One Big Reason Reason Pastors Are Stuck.
According to some recent statistics 8 out of 10 Americans are inflicted with stress. That is 8 out 10 Americans are in a constant or near contestant state of stress. A little stress is normal. In fact God has wired our bodies to feel stress.
Stress is your bodies natural reaction to a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances. We should not feel bad for feeling stressed. At the same time we should be aware of the impact of being afflicted with stress.
Emotional symptoms of stress include:
Becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody
Feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control Having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind
Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem), lonely, worthless, and depressed Avoiding others
There are also physical symptoms of stress…
Physical symptoms of stress include:
Upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea Aches, pains, and tense muscles
Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
Frequent colds and infections
Loss of sexual desire and/or ability
Nervousness and shaking, ringing in the ear, cold or sweaty hands and feet Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
Clenched jaw and grinding teeth
77% of pastors say they have experienced burnout. 90% feel they are inadequately trained to cope with the ministry demands and 90% of pastors said the ministry was completely different than what they thought it would be like before they entered the ministry.
Being a pastor is one of the most challenging jobs in the world. If you feel overwhelmed please know you are not alone.
It’s easy to pass blame and say seminaries are not preparing us adequately for ministry. It’s easy to say church people are unreasonable and demanding. It’s easy to say it’s someone else’s fault. All of those things may true, but that shouldn’t stop us from looking inward to discover is there is something we can work on.
One BIG Reason Pastors Are Stuck
Here it is. Pastors stereotypically do not like to ask for help. It’s certainly not the only reason pastors are stuck, but it’s a BIG one. Part of the American DNA is to be a self made man or woman. We typically think that those who ask for help are weak. So even though the vast majority of pastors are stressed they, at the exact same time, do not want to ask for help.
Pastors in America often feel like they have to do it all. It’s not just pastors, church members can put that same pressure them. It is difficult to ask for help, but there are two main reasons we struggle with this.
2 Reasons We Struggle To Ask For Help
There is a fear in a lot of us that if we let someone else do something they will do it better and therefore we become expendable. The opposite is actually true. When we let go of what we are not good at it allows us to work on our strengths. God intentionally left some things out of every human in order that we can work together (see 1 Corinthians 12:27-31). Pride tells us that we are more important than we really are. If you want to become expendable hold onto everything. If you want to become irreplaceable help others use their gifts to honor God.
The second reason many don’t ask for help is because of control. Our stress levels actually play into this. When we are stressed and feel out of control we often look to try to control everything. As Craig Groeschel elegantly says, “You can have growth or control, but you can’t have both.” Giving up some control means things may get done differently than you, but at the end of the day if the final product is done well it shouldn’t matter how it’s done.
To give up control you need some agreed upon standards or core values. For example one of the core values at the church I lead is, “We go the second mile.” This past Mother’s Day our kids team wrote hand written notes to every mom who checked in a kid. I didn’t have a fat clue that happened until my wife showed me on Monday morning. That fits perfectly with going the second mile! I don’t have to know about every detail of the church when I trust that others are leading based off our agreed upon values.
Pride and control are things almost all pastors can relate to. If you are stuck, take a deep breath, ask God for insight, and then think about what you need help with. There is someone out there who God has wired to do. When we fail to ask for help we become part of the problem. There is only so much we can do and therefore our ministry can only reach a limited amount of people. Asking for help is a sign of strength not weakness.