Guest blogger Dr. Deb Douglas, Minister to Women, First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA is constantly on the search to de-stress life in ministry! Check out her great suggestions for helping us run the race effectively in women’s ministry.
Desserts and stressed are mixed up versions of the same letters. Me, I’d rather have dessert! Unfortunately, stress is as much a part of ministry as chocolate is a major part of dessert! Stress meets us at every term of ministry; carrying the burdens of others, balancing life with ministry, meeting the unending demands, are just a few.
How we deal with the stress impacts our longevity in ministry. Some people have an idea that because we are ministers, we are somehow spiritually above stress, as if experiencing stress was some type of sin. The pressure to be “spiritually” stress free compounds the unrealistic expectations.
So, what’s a girl to do? Choose dessert? Easy answer but has a serious tendency to pack on the pounds! Or we can take an alternative approach and tackle the stress by learning how to manage it:
· Seek out the source. Some sources are obvious, like an overcrowded overcommitted schedule; balancing ministry and family; and holidays. Other sources tend to lurk in the shadows of life. These are harder to detangle. To find these, look for the tiny triggers of stress. What happens right before the jaw muscles tighten and those feelings of panic start to rise? For me, it’s having a list of people to call. I’m petrified of making calls. Silly? Yes, but after some soul searching, I discovered this to be a source of ongoing stress. After realizing the source, it was easy to remove this chunk of stress out of my days.
· Deflate expectations. Developing realistic expectations for our personal behavior and the behavior of others lowers stress from unfilled expectations. Accepting personal imperfections and the imperfections of others is the first step towards being realistic.
· Categorize criticism. Working with people puts ministers at the center of the criticism bulls-eye. Criticism can be accepted, revamped, or trashed. Rehashing the criticism sidetracks us from the ministry God has called us to. Remember He called us in spite of the fact we are human and make mistakes.
· Delegate. God gifted and called everyone to serve. Delegating takes trust but reduces stress and ensures there will be future leaders.
· Time out! Take time away to relax, refresh, and restore! Cruise, go on a vacation, take a hike, take a long bath with the bathroom door locked. Go to time out before stress takes over life!
· Be Quiet! Take time to be still and listen to how God is providing ways to de-stress.
· Say NO! Set boundaries and stick to them. Women in ministry do not have to go to every purse, home décor, or candle party in the church. Attending every shower is impossible. Save money and time by declining invitations.
· Purge! Choose to live the simple life. Get rid of things that suck time and energy out of life.
· Get physical. Physical activity relieves stress and helps us react in a more positive way.
· Stop and pray. Spending time in meditation and prayer dilutes stress and keeps us focused on what is important: Loving God and loving others.
Stressed out or desserts, which will it be? How about having cake and eating it too by celebrating a new determination to live stress free!
Dr. Deb Douglas, is the Minister to Women, First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA and also serves as one of our LifeWay Ministry Multipliers. Deb launched her first women’s Bible study at the age of 20. Her passion is encouraging and equipping women to serve. She is the Minister to Women at FBC Bossier City and a conference/retreat speaker, strategic planning consultant, freelance writer and contributed to Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level. Deb graduated from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters of Arts in Christian Education/Women’s Ministry and a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. She is the wife of Paul, mom of Jared and Katie, mother-in-law to Emily and grandmother to Caroline.