Dealing Effectively with Stress.
problems in the ministry. However, this subcourse will focus on only one.
The one that will be discussed is a common one among clergy and is one that
can "sneak up" on you and cause you further difficulties if you are not
This problem is STRESS.
careful to take care of yourself.
Stress is an
often overused word.
Hans Seyle has defined stress as "the response the body makes to any demand
on it." He distinguishes between EUSTRESS (good stress: joy, fulfillment,
satisfaction) and DISTRESS (damaging stress).
The question is not how to
rid our life of stress; rather, how do you keep it at a manageable level?
A survey conducted by Seward Hiltner reports that clergy deal with stress
better than any other professional group. Yet many clergy feel that many of
the sacrifices they must make for their calling are unnecessary and that the
demands made upon their families have little to do with furthering God's
Kingdom. This "double bind" alone can lead to stress.
Outlined below are some of the areas that are known to create stress among
Often you may be placed on a pedestal or treated as
different and other than human because of your calling.
Conflicts created by expectations.
You may be expected to do more
than is "humanly" possible. This may also be applied to spouses for
those who are married, but in different ways:
attendance and involvement).
Feelings of inadequacy. Often you are called on to minister to some
of the hardest situations imaginable, e.g. death and dying and may
never see the long-term positive results of your ministry.
Intellectual and spiritual uneasiness. Pastors are subject to so many
demands from others that they begin to feel in need of a pastor
themselves! This is often expressed as a gradual sense of losing the
reality of faith.
The feeling of having too many commitments that vie
for time and energy.
Lack of accomplishment. How does one measure the impact of preaching?
The effect of a call to a midnight crisis in the home of a
parishioner? The results of a summer program in influencing a child's
life? It is difficult to measure intangible benefits. This may lead
to a sense of frustration in the mind of the pastor or chaplain since
it is difficult to point to a concrete achievement as other