Chancy Gore, Wylie, TX — All ministers are human like everyone else. However, as Christian leaders, we should a keep a biblical spirit-led check on our reactions to the stresses of life. I try to always allow the Holy Ghost to produce peace, gentleness, meekness, longsuffering and temperance in my spirit. The Holy Ghost calmed down my anger, frustration and basic reaction to life when I came to God. I made the Lord a promise when He called me to preach at 17 years old – that with His help I never wanted to “smite the rock” when told I should only “speak” to it.
Another key to keeping life’s pressures at bay is in the home. Cynthia and I strive daily to keep our home atmosphere healthy, balanced and loving. I would encourage fellow ministers to pinpoint the exact reason they are angry or frustrated. I would encourage them to know that it is okay to feel these emotions, but we must be careful how we react. The Bible tells us to be angry and sin not. A man who can control his spirit is more powerful than a whole fortified city. The Holy Ghost is the key here. Sometimes, the best thing I do to balance it all out is to go fishing.
Steve Waldron, Albany, GA — Dealing with negative emotions is more common than maybe we talk about. When we go through a trial or struggle, we feel isolated. This leads to anger, stress and frustration. I think being open and honest about trials we face helps others not feel so alone. Prayer and scripture really are the keys to keeping our human spirit in alignment with God’s Holy Spirit. Other ideas that may help are just getting away for a short time, having fun, or even going to a special service somewhere. Keeping an upbeat, faith-filled attitude around my family is so important. I greatly appreciate the confidentiality I have experienced over the years by great men and mentors that God has brought into my life. We bear one another’s burdens. I also confide in my wife. I used to shield her from every bad comment or situation, but after 31 years of ministry, Sandi has grown accustomed to the intricacies of pastoring and shares my load.
2 Corinthians 12 and Acts 14:22 have helped me keep a Biblical perspective on things. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but God delivers us out of them all.
Arlo Moehlenpah, Poway, CA — Since I only pastored a short time I don’t know how common this problem is; but in my experience I have found that in dealing with negative emotions, forgiveness is a key. And realize that it might be you who is partly to blame for the problem. Also, get adequate rest and exercise. At one time, two of us faculty members at one school said we would just “keep our mouth shut and go play golf.” A minister can keep negative emotions from affecting his family and personal life by not talking about problems in front of his children. It probably would be wise not to always unload on your wife, as well, as you do not want her to get bitter. Sharing with a trustworthy fellow pastor or minister would probably be a good idea, as we all need counsel once in a while. I would advise any pastor or minister to put forth effort to communicate, pray and forgive.
Raymond Woodson, Vancouver, WA – Stress is common due to demands of changing times and ministry adaptations to approach and meet those changing needs. Frustration is mostly due to delayed or unfulfilled expectations. Anger is least common in Kingdom-minded ministries. If the load gets too weighty, some may want to “drop out.” They may be due to misplaced priorities possibly brought on by uncorrected approaches to stress-related issues. If a fellow minister came to me for advice in this area I would recommend to always remember whose Kingdom this ministry is empowered from. When it becomes too heavy, take a break! My reminder verse is Philippians 4:6-7. My pastor taught me to “leave the job at the office.” Take a day with your spouse and/or family once a week. We must learn to leave the unchangeable with “Him who alone doeth great wonders.” [Psalm 136:4]
Robert Linder, Reynoldsburg, OH – Anger, stress and frustration generally flow from hurt, disappointment, and unmet expectations. All pastors and ministers must be prepared to meet these challenges in a healthy way. When negative emotions are pressing, I do my best to evaluate the quality of my personal devotions and worship life. Even a minor drop-off in this area can create major challenges. I am learning that the proper amount of rest and the right kind of nutrition can have a strong influence on my emotional health.
If asked, I would remind my colleagues that ultimately “our meat is to do the will of Him that sent us, and to finish His work.” Get out of the people-pleasing business and be at peace with what you have accomplished for His cause. There is a level of adversity that God allows so that we can be stirred to take the action needed to get ourselves right. My wife and I discuss openly the challenges that arise; she is instrumental in helping me to regain the proper perspective. Also, there are a couple of ministers I am in regular contact with, and their support can always help me refresh my perspective.
Larry Arrowood, Seymour, IN – Stress and frustration in ministry comes with the territory. The primary concern is how we handle it. We can become angry and lash out at others, play the blame game, allow our frustration to destroy our health, or we can maneuver the rapids of life. First, we must realize that there is an adversary. We must anticipate difficulties and appreciate successes. One of the ways to do this is to maintain flexibility in our schedule. We must adjust as we go. Also, it is important to network with those who know. Ascending the top of Mt. Everest was impossible until one person accomplished it. Don’t expect a lot of affirmation, but you are not alone. You stand alongside men like Abraham, Moses, David, and Paul. Finally, stay close to Christ. One Christian counselor draws from the analogy of Mary and Martha: Mary sitting at Christ’s feet; Martha busy in the kitchen. The counselor explained that he has never once had to minister to a “Mary” who failed, but he has dealt with many “Martha’s” who failed. Those who stay at the feet of Christ are not as vulnerable to failure.