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Video Transcript:

Mike Jackson:

Good morning, everyone. This is Mike Jackson. I’m one of your state missionaries, and I have the privilege of serving in the office of leader care and church health.

We’ve been doing these events over the last several weeks to connect with our ministers, our staff members, and just to encourage you during these days that have been no doubt unprecedented and very challenging. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share with you and to be able to just welcome you today to this webinar.

Our focus today is on mental health issues. We realize it in these unprecedented days, there are some challenges that all of us are facing, whether it’s ourselves personally, someone in our family, or even those individuals that we might be knowing in our congregation or our community. So we’re glad to be able to address a very sensitive topic and pray that it will be of encouragement to you today, and to give you some resources and just help you. One of the persons that has joined us today is Dr. Rick Lance, our executive director. He’s our state missionary, leading in the area of our executive office.

So Dr. Lance, thank you for being with us today. I’m gonna let you share a word of greeting, and welcome to these folks. And lead us in prayer, and then I’ll come back and I’ll have several other words, as I introduce our panelists and introduce our format for today. Dr. Lance.

Rick Lance:

Well, thank you so much, Mike. And I’m glad to be able to be a part of this experience. And I’m also very pleased that you’ve joined us at this particular time. When we’re in crisis experiences of life, it magnifies those things which may be kind of under the surface, emotional matters, and perhaps some issues that we’ve not dealt with and they’re magnified during this time. And that’s not altogether bad. There is no stigma about being able to seek help, in times of need, that is really a biblical approach.

We know that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in times of trouble. But he uses human beings often to help us get through the worst of life. Some of you perhaps, know the names Jarrid Wilson, and Darrin Patrick. Pretty well known younger pastors who took their own lives, one last year, and one last week. It’s a sad time, of course for the family. And people who have experienced that, that is, their loved ones taking their own life or feeling suicidal emotions, need to have someone to lean upon and talk to. There is absolutely no stigma, for the moments we have like this, we can come together and be transparent in a confidential way.

These panelists that we have gathered today, are outstanding and have tremendous expertise in their field. I wanna remind you that as we gather today we do so in a safe place. And as we hear from them, feel free in any way possible to pose a question or a comment, because that’s why we’re doing this. We’re doing it for you. And we thank you for participating in this. Now let me join us in a word of prayer.

Our father and our God, we know you are our shepherd. You’re the one who guides us and guards us. Father, we thank you for the opportunity of the community of faith to be able to turn to people, who have experience and expertise in various areas, including mental and emotional health.

We thank you for the fact that we have today, panelists who will help us, be able to experience what it means to go through all of the crises of life and to do so with a spiritual, emotional and mental equilibrium. We thank you for the power and presence of your Holy Spirit. And we’re mindful each and every day is a gift from you. Thank you for giving us that wonderful gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, in whose name we pray, amen.

Mike Jackson

Thank you, Dr. Lance. Appreciate your support of these webinars and your participation, I’m grateful that we get to serve together and thank you for your leadership in these challenging times. Thank you, thank you. Let me just make a few comments before we begin with our panelists. I want you to know that we here at the State Board of Missions, wanna provide for you resources to help you along the journey. And one of the things that we want to try to do is to come alongside you in times of need and when there are those needs, we wanna assist you. One of the things that we have provided through this office the office of leader care and church health, is a counseling resource, made available to our ministers, there at home dependence to help them in times like this. And we want you to know that much of that is provided through our partner called Pathways Professional Counseling and we’re so grateful for them, and for all that they do. About all you’ve gotta do is connect with Pathways and let them know that you’re one of our Alabama Baptist ministers, they know the process of working through, getting a client number assigned and then they will set up appointments for you, they will bill us. But we wanna make that resource of counseling cost affordable, we wanna make it available to you in times of need. So feel free to fall back on that resource and call to us if you’ve got any questions. I’m grateful for the partnership that we have through Pathways Professional Counseling, there’re other counselors that we utilize all across the state, but Pathways truly has been our go to partner because of their love for ministers and because of their love for families. Let me take an opportunity to introduce to you everybody that’s here today.

You’ve already met Dr. Rick Lance, our state missionary who serves as our executive director. Let me introduce to you also Ken Allen, Ken is an associate in the office of leader care and church health. He gives leadership to the areas of church revitalization and church health as well as by vocational ministries. Ken will be facilitating our question and answer time after the presentation. Also, I wanna introduce to you George Yates. George is a contract worker with us. George comes to us from Kentucky today where his home is, and George has been helping us in the areas of church health and church revitalization serving there as a specialist in that area as a catalyst trying to help our churches. And George we thank you for being here with us today. We’re also honored to have Michael Bozeman. Michael is a former pastor, staff member, serving in that role through the years, felt God’s call into this area of clinical work with individuals. And so he serves as a counselor with Pathways Professional Counseling. And Michael has been a friend for a number of years, I’ve known the Michael’s family for 30 plus years, having roots and having served in the Gadsden, Alabama area, where Michael is originally from. So Michael we’re glad to have you, thank you for bringing to the table, your insights both from a pastoral perspective, having served in a local church as well as a clinical perspective, having gotten that training as a professional. And then Ross Hickman is with us. Ross is the president of Pathways Professional Counseling, and has been a friend for a number of years, as we have had that partnership with Pathways. And I’m so grateful for Ross and for his leadership there as president of Pathways. He’s also a licensed counselor, so he’s not just someone that is in an office that gives leadership as an executive, but he’s done hands-on counseling, and has served faithfully, and continues to do that through Pathways. So Ross, I’m gonna let you take the opportunity to share with us a little bit about Pathways and you can then pitch it to Michael, and we look forward to being online and hearing today, what you guys have gotta share with us in this very timely topic of emotional and mental health issues in challenging times. Thank you, Ross.

