No job is easy, but the job of a pastor can be particularly stressful. Not only are you expected to perform while you’re on the job, but you’re expected to perform while you’re “off the job” as well. Sometimes it can seem like you’re on-call 24/7.
The stress most pastors face isn’t just uncomfortable. It can be debilitating. It can ruin families, end careers and lead to emotional, spiritual or physical burnout.
If pastors want to stay in the ministry, they have to be very conscious of their stress level and have ways to moderate it.
If you’re a pastor, here are five ways to moderate and manage your stress level.
1. Have a mentor
Every pastor should have someone who is speaking truth into their life. This person should be someone who is your age or older, who has the spiritual and emotional maturity to hear your honest struggles, and to give you feedback.
If you don’t have a mentor, don’t wait for one to come to you. Seek one out!
This person must be someone you trust completely, so you can share honestly with them, and so when they give you advice, you will take it to heart.
Don’t underestimate the power of this mentor. We were never meant to walk this difficult journey alone.
2. Find other pastor friends
Friends are different than mentors, and we need both. It might be good, sometimes, to seek friendship with pastors from other churches. Other times, the pastors you work with will be a great support for you.
Either way, these are the people you do life with, and they help relieve your stress by making your life more manageable.
You share meals together, watch each other’s kids, take vacations together, run errands for one another, pray for each other, and walk beside one another as you walk through difficult seasons. As it says in Galatians (6:2) you “bear one another’s burdens.”
3. Work out
The health of our physical self is incredibly connected to the health of our spiritual and emotional self. For this reason, working out to stay in shape is a vital part of any pastor’s life.
Not only can workouts be a quiet time for prayer or reflection, the chemicals released when you work out actually help to manage stress and balance hormones, chemicals and blood sugar levels that might otherwise contribute to feelings of depression, frustration or being overwhelmed.
4. Invest in your family
The tendency for tired and stressed-out pastors is to neglect their families, not because they are mean or vindictive, but simply because they perceive it as another repsonsibility that will add to their exhaustion and stress.
Begin to shift your thinking, even before you feel stressed. Your family will be your biggest supporters and cheerleaders. You can’t do this without them. Invest in them up fully and unconditionally—up front and always.
Your family should always come first.
5. Seek professional growth
I think some of the stress pastor’s experience just comes from being in over their heads professionally. In a way, this is a good thing. When God calls us to do something too big for us, and we respond, being “in over our heads” is a feeling we can expect.
At the same time, don’t allow this to prevent you from seeking professional growth. Always be looking for ways you can become better at what you do. The more teachable you are, the more proficient you become.
The more proficient you become, the less stress you will feel.