Stress is a complex issue; everyone feels stress – it is a part of life. However, when accompanied by symptoms such as sensitivity to sound, light, ‘going off’ food or intimacy with a partner then the alarm bells really ought to be ringing.
Just recently, I have felt more stressed than usual because as a Pastor’s wife the output levels have increased threefold – or that is how it feels! We all have periods where we feel that we will explode if we are given just one more thing to do! It can be extremely difficult to respond graciously when so many people ask ‘would you just mind…?’
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
Proverbs 3 v 5.
It’s inevitable that if we keep pouring in more and more then eventually there will be an overspill.
So how can we effectively prevent becoming burnt out?
The problem with trying to prevent stress is that there really isn’t a ‘one measure fixes all’ since stress can come through a broad variety of means.
It can emerge after a trauma of some kind, it can derive from a disparity of expectation and what you can realistically attain, it might be that you are a lone – ranger, having little support from your church… The first thing to do is to identify if stress is overwhelming you because of your own doing or whether the ‘excesses’ have really been forced upon you through unrealistic expectations or unclear boundaries.
4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.
Matthew 23 v 4.
For those in ministry, the notion that they have to ‘do it all’ is often a part of their make up. There are very few lazy Pastors or Pastor’s wives. However, there can be tendency to feel bombarded by other peoples wishes, desires and ideas that they lose sight of who really ought to be directing their paths.
It is good to be busy for the Lord – as long as that is what it really is. If you are so busy that you don’t have time for your family then you are simply too busy! If you are working every evening and the family is home, then you are too busy. If you are feeling lethargic, overwhelmed or exhausted it will affect your ministry. If you are too busy to pray then you are simply too busy. Ask God what it is that you should be doing and what it is that you need to put down. Delegate where you are able to… Take an inventory of your time and if possible engage a godly friend to share your thoughts and plans.
Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.
Hebrews 13 v 8.
As we approach a new year then that is the perfect time to take stock. Re-evaluate how you apportion your time and energy. In many ways this is a post about preventing burn out; I just hope that if you are reading this and are recognising that things need to change then I pray that you will make time to pray and ask God for wisdom. Ask Him to direct your paths and He will lead you on a walk that will reflect more of Him in your ministry.
May He bless you this Christmas time and in your future ministry.