Ross Hickman

Mike, thank you so much for the kind words. Now I was thinking as we’re talking, everyone, I’m assuming we’re talking to 35 Plus folks, and y’all are in the cloud, so hopefully you can see me. So, I don’t know, a theologian might have to answer this question, so is this a multitude in the clouds, that I’m speaking to? Just wanna throw that out there, so hopefully y’all can hear me and see me. But seriously, we appreciate all of you, we appreciate the referrals. Just to give you a brief background, just to update. So right now we are engaged with 1500 clients at any one time statewide. So right now, the number this morning was 1480. And so that means that those are current clients right now that are scheduled are on our books currently. We have 46 locations, right now we have 25 counselors, so obviously our counselors travel. And so we would love to have counselors at each location each day, logistically that’s impossible at this point. So we really, I wouldn’t say hamstrung, but we really are limited with that, but we want to be a resource for you. So, whatever we can do, as far as your flock, as far as your ministers go, as far as yourself goes, make sure that you’re referring to us, make sure that we can take that baton from you. One of the biggest things, Michael and I have both taught at Sanford in a pastoral counseling class, and one of the biggest things that pastors ask us is about referrals, when to refer. There is no rule to that. But absolutely, if there are situations that come to your office, either individuals or couples that you feel maybe there’s, along with the spiritual aspect, there are some behavioral pieces to that. Some psycho educational pieces that maybe we could handle and might have a grasp on, don’t hesitate to call us, even if it’s a phone call to Michael, I or anyone else on the staff, just to bounce things off of everything, as Mike said, is confidential, we value that. Number one, legally we have to abide by that, but number two, just to protect the pastors in our areas, I’ve told Michael before, it makes me nervous, it scares me to think of being a pastor. Y’all are held to a higher standard and that I just take my hat off to you to say, I’m completely in awe of what you do every day, all the work that you do that we see, all the work that you do that we don’t see, is amazing to me. So please let us come alongside you in that journey and help you with that. Just two real quick things. We charge $100 per hour, per session, 50 minute session, hour session. We have pastors that still will say it’s free counseling, well, we are subsidized by Alabama Baptist, by SPOM, by private donors, but it’s definitely not free. It takes a lot of money, obviously to run offices, to be professionally licensed, to continue that licensure with continuing education. And so just the verbiage is to say, hey, we will never turn anybody away for inability to pay. So we have clients who pay 100, we have clients who pay 50, we have the clients who pay zero, and we’re absolutely happy to see everyone. We just wanna hold those folks that are, have the ability to pay accountable for that, that ability to pay so. Anyways, without further ado, I only get to say that in a meeting so I have to say it every time, I wanna introduce Michael Bozeman to y’all. Michael has been with us for several years now. Just a fantastic counselor, and as Mike said, the reason is his background. He was a minister for several years, and then got his master’s in counseling and has followed through all the training and the internships and all of the hours. And so he’s a excellent resource for us. And we just wanted to share with you today, one last time before Michael takes it over. If you have a question, or if you have a concern, or if you have a client maybe, or it’s yourself and you just don’t wanna talk about it today, or you don’t wanna talk about it online, please email one of us, please let us know if there’s anything that we can do. Even if it’s just a casual conversation, please seek that out. I was looking, I’m not a theologian but Christ had 12 counselors with him. Some were good, some were bad, some gave him good advice, some didn’t give him good advice. Obviously Christ didn’t need those counselors, but the example to us was, hey, you need a group of friends, you need a support staff, a support group around you, as a minister. So please utilize us in that resource, in that capacity. So, Michael, I’m gonna hand it over to you and we’ll go from there.

Michael Bozeman

Hey, Michael Bozeman, thank you so much for allowing me to, to be here with you guys this morning. I honestly as everybody’s been talking, I’m sitting here going, how are you even qualified to sit here and do this? And realistically, when Mike and, had reached out to me and Ross about, about this week and the topic this week on mental health, originally, we were just talking about depression and anxiety and just how prevalent that is. And I think it’s really prevalent, we can even see it moreso right now, in the times that we’re living in especially anxiety. In every client that I’m continuing to see through this whole pandemic thing, anxiety is almost always present and going on in their situation. And just my background coming back from serving at a local church for over 10 years and my own dealings with depression in my own life. I love this topic. I love to talk to pastors about these topics because I recognize that you guys are a frontline, a lot of times for people, way before we ever see them, they will come to you first. And so realistically and just in my presentation, I wanna take, about 15 minutes and just kind of share maybe from a clinical perspective some things about depression and anxiety. I’m not gonna wow you with something that you probably don’t know, but just some things that I see in the way that usually helps me to, when I’m processing these things with people.

