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Ministry Stress...How to Handle It



I will never forget when I had my first major panic attack. I was serving as the children's pastor at a fast-growing church in Las Vegas. The church was growing so rapidly that I was just trying to keep my head above water.

On top of that, I was writing a book and traveling to speak at conferences on Saturdays. I was stressed out to the max.

In the midst of all of this, I woke up one night with severe chest pains. I thought I was having a heart attack. I ended up going to the hospital where they ran every imaginable test on me. Everything came back okay physically. However, I continued to have severe chest pains and extreme anxiety.

Finally, I went to a doctor who was able to help me. He explained that I had amped up stress. After years of working with stress, my body was saying "that's enough...slow down."


The doctor gave me medication that helped me stay calm during stressful times. I also cut back on how many hours I was working and decreased my level of involvement in activities that were causing me to be stressed out. It has helped me manage my anxiety now for well over a decade.


Let me ask you. Are you stressed out? Here are some signs that you are :

  • Irritable, angry, impatient or wound up

  • Over-burdened or overwhelmed

  • Anxious, nervous or afraid

  • Like your thoughts are racing and you can't switch off

  • Unable to enjoy yourself

  • Depressed

  • Uninterested in life

  • Like you've lost your sense of humor

  • Having a hard time relaxing and quieting your mind

  • Feeling bad about yourself (low self-esteem)

  • Low energy

  • Headaches

  • Upset stomach

  • Aches, pains, and tense muscles

  • Rapid heartbeat

  • Chest pain

  • Constant worrying

  • Forgetfulness and disorganization

  • Inability to focus

  • Poor judgment

  • Procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities

  • More use of alcohol, smoking, etc.

Let me ask you...are you stressed out?

Is it affecting your work?

Are you having a hard time sleeping?

Do you feel overwhelmed with all you have going on?

Are you having panic attacks?

If that's you, don't worry. Help is available. You don't have to live that way.

Practice stress management. Identify the different causes of stress in your life. Highlight the most frequent stresses and the ones that are the most unpleasant. List ways in which you can change these situations for the better.

Find a pace that you can sustain. What is your current pace? A fast walk? Jogging? Running? All out sprint? Remember ministry is a marathon not a sprint. Find a pace that you can comfortably maintain for the distance.

Identify and get involved with things that will help you with stress relief. For me, it is working out. I work out five days a week and it has helped me tremendously with letting the stress go. It might be a hobby, exercise, reading, etc. Anything that will help you relax and take your mind off your work. Get medical help. Go to a doctor. Tell him or her how you are feeling and any symptoms you are experiencing. He or she can subscribe you medication to help you manage your panic attacks.

Take your day off and use your vacation time. One of the big mistakes I made was not taking my day off and not using my vacation time. It eventually caught up with me. Make sure you take your day off and use your vacation time.

Remember you can't save the world. Jesus is the only one who can save the world. Stop acting like you can do His job. Be faithful. Be obedient. Be wise. Consistently share the Gospel with people. But don't stress out. You are the sower...but only God can give the increase. Rest in Him and His promises.

If you are currently experiencing ministry panic attacks and need someone to encourage you and listen to you, feel free to contact me at dale@buildingchildrensministry.com.

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