a no-brainer.”
Cassie: Oh, basketball.
Jon: But I also don’t want to sacrifice my kids on the altar of ministry.
Cassie: Yeah, yeah.
Jon: And so, I called them back and I said, “I’m sorry, we’re going to make sure we have a pastor there, but it’s not going to be me.”
Cassie: That’s good.
Jon: And I remember just wrestling with that inside myself, because it’s hard to say no, but there’s such a big part of that. The importance of saying no, I think, is so difficult for pastors to do, and so we end up saying yes to everything except the most important things. Sometimes, it’s us.
Cassie: Well, and I commend your choice a hundred percent. And only because of this: I think as pastors… and what I see, and I may be overstepping because this is your lane more so.
Jon: You go for it.
Cassie: But is that insecurity is something that has to be killed in pastors.
Jon: Insecurity is… pastors are super insecure, I’ll just let you know.
Cassie: They are.
Jon: They’re very insecure.
Cassie: They are. I work with them all the time, but here’s the deal though, is the thought of you not being… that shows your security, and not to just pick on you, but is that you could send someone else and still feel okay. Be like, “It didn’t have to be me. I didn’t have to be the one that went by that bedside.”
Cassie: And that’s, I think, where pastors have to check themselves, is to say, “Do I need something? Am I drawing something out of that exchange that meets a need for me, that fills my tank?”
Jon: That’s so important.
Cassie: And it’s like, “So, if I were to go to the death… that would help me,” you’d leave your kids. “But that would fill a tank in me.” And it’s… fill your tank, you know?
Jon: We just hit something really important that we need to talk about for a second, because this is something God convicted me on very strongly, where there was a certain person in my life that I didn’t feel like I was getting the validation that I felt like I deserved from them. And I was working hard for them, I was doing everything I thought I was called to do, and I was laying it all on the line for this leader that I was serving.
And I felt like they were pushing me to the side, that they weren’t acknowledging me, that they weren’t… whatever, right? And I was talking to one of my mentors, which is important. You got to have somebody that you can process through and somebody that can, no matter how big your church is, no matter how big you think you are, somebody that can look you straight in the eye and say, “You are dead wrong. You’re an idiot.”
And I was talking to him about it, and he did, he looked me right in the eye and he said, “Why do you need his validation?” And so, for me, it was like, “Oh,” knife to the chest, because there is something that I think that’s important that we talk about. There is a side of every pastor, the insecure pastor in all of us, that even when we’re called to go to the hospital or we’re in called to do a wedding or a funeral, it’s fulfilling a need that every human has.
We want to be needed and we want to be known. And so, , there’s a portion that even serving can become self-serving, that’s fulfilling something within myself. And so, , we can call it ministry, and it is, you know what I’m saying. We can say, “I’m doing ministry, I’m working hard and people are dying and going to hell. I got to get up there.” But all the while, that may be something… we’re just fulfilling insecurity we have. I think that’s really important to talk about, that if we’re all honest, a lot of times, we’re really just trying to do something so we can post about it on social media.
Cassie: Well, and you have to think-
Jon: Sorry, I just got real there.
Cassie: No, it’s good. You have to think back to when you’re called, because every… I feel like pastors are called, but if you think the enemy would not want to come and thwart your call or try to flip it, you’re crazy.
Jon: Yeah, absolutely.
Cassie: And I just said that as a counselor. You’re crazy.
Jon: You’re crazy. Diagnosis.
Cassie: I’ve diagnosed you.
Jon: You’re crazy.
Cassie: But it’s the fact that you go and you have this organic call. You have this place where the holy spirit says to you, “Hey Jon,” or, “Hey, Jim,” “Hey, Sue, you’re called to be in ministry.” Wouldn’t the enemy want to come and say that this now becomes the place where you fulfill a wound, a parent wound, a father wound, a mother wound, a teacher… somewhere in your past that comes and creeps up, which is why mental health is so important.
Cassie: You’ve got to know, “Do I have a father wound? Do I have a mother wound? Do I have a place in my past where a teacher didn’t validate me accordingly, and I’ve lived with this inner vow all the way-?”
Jon: Rejection, yeah.
Cassie: Yeah. “All the way until now?” And so, I think you have to know that, because that’s what keeps the enemy silent when it comes to your call.
Jon: Calling it out. Call him out for what it is.