The first is just to talk about depression and what is it? It’s this common and it’s serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel or the way that you think or the way that you act. It causes feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in activities that maybe of things that people once enjoyed. And if you’ve ever struggled in that place, you know that and you’ve had those feelings before. It’s super common. I mean, I think, over 3 million people a year struggle with depression. And that’s just the people that probably ever talk to anybody about it or ever say anything about it. Anxiety on the other side of the coin is this feeling of worry or nervousness or unease, and it’s typically about this imminent event or something with this uncertain outcome. So typically, when I’m working with people, I’m looking at them and we’re gonna talk about depression and anxiety in the way that I see it, coming from where their roots come from. And we can argue truth, we live in a fallen world and the enemy is who he is, and he’s a deceiver and he’s a manipulator. And so definitely the root comes from, just the fall of mankind, right? But depression as we see it, is this root in our past, right? Other side of the coin with anxiety, it has this root in our future. And helping people come to the understanding of Christ never intended us to operate in any one of those two places, right? Christ didn’t intend for us to ever have to do anything for our past. That’s what he does, the cross took care of all the garbage, all the stuff, that stuff that’s happened in our past, right? The cross took care of that. The same is true when we’re thinking about our future, right? When we’re constantly in this state of nervousness or worry about what’s gonna happen? Where am I gonna go? I’m I gonna have enough money? Especially now when we’re thinking about all the news and stuff that’s coming out about all the stuff that we’ve been living in now and the fear and the uncertainty. Going to Walmart is driving us to panic attacks and being super nervous or, just fearful of those things. And what we know to be true is, Christ is, he’s standing in our future, right? So when we think about this, in Christ, ultimate design for you and for me, he’s created us to live in this moment, not in our past, not in our future. And Christ calls us in these moments, to make the best decisions that we can make, to seek the truth, to walk in a way that is, that is, how he’s called us to walk, right? Now that’s tough, and that’s hard. And so I feel like a lot of my job when I’m dealing with people that are struggling in that place is with depression and anxiety is helping them recognize these areas of their life where they possibly are living in their past, that are possibly living in their future, right? And helping them draw back, the best form of counseling for people that struggle with depression and anxiety is something called cognitive behavioral therapy. And basically, cognitive behavioral therapy, if you think of it like a triangle, right? That at the top of the triangle you have your thoughts and then it goes down to your feelings, then it comes down to your behaviors, right?

So the thought of the over, I mean just a short version of cognitive behavioral therapy is, If I can change the way that I think, I’ll change the way that I feel, and if I can change the way that I feel, I’ll change the way that I behave. So if we’re seeing behaviors that we don’t like, we can trail it all the way back up to something that we, a thought pattern, a pattern or a thought process that we have. Now, I always tell people and I believe this, Jesus himself was like, the king of cognitive behavioral therapy because he’s gonna tell us like, daily renew your mind, focus your mind on things above. Because what we know is, what we believe, honestly and truthfully believe, will drive how we feel. And how we feel will drive, what we do, the behaviors we see. So if you think about it, if you have kids and if your kid comes into your room one night and he’s running a fever, you’re not gonna say, honey get the ice, let’s pack him in ice because we gotta get rid of this fever. No, you wanna go after the infection, what’s really causing the fever to even be there, right? So when we see poor behaviors or things going on in our life, like maybe we are less motivated, maybe we struggle to get out of the bed and we start seeing these behaviors consistently in our life, what we have to know is something is driving that. So like I can tell you there was a season in my life when I struggled with depression, and I found myself, I was still working at the church and I found my job really hard to do, I was struggling with even just doing the basic. And I was a youth pastor and I was always this big fun personality and I would find myself, I would come home from work and it was like I took this mask off and I could barely move. I was so tired, it was like I expended every bit of energy I had, in whatever thing I was doing in that day. And I remember calling my buddy who is a doctor and saying to him, I need to come in, I need you to check some levels for me. And I started explaining to him all the things that I was feeling and what was going on. And I remember him telling me things like, he said Bozeman, you’re depressed. And I was like, no, I’m not. And honestly, I remember saying this to him on the phone, I said, I’m a Christian, I can’t be depressed. And it was in those moments where, he pulled me back to this place of being a Christian had nothing to do with, struggling with, mental health and those kind of things. And honestly, it kind of led me down this journey. That ended with me where I’m at today. I remember when I was in seminary, and I took a Christian counseling class and I remember saying, then I was like, no way I’d ever do that, that’s probably the worst job in the world. The Lord has a funny sense of humor, as my life played out and just situations and how I really had this deep desire to help people understand things and walk through things, some of the hardest things in their life on the regular.

Other things that we see just other issues that come, maybe that you see in your own congregations are, we see a lot of self harming behavior, coming out of people that struggle with depression and anxiety, we see a lot of suicidal ideation. A lot of substance abuse happens because people trying to, just work through that struggle, and they medicate themselves in the way of different substances. We see eating disorders, also that come out of people that struggle with that. And I think like the Christian struggle for me always was that I used to, and I’ve heard this before, even when, pastors that I would see, they would come into my office for counseling is, I must not have faith, I must just not have enough faith, since I’m struggling with this or maybe there’s sin in my life. And I’m like, of course you have sin in your life, we live in a fallen world, everybody has sin in them, right? I mean, or maybe, I just don’t even know how to pray, I don’t even know how to talk to God, God doesn’t hear me, God doesn’t love me. Or maybe I just don’t believe what the Bible says. And, it’s easy sometimes like, when we’re in a good place, and we can see these things, and we can clearly say, well, that is so not accurate, right? There’s nothing that backs that up biblically for that to be something that I can, that just should be so true in my life. But the problem is when we’re in the struggle, oh, my goodness, all of those things make clear and perfect sense to us. Because just like Mike had said earlier, like, the enemy is a deceiver. He is good at what he does. And he’s crafty, and he’s cunning. And let me tell you, he knows the buttons to push, he knows the place in our past to try to pull us to, he knows the place in our future that we’re scared of, and he knows how to pull us. And if he can’t get us with our past, he’ll get us with our future, and we feel like we’re on this winding road coming back through the moment where Christ wants us to live, but it’s just for a stop there as we’re on our way over here. And so, I feel like, what I do a lot of times, and what I feel like you probably do a lot of times for the people in your congregations, is help them come back to being who Christ called them to be walking in the moment where Christ called them to walk, right? Ross said something earlier about, how do you know when, when it’s time, like, if you’re talking to somebody, how do you know when, well, this is just kind of more than I can deal with. And I tell pastors this all the time, maybe you feel stuck, maybe this person, you’ve kind of given them everything you know to offer. Excuse me. And it’s just not, we’re not getting anywhere, we’re not moving, right? And it’s just stuck, and you don’t know really what else to say. Or maybe when there’s issues that are brought to you that clearly, honestly, you don’t know how to handle. And you find yourself a little scared of what’s gonna be said next.

