Thursday, July 18, 2013

Pastor to Pastor - Six Lessons To Help You Handle The Pressure of Ministry

By Carey Nieuwhof
Here are six lessons that have helped me learn to handle the pressure of ministry well.
1. Understand the perfect storm of work/faith/community.
Church world is the only place I know of where what you believe is what you do and the people you serve are also your friends. You need to understand this. Understanding why something is emotionally confusing is the first step toward untangling the confusion.
2. Find friends who aren’t in your church or organization.
Be friends with the people you live with and serve. But find some friends you can talk to about anything. You don’t need many—even two or three is plenty, but they can be invaluable. If you only have friends ‘inside’ the church, there’s always a dual relationship. So develop some friendships in which you can talk honestly. It’s healthy. An easy choice is to find a peer (pastor or key volunteer) in another church or community.
3. Don’t base tomorrow’s decisions on today’s emotions.
This one is so simple, but so often missed. Don’t make decisions when you’re angry. Just don’t. Go to bed. Pray about it. Call a friend. Wake up in the morning and then make the decision. Or wait a week. Don’t make the decision Until. You. Calm. Down. You’ll thank yourself later.
4. Seek a Christian counselor.
I’ve gone to a counselor numerous times over the last 12 years. I’m pretty sure it’s why I’m still in ministry and why I’ve got a solid marriage today. Don’t think of it as an expense. Think of it as an investment. Your spouse, kids, church and colleagues will be grateful you sought help.
5. Develop a devotional life that has little to do with work.
I keep talking about this because it’s so important and so many Christians don’t have a solid devotional life. Here’s why: One of the common casualties of serving in the church is your devotional life. You get too busy to read your Bible. Or you ‘cheat’ and make your sermon or lesson prep your devotional time as well. Don’t. God loves you for who you are, not for what you do.
6. Develop a hobby or interest outside of work.
Or you might say, get a life. I struggle with this (because I love what I do), but if you have a hobby like photography, hiking, painting, woodworking, golf, skiing, cycling—something to get your mind and heart into fresh space, you will be richer for it. I cycle. I also write. And I love to travel. They’re all good for my soul.