Stress kills many marriages, ministries, and the men who lead them; and it was on its way to killing me. And if you don’t kill it, it will eventually kill you. WebMD says that 75-90 percent of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. Deadly stress is an all-too-real reality for the typical church planter.
Kill your stress before it kills you. Here are four ways:
1. Live your Bible.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:33-34).
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Psalm 115:3).
We believe these Scriptures. We teach these Scriptures. But do we live these Scriptures? The reality is that most of us don’t.
In seasons of stress, meditate specifically on passages that remind you of the truth and not your perceived reality. Look for the sins behind the sin for why you can’t relax—sins like control, unbelief, or your worth rooted in your identity as a church planter. As you see the discrepancy between what you believe and how you live, confess, repent and pray for God’s help.
Make it your goal to live the goodness of the gospel and not just believe it.
2. Listen to your body.
You know that burning in your chest at the top of your stomach? That’s not supposed to be there! That, and other symptoms, are the “God-installed” ways your body has of telling you to slow down and trust him. Listen to your body’s signs, and let them be a reminder to trust him with your life, family, and church. You don’t want somebody else raising your kids. If your body is telling you to slow down, do it.
3. Listen to your wife and kids.
If you are married, your spouse is likely your best ally in your ongoing battle with stress. Chances are, she and the kids (if you have them), are going to be who God uses to make you laugh, go to bed, and take a day off. Don’t ignore them! If she thinks you are stressed, you probably are, even if you don’t. If your kids make comments about why daddy is so tired or mad, listen to them and make changes.
4. Learn your limits.
Pastor Wayne Cordeiro has a great principle called, “The Plate.” Every leader has a certain-sized plate based on their skills, gifts, life season, health, etc. Not all our plates are the same size, and that is the way God designed it. Trust that God made you who you are to do what you can do and leave it at that. Realize that a lot of your stress comes from the fact that you have a salad plate stacked with a buffet plate’s amount of food. Repent. Resize. Repeat.