That’s a great time to really seek out a professional that can come alongside you. Listen, when I was in ministry, in my Bible, that I carried all the time I had, this name and a cell number on it. And what I’d heard for years was this guy was a believer, he loved the Lord and he was a good counselor. And it said, Rod, and I had his cell number. The funny thing is, he worked for Pathways. I didn’t know what Pathways was at that time, and I sent people to Rod Campbell, who’s one of our our Pathways counselors all the time. Because what I knew was there were issues that I just didn’t really know how to handle and I wasn’t comfortable talking with people about. I encourage pastors all the time, have somebody, have a good referral source for you. I’m sorry, I’ve got something stuck in my throat. That’s so important as for pastors. And just as we think through some of these things, I also love to just really draw attention to, like, different biblical examples that we see. And we can talk through these and we may if we have some time, but we see David, the struggle that David had all throughout the Psalms, right? The book of Job is probably where you push people to all the time but we, it’s a great story of, a biblical example of somebody that has struggled with depression, right? And this loss and in everything. Elijah, I love the story of Elijah. We see Elijah, man he has this huge victory, right? And all of a sudden, the very next moment, he is in like, only a day later he just comes crashing down and he’s running, from this vengeful queen, he’s hungry, he’s alone, he’s all those things, right? And we see God meet his need. I love the story of Naomi. And the reason I love the story of Naomi in the Bible when we’re talking about depression, and we’re talking about, mental health and those kind of things, because of all the things that Naomi dealt with after her husband and her two sons, she was living just in this refugee in a land, and we see her come back, to Israel, and she’s angry and she’s ready to give up on life, right? And even this dedication that she had, and her daughter-in-law Ruth wasn’t enough to keep her like from venting deep hurt to the Lord. But what I love about the story of Ruth, is we see the struggle in Naomi, right? And God’s answer, and his provision for her, it came in the form of another person. And when she needed it most, God brought Ruth into Naomi’s life. And I love that because I see you guys, I see what we do at Pathways and counselors all over the state, what we do is the opportunity to be that person, for somebody in their struggle. I say this all the time and believing in God’s infinite wisdom, he created more than one person because what he knew was we’re gonna need each other. He knew the struggles that we were gonna face, he knew the things that were gonna get us into a bad place way before we could even see them on our radar. And he is already putting people in place. You as pastors, I know the struggle.

You are the frontline of defense a lot of times for people and I recognize that the struggle in you can be just as big as the people that come into your office every day. And so I would encourage you, seek that person for you, when you’re in the struggle. I really appreciate the State Board of Missions and what they do for pastors and pastors families across the state. I get an awesome opportunity to sit across from some of these guys in their struggle, right? Not in a judgmental place, but just here. Because honestly, I get it. I understand what pastors do day in and day out and the burdens that they carry day in and day out. It’s a struggle. It’s hard, right? And so, people ask me all the time, they’ll say, Bozeman what should we do if we know people that are struggling with these things? I tell people first and foremost, be present, be willing to just sit with people, right? Admit your limitations, help them look for help when they offer to go with them, right? Whatever. And we can talk practical tips and stuff and, but I wanna kind of make sure that we like leave enough time for maybe some questions that you guys may have. And because I wanna, I want it to be more about, I guess more for you. And maybe you have some questions, maybe you don’t, if you don’t, we can talk through some other stuff. But I’m gonna pitch it back I think to, I think Ken Allen is the one who’s gonna kind of lead, sort of our question and answer.

Ken Allen

Michael, we do have a couple that are here. Tyler is asking if you could recommend a book that covers some of the topics that you’ve discussed. He’s saying this has been super helpful. So if there’s a book you’d recommend that would almost be a follow up to this.

Michael Bozeman

Ross, I’m gonna pitch that to you, Ross reads way more books than I do

Ross Hickman

Well, so Michael’s presentation is actually his own original. That’s why I said I loved, when Mike came to us with this idea to kind of look at it, and, man, we’re excited to have him and he’s done this topic several times, different churches, different pastor groups, even Chattanooga out of state. So really, we don’t have that per se, but what we can do.

Michael Bozeman

Hey Ross, what do you think about like “Care of Souls”? That’s always a great resource for pastors, just in the whole idea of, of working with their congregations.

Ross Hickman

Absolutely, so yeah, “Care of Souls” is one of the books that we use as a textbook for that class that we taught. And Michael, I think is still teaching. So that’s an excellent book that gets really in depth, is a great read, it has a lot of different nuggets that you can share and use. And I think, Michael, we could probably summarize, kind of what you said in your presentation. Maybe just give a brief overview in writing. Do you think we could do that and get out to everybody?

Michael Bozeman

Absolutely, yeah.

