Stress in Ministry?

stressed“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,…”. People in ministry today could relate to this quote from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Good news stories of individuals growing in Christ are often met with negative elements that hinder the ongoing ministry, whether they are stresses in the community, within the congregation, or in the home.

We have just returned from the Canadian Baptist National Pension & Insurance Committee meetings, held in Mississauga. Members in attendance were Karen Gunn, Benefits Coordinator, Charles Eagar, member of our Pension and Insurance Board and myself, as the Director of Operations for CABC. It was a highly informative time over a day and a half of meetings. We received good information, as well as information that causes some concern.

A number of our ministry staff who are in the CABC’s pension and insurance plans use the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), the confidential counseling service provided through Shepell-fgi. We were glad to know they are comfortable in using this service. Most of the reasons for seeking counseling are stress-related. Here are the Canadian Baptist national statistics, expressed as a percentage of the total counseling cases:

  • Workplace Stress  19.8%
  • Personal Stress  18.7%
  • General Relationship  8.8%
  • Anxiety   7.7%
  • Communication/ Conflict Resolution  7.7%
  • Life Stages  6.6%
  • Depression   5.5%
  •  Addiction Related   1.1%

Negative stress is responsible for many of the physical, emotional and mental ailments that afflict our society today. Ministry staff experience stress as they deal with conflict issues, either directed at them or when they are involved in conflict situations between others. Unfortunately, due to the nature of ministry, many pastors find it difficult to develop close friendships within their congregations. It can also be quite difficult when lines of authority are blurred and the pastor is accountable to many bosses.

Scripture admonishes us to be supportive of one another and to encourage one another. Let’s show ministry staff we appreciate them on a regular basis. Are there ways we can come alongside them from time to time to help lighten the load? On the staff side of things, do you take yourself too seriously and become too invested emotionally in a situation? Are there ways to step back and evaluate what is happening? Can more value time be spent with your spouse, your children and other family members?

This month Cheryl Ann Beals will be joining the CABC team as the Director of Clergy Formation and Health, a new department with the intention of ministering to ministers. We are excited about this new initiative. Stay tuned for more information.

Let me leave you with this quote:  “Fear is interest paid on a debt you may not owe.” (Anonymous)

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