Ministry is stressful, there’s no way around that. The ongoing weekly pressure of sermon and worship preparation. The pastoral challenge of helping a family with a tragic death. Changing giving patterns that make supporting the budget more difficult. You know the stresses better than I do.
Ministry can be less stressful
But it can be less stressful. As you face the flood of e-mails, texts, people who catch you in the office or after church, simply take the time to ask this question:
Is this my responsibility?
You may decide, yes, it is. But some of the time, the answer will be, no, it isn’t. You might start with the e-mails where you have simply been copied – that’s an instant triangle. Just because you were copied on it doesn’t mean you have to respond. Let people work things out themselves.
If you want to take it another step, ask this:
Will this help me with my ministry goals?
Even if the answer is no, you might respond anyway. Sometimes you just have to dive in and set up tables because it needs to be done. Yet the question is another tool to slow you down and reflect on the best use of your time and energy.
A third question to ask is:
Do I want to do this?
Again, sometimes you answer no and do it anyway. Every job includes tasks you don’t want to do. A hospital visit to your biggest critic may not be at the top of your want-to list (but it might help you with your ministry goals). Yet sometimes it’s all right to say no just because you don’t want to. Or you want to spend the evening with your family more. It’s not selfish just because you want to do it.
Slow it down
Increasingly our world anticipates an instant response. I don’t think that leads to the best or most productive decisions and actions. Take the time to stop and ask yourself at least one of these questions, and you’ll make better choices – and overall experience a little less ministry stress.
And here’s another post on managing stress in ministry and taking better care of ourselves.