Cassie: Call him out.
Jon: Pastors, there’s a really good book out there called Kill the Spider by Carlos Whittaker that speaks directly to this. It’s such a great book that talks about the wounds that we carry, that many times we’ve carried them so long, we don’t even know they’re there anymore, but we go after the by-product of the wound. He calls it a cobweb. You keep cleaning the cobweb. You know, “I’m going to stop drinking. I’m going to stop yelling at my kids. I’m going to stop.”
Jon: And he’s like, “The problem is, that’s not the problem. There’s a spider, and until you kill the spider, the cobweb will just keep reappearing.”
Cassie: Yeah. So, good.
Jon: And I love that analogy he uses. It’s a great book for you or for people that you know of that are wounded. What else? I have a list of questions, but is there anything burning in you that you want to say? I don’t want to just stymie you to what I’m saying. Is there anything that you’re passionate about, that you think is important for pastors, or not even isolating it to pastors, but just as fathers, as mothers, from a parenting perspective, how do we make sure we’re looking at things in our children? Anything else that just comes to mind in this process?
Cassie: Yeah, there’s a lot. I think one of the things that I’m thinking about is authenticity. I love to teach parents how to model authenticity. My little girl’s four, and I’ll say to her, “Oh, mommy messed up. I’m so sorry,” or, “Mommy’s mad right now.”
Jon: Yeah, I like it.
Cassie: Just letting her know, “I’m going to tell you about this emotion, but it’s what mommy does with her mad. I’m mad, because this happened, but I still love you.”
Cassie: Or, “You’re not bad. You made a bad choice.” I love to model what that looks like for me. And I think as pastors, as leaders, as counselors, as parents, especially in even COVID, if you’re coming out of it, is sometimes it’s saying, “Mom’s scared too. Mom’s sad too that we didn’t get to go to that birthday party, and that we missed that thing or that vacation, or you’re not going back to school.”
Sometimes in our own modeling of our own emotions, there’s power in that, because then people see us do it in a healthy way. So, as people in ministry, if your congregation can see you model healthy emotion, like, “I’m disappointed. I’m sad about this. This is frustrating to me.” When they can see you talk about it, you may be the first person that someone’s going to see model healthy emotion.
Jon: That’s really good. I think there’s this temptation as a leader to think that you have to be Moses to go up to the mountain and hear from God in a cloud of glory and come down with your mask over your face. Well, COVID-19. I guess that would work. You have to come down from the mountain with the answers, and thus sayeth the Lord, “Here’s what we’re going to do.”
And I don’t discount that. I think there are times where there is a revelation to the leader, but some of the times that I feel like I’ve earned the most credibility with people that have followed me is whenever, in an all-staff or whatever the case may be, I may just say, “You know what, guys? This is what I’m struggling with. On this side, here’s what we would do. But the alternative is this side. This would be the challenge to that.”
And so, to even let your followers and let even your family and your kids see this internal struggle with yourself, and then they get to see how you lead through that, and they may learn by not from what you said or the decision you made, but by watching the struggle within you, by watching your demeanor and your calmness, and then your decisiveness on the back end of it, then they learn more from that than from watching you make a decision.
Cassie: They do. And you know, another piece of that that I think, too, is when you’re thinking about… we’re not that different, even though we are. I’m not a theologian, I’m not a pastor in any way so to say, but I don’t ever want to be the source for someone.
Jon: That’s good.
Cassie: My goal is to teach them how to tap into the source themselves, so most of the people that I see… and they’ll want to talk to me about church or holy spirit, we can get into that. How do you hear for yourself? Don’t come to me and be like, “What should I do?” I’m never going to answer that as a counselor. I don’t think pastors should, either.
Jon: Which is what Jesus did. He answered questions with questions.
Cassie: I know. I don’t think pastors should, either.
Cassie: “Hey, should I get a divorce?” “I can’t tell you, what’s your gut say? What’s the Holy Spirit speaking to you?”
Jon: That’s really good.
Cassie: And I think the moment we remove ourselves from being the source, thinking we have to be the one that hears, and then we teach the people with us, either counselors or people in our congregation, wherever, “You go back, then tell what you heard.”
Jon: That’s good.
Cassie: Because He doesn’t work in confusion, so He’s not going to give mixed messages if someone’s not hearing somewhere. But it’s teaching them to go and do that for themselves. I don’t want people to be dependent on me.
