Ministering and Living in Stressful Times
People are stressed! You see it everywhere from the millisecond it takes people to start honking their horns if someone delays in moving at a green light to all the acting out that is happening on airplanes. Life is stressful. Pastors can help with stress. They can take steps for their churches and themselves to find peace and the ministry opportunity in these difficult times.
We all know the many reasons for the stress we are currently experiencing. If you are a pastor, you might be experiencing stress multiplied! Directly feeling the stress of these times including inflation, COVID, racial and political tensions, war and tragedy in Ukraine, and our increasingly post-Christian culture is added to and exacerbated by the stress of those in your congregation and the pressure to help them as they are navigating difficult times.
Here are a few thoughts on how to handle all of this.
Helping Your Church
First, a certain amount of stress is not bad. It can motivate change, problem-solving, and action. One source of anxiety is trying to control those things that we cannot, but another source is not controlling or influencing those things that we can do something about.
So how have we as a church addressed the current challenges?
What has God called us to in these times?
Are you and your leadership seeing the opportunity in these trying times to bring Kingdom life to people?
Stress can become a problem when we never get or take a break from it. Giving your congregants an intentional pause from the stress and challenges of their lives through worship, the reminders of God’s providential care from His Word, fellowship, and perhaps the church just doing something fun together can be so helpful.
Stress for the Pastor
However, the breaks for the church are not always a break for the pastor! Taking your Sabbath, protecting family time, participating in a hobby, hanging with friends, or going on a hike or spending time outside can remind you that all of life is not a problem to be fixed.
For Christians and Christian leaders, these past couple of years have disrupted our security, stability, patterns, and comforts. While painful, the good to come from this is a purification and clarification of what we hold most firmly to when life is hard. The Gospel is sounding sweeter, and the Psalms are speaking to our experience. We all need time of connection with Christ and a feeding of the Word. It is important for the pastor and missionary to have a regular time for this outside of when they are ministering to others.
We may need help
Stress can be revealing. Many of us have been operating with no margin and the extra challenges have pushed us over the edge. Like Peter sinking in the water when watching the waves, we need someone to pull us out when we finally yell help. That is what Marble Retreat is here for. We are not Jesus, but we are the hand of Jesus and are here to help when it is just too much. And lately for many, it has felt like just too much. That is when we need to reach out and allow others to help us.