A few weeks ago, it was incredible to see more than 7,000 Christian counselors, pastors, coaches, and ministry leaders converge on the American Association of Christian Counselors World Conference in Nashville. For those of you who are leaders and pour yourselves out encouraging others, I want to take a moment to encourage you.
I was honored to present my research a few times (more on that shortly) and grateful to bring several members of my team to run our ministry booth. We talked to a lot of you during four very busy days. All those conversations with leading voices in the field and on the frontlines of mental health care have left a lasting impression on us.
One of our main goals as a ministry is to equip you because you are the boots on the ground. Whether you counsel clients, minister in churches, or simply serve and love your neighbors, we create our resources with you in mind. Please use them (more on that below) and reach out to us to let us know how we can help you! We want to offer some very, very practical help.
And if you are connected to friends in this arena, please forward this blog to them!
First, a quick peek into our conference sessions …
I have been honored to present at AACC for many years. This time, I did a pre-conference workshop with my coauthor of Secrets of Sex & Marriage, renowned sex therapist Dr. Michael Sytsma. Our presentation had the best title ever, “Zippers and Wallets,” and equipped leaders to help couples navigate sex and money in marriage. (Cute, right?)
I also co-led a session with Jonathan Hoover, Ph.D., a Regent University program director and professor whose specific research interest is clergy burnout and self-care, and who is also a pastor at NewSpring Church in Wichita. (Can you tell why he is studying burnout?) Titled, “Let’s Talk About Sex,” the workshop equipped more than 400 attendees—especially clinical therapists—on how to help couples talk about sex. (Our research found that is a particularly pivotal factor for a marriage.)
Okay, on to your needs and how we might help.
We know the current need is overwhelming – and we and millions of others appreciate you!
We know that mental health, marriage, and other pain-point needs are overwhelming right now, and we want to say THANK YOU for all you do!!! As we told hundreds of leaders who came into our booth at AACC: You are doing work the everyday work with individual lives that we cannot do. Lives are changed and marriages are transformed— eternal impacts!—because you wake up each morning and do what God has placed in front of you to do. Our prayer for you echoes Paul’s: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)
But we also know you are tired. We know the demand for counseling and help today is FAR greater than the current supply of mental health professionals. We know you often have to turn people away—and that hurts. As one clinic director told us, “Our schedule is fully booked, and every day we are flooded with requests for counseling that we can’t meet. As a clinician, it just hurts to turn so many people away. To share a referral list and hear back that none of those people are taking new clients either. It feels a bit helpless.”
Long hours, overwhelming need and a sense of helplessness can cause isolation, compassion fatigue, and depression. In all our AACC conversations we also saw another major theme: People helpers get so busy and weary trying to meet the need that their own relationships and mental health suffer. Many stopped by the booth to check out books and resources for clients—and then confided they needed them for their own lives, too.
We hope you can take care of yourself and your own relationships, even as you keep going. And we want to help.
Here are some of the practical ways our ministry is here to help you.
Most importantly, I want to make sure you know about #1, as it can be a practical way to take work off your plate.
- Weekly blog content. Many of you have newsletters, but writing content is one of those things that you often just don’t have time for. When that happens, please use any of our weekly blogs/articles in your newsletter or social media! We spend a lot of time and effort on these blogs to serve everyday readers in their relationships—and to give counselors, leaders, and ministries resources they can share with their people. I invite you to keep an eye on our weekly topics. If you see something that would be useful to you and your people, you are welcome to excerpt that blog or link to it in your newsletter, social posts or whatever methods you use to communicate to your own audience, as long as you give credit/attribution to shaunti.com. (So if you haven’t subscribed to our weekly blog, click here to sign up!)
- Books and courses. From examining the underlying issues that drive relationship insecurities through bestselling books For Women Only and For Men Only to looking at the money and sex problems in marriage, to how simple kindness transforms relationships, to devotionals that take people on a journey to better mental health, we have two dozen books and courses that can help your people—and perhaps help you. Please check them out on our website or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and a member of our staff will follow up with you to discuss which of our resources would be a match for the people you serve.
- Speaking. Speaking is where the research-based a-ha moments come to life! We have heard innumerable stories about lives and marriages changed by the practical, doable, transformational truths we share from the stage. I say “we,” because in addition to my individual speaking calendar (especially women’s events), my husband Jeff and I love doing marriage events together. It is especially fun to watch the men in the audience totally engage in an event that some were initially reluctant to attend. Mostly because they relate to Jeff—a non-counselor, former-captain-of-the-football-team guy—who can legitimately demonstrate that if he can do this, they can do this! So we would love to serve you or your leader friends in-person or virtually. Please email us at email@example.com or visit my speaking page to see how we might work together.
- Research. We have been doing exploratory research for several years on the mental health crisis and evidence-based ways of addressing it. I can’t say much yet, and we aren’t sure exactly where this will go, but stay tuned for more. We would love your prayers that this project indeed becomes what we hope: a very, very practical way to help you as you help others.
Friends, again, I just have to say thank you. Let us know how we can serve you. The sea of 7,000 faces at the AACC World Conference offered a glimpse that together we can do more than we ever could alone. The harvest has always been great, and the workers always few—but we also know that God has called us to link arms to make a difference.
Let’s keep making one.
And if you are interested in having Shaunti speak on kindness for your workplace, church, school or community group, please contact Nicole Owens at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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More from Shaunti’s Blog:
- Solutions for Sarcasm? Yeah, Right. (Nix the Negativity Series, Part 3)
- From Grumbling to Grateful! (Nix the Negativity Series, Part 2)
- Always Suspicious of Your Spouse (or Others)? Here’s What To Do! (Nix the Negativity, Part 1)
- 7 Date Night Do’s and Don’ts (Part 2)
- 7 Date Night Do’s and Don’ts (Part 1)
- Broken Trust in a Relationship? Here’s What To Do