Do you ever find ministry and Christian leadership stressful? If so, you’re not the only one. Even the Apostle Paul laid out a list of leadership stressors:
I have worked much harder [than other servants of Christ], been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. .. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:23-28 NIV)
Wow, what a list (and I didn’t even include everything)!
Your list probably doesn’t include floggings, shipwrecks and beatings. It may include criticism, conflict, resistance to change initiatives, unrealistic expectations, and overwork!
Those things are hardships, too. Don’t underestimate them. Fact is, they can be stressful and too much stress over time saps emotional energy and can literally make you physically ill.
Yet they also present a rich opportunity: to know yourself better and grow as a person if you are up to the challenge.
Now clearly, the first priority when we suffer criticism, conflict or complaint is to keep our eyes on Jesus! Paul’s list of troubles (including his famous “thorn in the flesh”) all lead him to this word from God:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
However, events that bring out strong emotional reactions in us provides an opportunity to understand ourselves better, see ourselves in a clearer light, and yes, when necessary, make the adjustments we need to become more healthy, happy and even Christ-like.
So, here’s my challenge to you. For the next month or so, every time you encounter a tough situation – anything that causes you to feel strong emotions – take a few minutes to reflect. In fact, journal about it. I predict that you will be surprised what you learn about yourself and how you actually begin to grow stronger.
It’s a great way to redeem those stressful experiences and mine them for golden growth opportunities.
I have linked here to my Journal for Personal Insight tool that will help you know what to journal. Blessings to you as you grow in your insight. Let me know what you learn!