BEING DRAWN INTO ANXIETY
A challenge for any pastor in this anxious age is to not absorb the anxiety of the congregation. Anxiety can easily become contagious and what an anxious church does not need is an anxious pastor. Anxious pastors become their own worst judge. They keep searching for the latest sure-fire plan to grow a congregation, have a successful building campaign, redesign the worship service that will draw the crowds, etc. When the plans don’t work, they judge themselves. That can easily lead to depression or health problems.
A NEW FORM OF SABBATH
According to Genesis, after six days of labor at creating the world, God took a sabbath to step back and view what he had done and where God was going from there. In practical terms, the Sabbath provides an opportunity to breathe, evaluate, and envision.
This is the Sabbath that a pastor should engage in on a regular basis. At least every two weeks, a pastor should mark off a couple of hours for Sabbath time. Go to a park, a coffee shop, a library, or even a parlor in a friends church.
First take some time in prayer breathing in the Spirit of God and reminding yourself that you have been called by God.
Second, allow the last several months to float through your mind like a movie. Make note of both the satisfying and the stressing moments in your life. Then, ask yourself what God moments were a part of both the positive and negative moments that you are viewing.
Third, building on your belief that God is calling you to ministry, begin asking yourself what possibilities might lie ahead in the next several months. How might God be leading you to respond to the congregation in a way that might ease their anxiety.
Don’t try to be too specific in those thoughts. Just let them flow through your mind.
Close with some time in prayer where you offer up your thoughts to God and ask that God might be with you as you continue in your ministry. Mark in your calendar the next time you are going to take a Sabbath breather. Don’t neglect this step because it can easily slip away if you are not intentional about taking a regular Sabbath break.
ADDRESSING A CONGREGATION’S ANXIETY
A second practice to address the anxiety of your congregation has to do with the power of liturgy. That is in the next blog.