Ross Hickman

I think that’d be the best bet. Really, there’s not, that I’ve read there’s not a lot of books out there on this topic, obviously. And one thing I was gonna say, if you know pastors that just didn’t make it today or had an excuse, and just, didn’t wanna deal with this, we get it, we understand, please let them know we’re a resource for them, and we’d definitely love to share this information or even just chat with them on the phone, if they’re in a time where they just need somebody to talk with.

Michael Bozeman

I will say and point people to, we write, with Pathways, we’ve got our website there you can go to, there’s a Pathways blog, where different counselors, write different topics all the time, on just different things that are, prevalent in society today or things we see a lot of. So it’s got a ton of different options for you guys to go through, where many of our counselors have written blog posts on just a bunch of different topics, over the years, you can go back and it’s a great resource for pastors as well.

Ross Hickman

Let me answer one question and then Mike, I want you to answer another one. So as far as being back in the offices, man, what a tough question and a good question and I need an answer. We’re looking at being back in our offices seeing people by June 15th. June 1st, we will have different locations already live with in person, we’re doing Telehealth right now. And so we’re gonna do a combination thereof and obviously it’s a huge transition for us getting back. And so there are already some locations that are comfortable to counsel, clients are comfortable that are seeing people currently this week, and in the next few weeks, we should be back to at least a good percentage of in person clients. By June 15th, we’d love to see everybody back, we know that’s kind of a pipe dream. So I would think honestly, back to 100% by July 1st, but we should be in all locations back by June 15th at the latest. And then Michael, I don’t know if you saw, that one just, he said, a question to address some of the unique needs of the children of pastors and ministry leaders.

Michael Bozeman

Yeah, I mean, I saw that’s a great question. And a lot of the different, children that I see, most of the children that I see are teenagers more than children. There’s counselors that are much better with the kids, kids than I am, but my background in youth ministry, I get a lot of teenagers and a lot of what I see, dealing with teenagers is, like, is a lot of identity issues. The struggle is as they’re kind of coming into their own. They struggle because they don’t have that person. Like if you’re if, when we were growing up, you go to church and you have your youth pastor, you can talk to your youth pastor, where a lot of the youth pastors kids struggle with, I mean, just their own identity and not having that person. And realistically, it’s been a neat process that I’ve seen over the last couple of years where I’ve been able to, really come alongside of the youth pastor, and kind of help in those areas with their own kids. And just a lot of pressure. And so we see a lot of depression and anxiety from just pressure that comes from, my dad is on staff, or my mom maybe the children’s minister whatever, from that. Ross you may be able to speak more to, you know about children, children, and things that you’ve seen over the years. When you’re dealing with, staff families.

Ross Hickman

Yeah, and so the difficult thing is, so with the little kiddos, is obviously, their mirrors, and so they’re just mirroring what parents have. And so most parents should, let me, a lot of parents that we see will come in and say, hey, I feel like they’re saying, my kid’s broken, you need to fix him. You know, something wrong with my kid. And so a lot of times what we see is that that’s gonna be a parenting thing, so we come alongside and do kind of filial therapy, where we’re dealing with the parents, dealing with the children and really teaching the parents how to be non-judgmental, how to be, authoritative without being authoritarian. And that’s tough. With the kiddos, what we do, and we see mainly, like Michael said with the teenagers, a lot of times, they just want somebody to hear them. This is a place where they can be safe. Just the example would be, we put so many judgments and preconceived notions on these children, so a child will come in, and, maybe they’ll play with a truck and say, you’re playing with a truck? Well, and so in therapy, what we learned, and what we realized is that we’re not gonna identify that for them, we’re gonna let them identify it. So if a little girl is drawing a flower and they’re drawing it wrong, we’re gonna say, no that’s not how you draw a flower. Well, maybe that’s how they need to draw a flower, they don’t need to learn from us what a flower is specifically, they need to be able to express themselves and a lot of times we really mute that free expression within reason. And so that’s one thing, is just with those little ones is just going to their level. And so we talk about play therapy, and so we talk about players are language, toys are the words. And so really getting on their level Personally, I used to love video games. I have a 16 year old now, I cannot stand some of the video games, now none of them are, the shoot ’em up games, but I play video games with him, because I’m going to where he’s at. Many times we try to bring them along to where we are, bring them to the adult world or the teen world or the tween world, and they’re little ones and we need to be in their world a little bit. As soon as we can make that connection with that world, they’re gonna feel the camaraderie, they’re gonna feel that, that we’re listening to them, we’re attuned to them. The second thing I would say is making sure we’re getting off devices. We tell, the kids all the time to make sure you’re off your device, you have limited time, you need to get off, you need to get off, and they are addictive, I absolutely believe that. We need to make sure we’re not looking at our device or it’s not buzzing in the corner, while we’re playing or talking with them and then hold on just a second buddy, and you go take your phone and come back to them. I mean, what do we tell them at that point, and y’all know what we’re telling them when we do that so.

Michael Bozeman

I would also say, one of the things that’s super important, I think is, just the, because of the dynamics of what, ministry is and the times that you may move and the things that, change jobs and go to a different church or whatever, when the Lord moves your family. The struggle, just being in tune to where your kids are with that, because every time that you go into a place these people become your family. And when God moves you, it’s a loss for them. And so maybe opportunities to just help them process through those different things. Maybe, just make sure that, I think as adults, and I agree like I think that the Lord has, man he, children are the most resilient creatures in the entire world, I believe it. Some of the stories I’ve heard and to see children come out of some of the things that they’ve had to come out of, but it’s a struggle for them, right? And so just being in tune to those things and just, if they need somebody else to talk to, seek that out for them.

