Recently LifeWay did a survey asking pastors where they feel the greatest stress. The responses make it apparent that ministry has its challenges. Here are some of the strains of ministry:
- 84% of pastors say they are on call 24 hours a day. Crises do not take a break, so pastors can’t either. Almost every pastor feels tension when the phone rings late at night.
- 80% of pastors expect conflict in their church. Conflict and criticism come with the role of pastor. It is to be expected. But that doesn’t mean it’s not stressful.
- 54% of pastors find the role frequently overwhelming. The key word here is “frequently.” Over half of the pastors feel this way.
- 53% of pastors are concerned about their financial security. It’s a shame a few pastors have given the vocation a bad name with their extravagant lifestyles. Most pastors are paid modestly. Over half of the pastors admit financial struggles.
- 48% of pastors often feel the demands of ministry are more than they can handle. Many church members expect pastors to be omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. In a church with an average attendance of 200, pastors are often expected to be at 15 or more meetings or events each week. It’s impossible to please everyone. (Source: Lifeway/Tom Rainer)
So how can we handle this kind of stress? Today’s blog shares three ways to help care for your soul.LET’S TALK
1. Take time to care for yourself.
Those words, somehow, don’t seem right. We are called to care for others, not ourselves, right? However, we can’t help others if we are unhealthy. Pete Scazzero, an expert on emotional and spiritual health wrote this: “Caring for ourselves was difficult for us to do without feeling guilty. We unwittingly thought that dying to ourselves for the sake of the gospel meant dying to joy in life. We had died to something God had never intended we die too.”
“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” 3 John 2 (ESV)
2. Enjoy Life.
Don’t take yourself so seriously. Too often the only life we know is ministry. Once in a while, you need to do something totally unrelated. Do you have a hobby? What do you do for fun? Can you laugh and have a good time? Believe it or not, there are studies that show that leaders who have a good sense of humor are more effective. They use humor to connect with others and lighten the moment. (Primal Leadership). Levity is also a great stress reliever!
“Being cheerful keeps you healthy.” Proverbs 17:22 (GN).
3. Take a retreat.
I like to get things done but it is so important for me to slow down. Henri Nouwen said, ‘Without solitude, it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life… We do not take the spiritual life seriously if we do not set aside some time to be with God and listen to him.” That is something I am committed to daily, but also for more extended times. Periodically plan a half day or full day to just get away to pray and plan. I have found that so important. Getaways help replenish my heart and soul. They force me to focus on what really matters – my relationship with Christ.
“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” Mark 6:31-21 (NIV)
BEFORE YOU GO
This coming week we have Mid-Winter Retreat. It is a time to get away and relax and be refreshed. Our focus this year is our marriage and families. Please be praying for the pastors and spouses who will be attending.