Jon: Which is too much for any leader to bear, anyways.
Cassie: It is. Oh, yeah.
Jon: You see leaders that are exhausted, they’re getting sick, they’re getting diabetes or whatever their ailments are. What if it’s because you’re trying to carry too much weight? And you saw this pattern of Moses and then guess what happened? His father-in-law came along and said, “Man, you’re not going to be able to make it. You can’t lead this way. It’s going to kill you.” And so, , takes him through the process of delegation and stop having to try to be the answer to all things. And I think that’s a big part of what healthy leadership is all about.
I’m really excited that you came on today.
Cassie: Oh, I’m honored. Thank you.
Jon: Any parting things before we break? What would you say to a pastor who’s really struggling, besides, “Call me?” Because you can do that, too, if you’re listening, you’re watching, you can do that, too. Call Dr. Reid. You should do that. And we’ll provide her contact information in some of the notes on these things, but if you could look any pastor in the eye that’s really struggling right now, that are just holding it together and everybody else out there, is like, “Oh, we love our pastor. He’s so great. He’s perfect.” But inside they’re just reeling and tormented. What would you share to them in these times that they’re going through?
Cassie: You know, the first thing I would say is, “I’m so sorry, because something got you here. And I’m so sorry that you’re here.” And I think the other thing I would say is, “You’re not alone,” and that’s a lie, that you would be the only person that would be here and would be the only person that would be experiencing this at all. And, “I just want to say to you, you’re worth it. There’s nothing more worth it than you than the life that you have. There’s nothing more worth it than your family, than your health, your wholeness, nothing is more important than that.”
“And I feel confident even saying that if you were to ask the Lord, he would agree with me, and say, ‘You’re valuable. You matter to me.’ He created you. He didn’t create you to be a martyr or a slave for other people. He created you to be whole, so there’s people out there that want to help you be whole. I want to help you be well, and you’re worth that. And it will be there when you get back. Whatever it is…”
Jon: It’ll still be there.
Cassie: “It will be there. People will be there, needs will be there. Funerals, weddings, sermons to preach, ministries to run, they will be there.”
Jon: No shortage of those.
Cassie: No shortage. “And there’ll be a place for you.” I think that’s there too.
Jon: So, find somebody to talk to, right?
Cassie: Yes, absolutely.
Jon: Find somebody to talk to. I’m going to have Dr. Reid pray for us in closing here in just a minute, but I think we would both agree just to encourage everyone out there to begin to talk about this. I don’t think we realize how many people are sitting in our pews or in our congregation that are dealing and really struggling with mental issues, whether they’re mild or severe, that we’re talking about all these things in church and none of them are bad.
All of them are great topics, but I wonder if we’re skipping over really relevant needs because we don’t know how to talk about it. So, I would encourage you to talk, have a staff meeting about it, pull in trusted people and say, “Guys, I don’t know how this looks. I don’t know what we’re going to do, but I want us to talk about this and brainstorm.”
You got brilliant people on your teams that will help you process through this and come up with some strategic things and some strategic ways to do that.
Jon: So, Dr. Reid, if you would pray for us, and as soon as she says, “Amen,” we are going to cut it. So, thank you for listening, thank you for watching. We’re praying for you. We believe in you, and we’re going to get through this COVID-19 process together. Dr. Reid, I want you to close us in prayer.
Cassie: Sure. Holy Spirit, I just thank you for every person that’s listening and just engaging today. And I just thank you that you are for them. I thank you that you meet them right where they are. I just ask right now that you even speak to them in a way that you maybe haven’t before. I just thank you, Lord, that you silence the voice of the enemy in their lives.
I thank you that you have a future and a hope for them, and we say that you’re bringing the right people around them. I thank you for boldness and bravery for people to just overcome shame and fear to speak out if they need to. Lord, I ask that you provide people for them to speak to. I thank you, Lord, for the opportunity just to even share about this in our country and just with TKU and just overall that we’re talking about hard things.
And Lord, I just thank you that there’s calls on people’s lives. And Lord, I ask that you solidify that, that people feel secure and safe and know that you’ve have a place for them. You have a plan for them, and Lord, you have a plan for their hope and their future and their health, especially mental health. Lord, we thank you, and we just give you authority and glory in our lives. In Jesus’s name, amen.