Help with Stressors
Posted on July 1, 2021 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Dave Frasure, Convener and pastor, FBC So. Lebanon, asked me to speak to Region 4’s pastors monthly meeting. He asked me to help pastors to cope with stress. Maybe it was rather counter-intuitive, but I made a list of 27 things that I have heard pastors say they found stressful over the past year. Cicadas weren’t on the list, by the way. I read every one of them to the guys in the room. At first, there were a couple of men saying, “Yep.” Then the pastors started remembering what they had experienced as the list continued. One pastor put his face to the ceiling and jammed the palms of his hands into his eye sockets. Another gripped his hands so tightly his knuckles turned white. More than one blurted out, “Oh wow, that’s so true. In our church….” And then a memory would come tumbling out.
They relived 2020 as if it were a movie before their eyes. I won’t say which kind of movie.
Each pastor was encouraged to keep their health up – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Exercise, read, meet with other pastors. One pastor mentioned how mental illness problems were at an all-time high. Stats were later shared in which nearly all teens had considered suicide in 2020. Nearly all.
If pastors stayed healthy, then they could minister more effectively to their families and church families in crisis and those wandering away from a changed church experience.
However, the best coping advice came from Peter’s experience in which Jesus beckoned him to get out of the boat and, in faith, walk on the water to join Him. Peter did, but when he allowed himself to be distracted by the wind and the waves, he sank. Keeping our eyes on Jesus is the key during life’s storms. Part of keeping focused on Jesus is continually casting a vision of a lost Cincinnati Area to our church members and to ourselves. We see the bigger picture, so the momentary stressors take a secondary role.
The pastors admitted that they had often been isolated during the past year. CABA’s regional meetings are becoming retreats for an hour or two with colleagues going through the same stuff. Biblical counselors are still available at no cost to the pastors. None of the counselors have become booked-up. There’s help available for the asking.
Who knows? Maybe the 28th stressor is right around the corner.
-- Mark Snowden serves as director of the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.