When those inevitable stressors come, we can — and must — control how we respond to them. Often, our responses are more important than the actual conditions we are responding to. We have the power to make things better or worse, depending on how we respond.
Our responses are critical. The people around us will naturally emulate what they see us doing. Thus, our response is magnified and multiplied throughout our congregation. A good reaction will encourage your church to respond to crises with hope and faith. A negative response can do just the opposite.
The problem is that stressful situations don’t often call to schedule an appointment. Instead, they drop in unannounced and unwanted — usually at the worst possible times. We need to decide beforehand how we are going to respond to difficult times. We suggest you make these four choices before the storm hits, so you will be ready when it does:
- Choose hope over despair. Even when it looks like there’s no way out, you must rest in the fact that God is always in control. Since He is in charge, it is always too early to give up hope. We serve a living, powerful, God!
- Choose faith over fear. It is natural to become afraid when we are faced with crises. But trust that God has a plan, even for this hard time. Trust Him to work something good out of very difficult circumstances. He can do great things in us and through us if we simply trust Him.
- Choose peace over turmoil. When we say this, we don’t mean you should just try to achieve peace at all costs. Some things are worth fighting for. We believe that, as shepherds, we need to protect the sheep. Sometimes that takes a warrior’s mentality. But we can go to war with the peace of Christ ruling in our hearts (Col. 3:15).
- Choose action over inaction. Stressful situations can paralyze us. What if we make the wrong move? What if there’s more to the incident than we know? These are legitimate concerns. But inaction is almost always the wrong response. I (Nelson) often tell my coaching network partners to “run toward the conflict.” Don’t shy away from a predicament just because it’s difficult.
Two things are almost always true. First, very few crises will resolve themselves without any action on your part. Something caused the stressor to happen, and something will need to be done to resolve it. Second, few mistakes are fatal. It’s easier to recover from a misstep than it is to repair the damage done by doing nothing. Take bold action, walking in peace, hope and faith.
– Nelson Searcy and Richard Jarman
The above excerpt is from p. 38-40 of The Renegade Pastor’s Guide to Managing the Stress of Ministry.
Pastors Nelson Searcy and Richard Jarman share their secrets to effective stress management with practical steps and insights that you can start implementing immediately! God wants you to be a fruitful, faithful minister of the gospel. He wants you, as a Renegade Pastor, to rise above average as you pursue God’s best for you, your family, and your ministry.
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