1. Reading inspiring, spiritual and/or meaty (deep content) books, articles, blogs that you’ve intended to read, though haven’t had the opportunity to read. Most important, reading God’s Word seeking meaning and purpose in your life and ministry.
As a pastor or leader of Christ followers, storms can be frequent in the ministry office or just random on Sunday mornings; never something we necessarily desire or expect. Yet within the chaos, spinning confusion and hurt, someone generally stands up to lead. How does that happen?
Leaders accept storms as a reality.
Leaders use storms as opportunity for growth.
Stepping back after a disaster, to look globally at the bigger picture can be overwhelming though hopeful at the same time. After addressing basic physical and emotional needs, a leader can bring opposing beliefs and people together to rebuild. The leader must have vision of what can be different.
Leaders point people to put their trust in an all powerful God.
Always remember, suffering leads to greater dependence upon God and a ministry’s strength in character!
How will you respond?
In a 2011 survey of 409 ministry leaders, The Center for Health found, 39% of ministers acknowledged they get “stressed very often to fairly often”. Sounds normal for anyone to get stressed when leading people to know Jesus Christ?
One of the highest causes for “ministry stress” is solving problems, whether problems people present, problems in program organization, or problems at home. Helpful hints are effective time management, saying “no” to others or your guilt or what others might think.
Yet one of the most effective remedies can be is to take an inventory of what causes you the most stress in a given week. Such as listing every day of the week across the top of a piece of paper, then divide the day into three parts (morning, afternoon and evening) on left side of paper. Now think of each day and time period by identifying what causes you stress (a specific meeting, phone calls, replying to e-mail, lesson/sermon preparation, specific people).
Next, while looking at your stressors on the paper from a global/overall viewpoint; what do you see? Then look at what days and times are the most stressful. Also, what areas of stress are listed most?
Did you learn anything about your present stress?
If so, what is in your control to adjust now, based upon what you have learned?
Make an adjustment before you “stress out”!
One’s understanding and motivation of physical activities and nutrition can determine one’s health. Yet obstacles like little time to work out and lack of money to buy healthy foods can impede an individual’s healthy habits. Often, where you live and work influences your activities and eating habits. Plus, an individual’s genetic makeup and abilities/disabilities can greatly impact one’s health.
Let’s be real, one can be captive to these obstacles or inspired to overcome through discovering what is important and valued in serving. For example, if you were 10 pounds lighter, how would walking up stairs or moving classroom chairs feel different? How would you feel if you did not experience your typical winter sinus infection or flu symptoms? What about possessing the physical and motivational energy you need to connect with someone needing spiritual support? Are these and other healthy side effects worth the time and effort needed to be healthy?
So what are some options? Pick one or two of these ideas to fit into your schedule.
- cook and store several nutritional meals at one time, to be used for lunches, snacks and dinners.
- if you snack, store you office desk with healthy carbohydrates to give you energy rather than fatty, sweet or salty that leave you wanting more.
- after eating several limited calorie meals in a row, have a “cheat” meal that you enjoy.
- the next time you cook, add up the calories you plan to consume and remember it takes 10 minutes of aerobics to burn 100 calories.
- when under pressure or stress, drink 1/2 glass of water and/or take a brief walk to cope rather than eating.
- break up exercise sessions into two 15 minute sessions, such as before you shower, after lunch or walking the dog.
- exercise with a friend, meet a friend at a gym and/or consider activities you did in your early twenties.
- purposefully talk to others about their activities they find helpful and try them out one at a time.
- at night, set out your exercise clothes near your bed as a reminder and motivator.
What health obstacles will you overcome today?
Leaders are driven people, but not all are driven by the same forces. Each pursues something desired, sacrificing many other things for the one thing. An intrinsic force tells the leader to keep moving, keep battling no matter what. That one thing may be as shallow as ego or fame. Or it may be as pure as helping people see heaven as their primary hope.
What’s your one thing? What do you value so much that you are driven to achieve it, to reach it, to share it? For Solomon it was wisdom. For my missionary friend it is training national leaders. For a professor I knew it was truth and sharing truth with the world. For King David it was passion for God, and for his word. For my niece it is rescuing young women from slave trafficking.
We all have values, but leaders act on their values and urge others to join them. Their courageous action inspires followers who would never act on their own. What you want—that one thing—good or evil—becomes the value your followers will pursue as well.
