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-How can church leaders unintentionally become codependent with the people they serve?

-What happens when we let the people we work with/help/support become like gods where we do all we can to please them?

-Why is it important for church leaders to have healthy boundaries/self-care and what are the consequences if they don’t?

In this week’s episode, we are graced with the presence of Rachel Engles, LMFT. Rachel is a licensed therapist and shares with us about her work with church leaders, including those who struggle with codependency. You’ll hear her share about her own codependency when she worked in ministry and how she was “a candle burning at both ends” trying to serve her students, staff, and superiors. Rachel explains how, with the church leaders she has worked with, there can be a misinterpretation of Christian teachings that can lead one to believe it’s virtuous to burn themselves out. You’ll hear how Rachel was able to help herself and specific tools she provides her clients to help them create balance in their lives. It’s a must-listen!

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More on this episode’s guest:

Rachel Engels is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and the owner of Flourish Counseling Services in Los Angeles, California. Her passion is to help pastors, leaders, and other therapists be vibrantly emotionally healthy, and well equipped to carry out their callings, so they can impact the world without burning out and running themselves ragged. She loves a good discussion on the intersection of faith and mental health, and is currently writing her first book on what it does — and doesn’t — mean for Christian leaders and helpers to “suffer well.”

Rachel’s Freebie!


More deets on this week’s episode:

We start with hearing about Rachel’s experiences with codependency, including her time in ministry with college students. She shares about the expectations she put on herself (as well as those put upon her by others), which almost led her into a complete and total burnout.

Rachel then shares about her own conceptualization of codependency and how it relates to those she often treats in therapy: church leaders. How do church leaders unknowingly become codependent with the people they serve?

We transition to hearing how Rachel has seen and heard the church leaders she serves misinterpret church teachings and virtues which has led them to work late, be unable to say “no,” and neglect their home/family life in order to uphold the standards they put on themselves. Rachel discusses the consequences of codependency in church leadership, which includes burnout, leaving the church entirely, and providing a disservice to those they serve.

Rachel concludes by sharing with us some key tools that she uses with clients in church leadership to help them create a sense of balance through healthy boundaries, coping skills, and realistic expectations on themselves. Thanks for coming on Rachel!

Rachel’s Freebie!

Questions for you:

What came up as you heard Rachel’s definition of codependency?
How do you relate to Rachel’s example of her codependency while working in ministry? What aspects of your codependency were you reminded of?
Have you experienced your church/religious leaders display behaviors related to codependency? Or did they encourage codependent choices?
Have you or one of your loved one’s felt disserved due to a church leader doing too much for too many people?
What from Rachel’s tools resonated with you most? How can you integrate that in your life this week?
Thank you for listening!

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