Ken Allen

Yeah, there was a question here Michael, and I think it may go back, Parker asked some advice on encouraging youth that are going through depression and what you mentioned earlier about think, feel and behave, may play a definite part. And again, social media, etc, it just becomes sick like at this point.

Michael Bozeman

I’ll say this, hey, Parker Allen, good to hear from you. But I will say, I agree like, realistically Parker, I feel like one of the best things as a student guide what you can do, I mean, you know they’re struggling because you’ve already built that relationship. So just continue to be present with them. And I will say just be in tune while they talk, don’t feel like you have to have all the answers allow them to speak, and while they’re talking, just pray for discernment out of the words that are coming out of their mouth so that you can almost like take, what you’re hearing from them, and filter it through what you know to be true in Scripture. So that you can then point them to the truth and help them, change the way that they’re viewing that if you will, right? Kind of what you just said Ken like, going back to, identifying the faulty thinking patterns with the truth and that’s how we do it. When I was a student minister, every time I spoke, the last words out of my mouth was, this is later, not the whole time. I was pretty terrible for the first little bit, but, every time I would say to my students, don’t expect to be able to recognize the lies of the enemy if you don’t know the truth. And so, if you’re not engaging the truth, you’ll buy the lie all the time because you won’t know any better. So it’s so important that we find ourselves in a place where, as youth guides where we’re constantly discipling our students, where we’re constantly feeding them the truth. And, and ultimately, the goal is just like anything else that the truth, when the lie comes immediately we can take it captive, just like the word says, and say uh-uh, I’m gonna walk in the truth. Some days we hit home runs, sometimes we swing and a miss, but it’s the fact that we’re still in the game.

Ken Allen

Absolutely, Michael, thank you. I believe at this point, we’re up to date on our questions. So, grateful for you guys doing that, and certainly we’ve got a few more minutes that, here if you’ve got any other questions that you want to submit.

Michael Bozeman

I was gonna ask, I didn’t know if George wanted to jump in on any of that.

George Yates

I appreciate you Michael and Ross and what you’re doing, and to sharing today. I was thinking a while ago, you know I’m here, if anything ties in, I’m a church health specialist, but emotional and mental health is not my specialty for sure, for certain, but organizational health is and if I can tie in with anything with that, that’s what I’m hoping to help to do today. But man you’re, this is some great stuff. I can’t write fast enough Michael, you’re doing. Just, some good staff information today.

Michael Bozeman

I appreciate that. And I just wanna say I know that, for the most part, I think pastors are on here, but for me, it’s about I know that it’s the overwhelming struggle that they have, just working through and going through the people and just the burdens that they carry on the regular day in and day out. And, I feel like, I’m thankful for the State Board, and I know we’ve talked about this, but I’m thankful for the State Board because they recognize that, and they give you an option. Like I said, we all need people. And I feel like, when we discount our need for people, we really put ourselves in a bond. And sometimes I feel like there’s this, I mean, sometimes and I know because I’ve walked in it before just this pride of, I can’t go talk to anybody, I can’t let anybody in. And I honestly, I say that because what I want you to be able to understand is when those are the thoughts that are coming out of your thinking patterns, the enemy has you where he wants you. I think Dr. Lance said it best, that we at the very beginning of this whole thing, we need people, it’s so important that we engage people in a way. Even as, as pastors that are in associations where you know another pastor and you recognize because you have a relationship with him and you recognize something’s off, something’s amiss, that we’re willing to look people in the face and say, hey, talk to me, share with me what’s going on. And what I love, what I love about what Mike’s office does for pastors is, it’s still anonymous, they have no idea who comes into Pathways, they have no idea and so it’s, and I think that’s the, the stigma maybe if we will, behind mental health is that, oh, my goodness, there’s something wrong with me and I can’t ever talk about it, and I can’t share that with people and I can’t let people in because I’m supposed to be the one. And I think when we get there, that the enemy just is available to just wreak havoc, wreak havoc on our families, wreak havoc on our ministries. And we’ve seen it time and time and time again. And, so I feel like even topics like this, just this opportunity today, where we’re willing to just say, here it is, I mean, realistically, the church is not immune to depression, the church is not immune to anxiety, the church is not immune to eating disorders, and the church is not immune to suicides, they’re not immune to these things, right? And I feel like, we just have an unbelievable responsibility to people and to ourselves, right? To do everything that we can do, to a, point people to truth, but as a minister, that you do everything that you can do to keep yourself spiritually, emotionally, mentally healthy, so that when the enemy is wreaking havoc on your congregation, when they come to you, you’ve done what’s necessary for yourself, to do what you can do and meet the needs of your people.

George Yates

Thank you, Michael. That is so good, I’m glad you unpacked that a little bit more for us, I addressed a little bit of that about a month ago, one of these, one of our first sessions here, and also in one of my blog posts, just briefly, just saying, we as pastors a lot of time are, we think we were above that, we can’t show that vulnerability. And so I’m so glad that you shared that, I just said it very simply that even as pastors were prone to depression. Because of this stress and everything that’s on us and trying to deal with everyone else’s stress. So thank you for unpacking that a little bit more for us for pastors too, and we’re not, one of my favorite sayings, I guess is, a lot of times, as pastors, we think, well, if I have to show that vulnerability, then I’m showing that I’m a failure. And that’s not true. Because that’s just being part of human and we’re all human. And we’re not called to be the Lone Ranger, what I was getting to say, one of my favorite sayings is, there is no such thing as a Lone Ranger because even he had Tonto. And so we all need that somebody we can pour into, we can look to for help. And so, and it is confidential, Mike and them they’ve, of course I don’t see any of it, but they don’t see names all they see is, as Ross mentioned earlier, is a number. And so thank you for helping with that. And I really do hope that people will, pastors and other staff will remember that and utilize that.

