Thoughts on Stress in Ministry by Scott Wilson

One of the pastors at my church recently stepped down from his position. His leaving is a huge loss for our church because he’s a gifted leader and a respected friend. But God has called him to serve elsewhere. So recently we celebrated he and his wife’s ministry at our church in grand fashion, and then prayed over them for God’s greatest blessings. It was a bittersweet experience.

Anytime there is leadership change at an organization there is stress. It doesn’t matter if it’s a happy parting, or not. When someone leaves, others have to pick up the work that is left accounted for. I’ve been thinking about this happening at my own church. Who will step in and fill the hole our pastor left? Who will assume his responsibilities? Will the church suffer because of his absence? What’s God’s plan?

I know for many church staff members there exists a huge temptation to just take on more work and more work because they are “sacrificing for ministry.” But isn’t that how burnout happens? In our haste to ensure that changes at our ministry don’t cause the ministry to falter, could we set ourselves up for burning out to easily?

In Steering through Chaos pastor Scott Wilson has some wise words about stress in church leadership:

If we are in the midst of transition and chaos, everyone feels additional pressure, and either they look to us to relieve it or they blame us for it. In that environment, we simply must learn to handle stress before it takes us to the breaking point. There’s no shame in living a balanced life, in carving out time to think, laugh, and enjoy the ones we love – and even to play golf once in a while. Instead of feeling proud of carrying a huge burden of stress, we need to see that attitude as pathological.

[Read a sample PDF.]

Pathological. That’s not a light word. According to Webster it means “being such to a degree that is extreme, excessive, or markedly abnormal.”

“Markedly abnormal.” Have you found yourself going there in the midst of changes at your ministry? May we all heed Wilson’s words and, especially during times of change in ministry, “carve out time” to relieve ourselves of stress.


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