Try this exercise: jot some bullet points of your most time-consuming activities. Beside each, note the value displayed to followers by the activity. Are these the values you want to pursue and share?
Problematic e-mails, disappointing meetings and awkward encounters often cause any ministry leader some type of anxiety and grief. Yet meaningful reminders that problems are also opportunities can change anxious reactions into meaningful encounters.
Consider the young shepherd’s size when he insisted on fighting Goliath. An adulterer who Jesus taught about “grace”. An old disciple, stranded on an island, who saw and wrote about the “eternal kingdom”. How did they view their limitations and problematic circumstances?
Reacting to our gut and disappointing situations is quit normal, actually expected. What happens after our initial reaction is most important. Reminders help us to surrender our initial reactions to God, to see the situation as an opportunity for Him to work.
One reminder is the use of S.W.O.T. S=strength; W=opportunity; O=opportunity; T=threats. This acronym helps when planning any program, event or problem-solving situation.
Practically speaking, take out a white piece of paper or use a white board. At the top, define the problem. Underneath the problem, write Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats from left to right. Next, ask God’s Spirit to help you write out your/team’s characteristics, under each category. Then write out action points made up from the S.W.O.T..
Through God’s lead, you are now ready to respond to the problem as an opportunity, whether individually or as a team.
How do you rate on the questions below?
Not At All = 0; Rarely = 1; Sometimes = 2; Often = 3; Most Often = 4 All the Time = 5
1 Do you feel run down and drained of physical or emotional energy?
2 Do you find that you are prone to negative thinking about your job?
3 Do you find that you are harder and less sympathetic with people than perhaps they deserve?
4 Do you find yourself getting easily irritated by small problems, or by your co-workers and team?
5 Do you feel misunderstood or unappreciated by your co-workers?
6 Do you feel that you have no-one to talk to?
7 Do you feel that you are achieving less than you should?
8 Do you feel under an unpleasant level of pressure to succeed?
9 Do you feel that you are not getting what you want out of your job?
10 Do you feel that you are in the wrong organization or the wrong profession?
11 Are you becoming frustrated with parts of your job?
12 Do you feel that organizational politics or bureaucracy frustrate your ability to do a good job?
13 Do you feel that there is more work to do than you practically have the ability to do?
14 Do you feel that you do not have time to do many of the things that are important to doing a good quality job?
15 Do you find that you do not have time to plan as much as you would like to?
|>15||Little sign of burnout here. You’re pretty normal.|
|>25||Be careful – you may be at risk of burnout, particularly if several scores are high|
|>35||You are at severe risk of burnout – seek help from a mentor or professional.|
|45 +||You are at very severe risk of burnout – do something about this urgently.|
Permission granted use from: © Mind Tools Corporation, 2003
Note: Scores adjusted due to formatting.
In 2012, Gallup polls released American religiosity results, finding 51% of protestants viewed themselves as very religious. This year, a poll by this writer found 24% of conservative, Evangelical, Midwest ministers rated their relationship with God as “very well”, compared to 76% of the same minister group identified as “moderately” to “somewhat close to God”. The comparison of survey results is limited due to the differences in surveys and research projects.
There was no difference between male and female ministers (2013 Minister Survey), though a trend was found as ministers’ aged, they viewed their relationship with God as closer. The effect of age on a ministers’ relationship with God is easily understood. Potential need for younger ministers is for spiritual growth in early years of ministry and life challenges.
Even in the limited comparison, both American Protestants and Ministers acknowledge there is room for growth in their relationship to God. Honest expressions of their humanity and spiritual needs are the beginnings of true hunger and thirst for God.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.”
Neurologist today support using brain chargers to energize and strengthen the brain capacity for mental durability. Besides mental breaks, a good night’s sleep and a healthy diet, here are some of their recommendations:
1. Mental exercises like word/numeric puzzles, scrabble, card games on your phone or tablet.
2. Use healthy means to handle stress such as exercise, defusing frustration and letting go of worry saves vital mental resources.
3. Stimulate the creative side of your brain through music, creative writing, laughter or any sensory stimulation.
4. Block one sensory organ (sight, ears, smell, touch) while using the other senses to identify common objects, movements or sounds.
5. Meditating on God’s Word, replacing negative thoughts with spiritual promises, wisdom and truth.
Bonus: Most effective use of the brain’s power is setting a long distance pace throughout the day, using variety in mental tasks, with numerous breaks.