Mike Jackson

George, let me follow up there with that process. Again, we mentioned that earlier. We will provide 12 initial sessions for you to go to as a minister or a ministers dependent. Pathways or whoever the provider is, knows what we will reimburse them at and if you choose to use Pathways, you’ll walk away from there as a minister or your dependent, without owing anything. The State Board and the partnership we have with Pathways allows us to cover that. Now, if you go to another counselor outside of that group, you may have some out of pocket expenses, but most health insurances, do have a provision for mental health issues. And we reimburse $50 per counseling session, up to 12 sessions. Again, it’s all anonymous. There’s no way that we know Pathways or whoever the provider is, calls our office, Lynda Hicks handles that, she assigns a client number and we are billed based upon that client number. If there’s ever any question, I deal with a counselor or with someone at Pathways, just to affirm to make sure, there is opportunity that we can grant extensions if needed, but we do all we can to provide this resource for ministers and for their at home dependents which would be their wife, their children, in this time of need. And again, confidentiality, anonymity is part of what we wanna do to protect. And just this morning, I signed a requisition for Pathways Counseling to be reimbursed for the counseling they provided. And I gotta be honest with you, that requisition fee was for over $4200. A good part of my budget in this office is to provide that resource for our ministers, their spouse, their children, because we believe in them and we wanna help them. And I’m grateful for Dr. Lance, the wisdom of the State Board of Missions, our board of trustees to make provision for that resource as we try to come alongside and help. My family has been a recipient of that, when I was a pastor in Birmingham, my son struggled with some bipolar issues, some depression and the State Board of Missions came alongside and helped us. And so I am not only a recipient of that, but I’m a firm believer in it, because I believe we need to partner as we seek to bring, hopefully, wholeness and healing and health in those areas, as we provide this ministry called leader care. So you can contact Pathways, they in turn will contact us and we’ll set up that, if that’s needed, we wanna make that resource available to you. And you see on the screen, Doug has put up the information about how to contact Michael and Ross. But if you go online to pathwaysprofessional.org, you can find the information, you’ll call their office in Birmingham, and that office will set you up with one of the counselors in your general location and help out along those lines. So we try to make it as seamless and as painless as possible in the process. What we need you to do is be willing to go and we’re gonna come alongside and encourage you by making this resource available to you.

Ken Allen

Thank you, Mike. There was a question earlier, and we’re seeing this frequently. I think it was Michael Brooks that mentioned it. And that is pastors being caught in the crossfire of members. And usually these are strong opinions that we’re seeing on both sides to the current issue. And that is, here we are on one side with those that think, man, the government shouldn’t be in this at all, they shouldn’t tell us anything to do. And then on the other side, they’re saying, there are others that are saying, hey, we need to be very careful in how we are approach, reopening and gathering again. And so the pastors are caught in the middle of this. I experienced some of that during the, as a pastor in the tornado outbreak 2011. Just, a complete opposite that they’re hearing, and then they’re caught in the middle of that. Anything that comes to your mind at this moment, that either of you guys or George you’d wanna share?

George Yates

I would have pitched that to you Ken Allen, you’re the preacher around here Okay.

Ken Allen

Well, I’ll be honest with you. When it happened to me and I can remember on Monday, getting an opinion from a church member and then on Friday getting the opposite opinion from a church member when our building was destroyed in Coleman. I told it to our congregation on Sunday, I was just really honest. I said, this is a time when we all have our personalities, and we all have our different backgrounds, and we come at things differently. I think it’s a good opportunity just to be a believer, and to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. And Philippians two says, don’t think about yourself, but to think about others, and they have the mind of Christ. And so have in mind that opinions are opinions and things aren’t always clear. And in that case, when we have so many people on one extreme, and so many people on the other, then we need to say to ourselves, hey, in all honesty, this is a time for me, to be a follower of Christ. And to come under leadership and then for leaders as pastors to come with your deacons and to communicate that same attitude, having that attitude of Christ. And then as a whole present together to the congregation where you are, at this particular time.

Michael Bozeman

And I’ll say this Ken, there’s been seasons in my life when I was not very good at this. And I’ve tried really hard over the years to try to be better at this, where I never was good at taking criticism. I mean, who he is, right? But I wasn’t ever really good at it. And, so, but somebody once told me and I didn’t take it to heart then but I think over the years I’ve taken it to heart is that, I may not like what somebody is telling me, but I can always take away something from it. And honestly, I think if we are willing to listen, even when we totally disagree, I’m not saying we have to agree with everything. But try to see what it is in there that possibly I can take away, or that’s made me see something from a different perspective. It’s been a big help for me. And I equate it to in my own personal life, I’m not saying this about anybody else but for me, where the enemy really gets me with pride versus humility, right? And coming up, I don’t know if that speaks to anything, but when you were talking, it made me think of this, it’s what I thought. Yeah, that makes sense. But just recognizing that, just because somebody’s opinion is different than mine, and I really believe that I’m right, I mean, it is what it is. My prayer all the time is Lord, in that, what can I learn? Because I always wanna be teachable, if nothing else. Ross knows that he has to teach me stuff all the time, when I don’t do things that I’m supposed to do You know, you worked in my office with me Ken. Well, we’re, I mean, we’re all on a journey brother and some of us are further along than others. But anyway, there is a, and we’re just gonna take another minute or two here, but Jill is asking that, I find that doing the thoughts, feeling and then behavior system to be helpful. How do you help with the anxious feelings that occur in the body that accompany mental anxiety?

Ross Hickman

So that’s tough, people deal with it in their own ways. I would look at, because once it gets to feelings, and then behaviors, it’s very difficult to reverse that and you’re gonna go around the cycle again. Because in behaviors and I’m miss this my screen cut out about halfway through Michael’s thing, so sorry about that, but I’m not sure, and I’m sure he did, thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and the behaviors influence the thoughts again. And so it’s a cycle. And so we go through that, if you can then before it gets to the feelings really take those thoughts captive, and that’s biblical. I mean, that’s really creating a new mind, creating a new mindset to say, what are the thoughts before I get to the feelings before I let those thoughts grow into feelings. Okay, so what are the thoughts I have? And where are the triggers for those thoughts? And so what is it? And so if you can take it out, that’s kind of the cognitive behavioral approach. So the cognition, the mental imaging that we have, we take that and look and say, really, what am I basing this on? What are the thoughts based on? Are they based on like Michael would say, truth? Or are they based on just something I’m, some conjecture or somebody said something and so now I’m thinking about that, and then I get my feelings hurt because of that, then I behaving this way. And so, if you can erase that cycle, in the thought process and really take those thoughts captive, and look at what so to say for instance, one thing that we talk about, many years ago, I had somebody that came in and they were, they did not wanna drive They absolutely were terrified to drive. Hadn’t been in an accident, but they saw one, and so terrified younger person We talked about then, kind of the past experience, had they ever been in an accident? No, they hadn’t been in an accident. And so then we look at, we can’t live our life based on best or worst case scenario. We look at okay, is there a possibility that, anyone of us could get in our car today and we could go home? Absolutely. Do we live our life based on that? No, we base our life on just those not worst and not best case scenarios. And so there’s a little bit of that reality piece in there with that, and thinking about those thoughts. And before we get to faulty thoughts and assumptions that lead into faulty feelings and then faulty behavior, then we look at, okay, how can we erase that in the thought process? What’s the trigger to that thought? Where am I basing that on? And really getting to the bottom of that thought before it becomes a feeling. If that makes any sense.

Michael Bozeman

Yeah, and I would argue too that we need to make sure that we’re getting enough rest. That we’re moving around, some type of exercise, doing something, right? Eat, sleep and movement are huge in the way that we feel in our physical body. I can tell you, when I’m not sleeping well, I can tell you how it affects how I feel throughout the day how my anxiety will go up at the drop of a hat. I can tell you that, oh, my diet is just crazy, which exhibit A quarantine, I weighed 125 pounds when this thing started. But, so we see this, we know those kind of things. People ask me all the time, what’s the very best thing that I can do? I don’t know, I don’t know the very best thing, maybe sometimes we need to talk to a doctor, there might be a season where we need some help with pharmacology, if that you, I did that, I’m not embarrassed to say that I’m not. Sometimes it’s just so overwhelming the talk therapy and a season with possibly having to take something for our anxiety or our depression is just, it is what it is, you know. And I would argue the point with anybody that tells me that’s ridiculous. Because I lived that and it helped me and I’m still a believer, and Jesus is still on his throne, and praise be to the Lord. But I will say, one of the best things I can help people do in that whole thoughts, feelings and behaviors thing, is journal. Start journaling, start writing down your thoughts. Start keeping a journal of, I call it a thoughts journal. When you’re ramped up, when you’re low, low, where you’re ramped up with a panic attack or anxiety, just start free writing on a piece of paper. And the reason I want that on a piece of paper is because when you finally come back to a clear place, I want you to be able to read what you wrote through the lens of the truth, through what we know to be true. Because what that’s gonna do, is it’s gonna point out the lies that the enemy is telling you. And we have a much better chance of stopping believing the lies, when we’re able to finally see them as a lie. If that makes sense. I love journaling, I do it, when I can’t sleep at night, I’ll just start writing, because I need to get my thoughts out of my head. And if I ever let y’all read those thoughts journals, no way do they allow me on this call today. Just saying.

Ken Allen

Amen. Thank you, Michael. Thank you, Ross. We appreciate partnership between Alabama Baptist and Pathways. It is truly a great partnership through the years. And, it’s a needed partnership. I was thinking earlier as Mike was sharing about the monetary part of this. Again, another great reason for the cooperative program. All the details that are a part of us coming together as Baptist and sharing together. This is a part of that partnership that we have together that we’re able to resource in that way and on and on it goes, it really does. So again, thank you men for being here. Thank you for being a part of the panel. Thank you, George and Mike, Dr. Lance, we’re grateful for all that are involved. And Doug in the background certainly always, that we couldn’t do it without him. And again, thank you all. I’m sure there will be a time because we’ll be doing these continually in the future. And so, where there will likely come a time where we’ll have you guys back. Again, thank you for being a part of this last hour plus. Again, you see information there on getting in touch with Michael and Ross. Thank you again so much for being here with us, let me close us in word of prayer. Father again this day, is so good to know you and be known by you. Father, we know in your word that there are times and there were times when men of God and women of God had tremendous difficulty they were going through and they were questioning life and they were questioning you. And God when they were seemingly able to hear from you and to hear your word, Lord, it made all the difference in the world. And even the Lord Jesus, Father, took time to be with you. And certainly if he needed it, we need it. And so God as we go from here, may we go, certainly with the idea of feeding our souls, on your word in the presence of your spirit God and we need you in every way, Father, we are dependent upon you. Thank you, Father for being, the Lord Jesus Christ being that true vine and we are the branch. And again, we thank you for these moments together. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

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