Do you ever find yourself feeling worried and anxious – constantly thinking about the future or your current situation? Or maybe you have been in a room full of people and realized that you feel completely alone? These are not uncommon feelings among pastors and church leaders.
Statistics show that 70% of pastors and/or church leaders have a lower self-image of themselves now than when they first joined the ministry. Another 70% experience loneliness during their ministry. And 40% say they have considered leaving the ministry all together.
Life can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be this way. If you find yourself feeling like this, Dr. John Deloney suggests some practical and helpful tips on how to deal with anxiety and loneliness in leadership.
Tip 1 – Learning to Control Your Thoughts
Oftentimes we, as people, have intrusive thoughts that pop in and out of our mind. We don’t want them, but they just show up.
You can’t keep these worried, anxiety-filled thoughts completely out, but you can keep yourself from meditating on them. Whenever you have one of these moments where you are filled with anxiety, stop and pray. Think of five things you are thankful for.
This will be a new skill that your brain will have to learn. It may feel strange at first, but the longer you keep this up, the easier it becomes.
“Cast your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
Tip 2 – Take Care of Yourself
As pastors and church leaders, you are on the run constantly. You get home and you might want to sit down, watch TV, check Facebook, or maybe grab a snack. This feels relaxing for a time, but you aren’t truly taking care of your mind and body.
This sounds like an obvious statement, but when you treat your body right – you feel better. Studies show that healthier diets lower anxiety and make a difference in your mood and general sense of well-being. Exercising is also shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Just get outside, breath the fresh air, and take in the world God has created.
Tip 3 – Find Community
We are all built for community. We thrive when we have meaningful relationships in our life.
It is important to be able to find people that you can be vulnerable with. This will be a community where you can share life’s challenges, struggles, and victories with. Reading the Bible and praying together with your community will encourage and refresh your weary spirit.
Likely it will be beneficial to find your community outside of your church or denomination.
“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2
Tip 4 – Make Friendships a Priority
Dr. Deloney shares that often people have thousands of friends on social media sites, but rarely have friends they can call when they need them most.
I know this may sound like a difficult task and even a bit awkward, but purposely seek out friends. Friendships don’t happen by accident – you must be intentional. These will be friends that you can have over for a game night, go to each other’s children’s baseball games or recitals, or even ask for help when moving a couch or changing a tire.
As a pastor or church leader, you often feel as if you have the weight of the world on your shoulders. We all have our own hurts and mistakes. We are all people. But be encouraged! You are not alone.
If you want to learn more on overcoming anxiety and loneliness in leadership, our friends at Ramsey+ has arranged for a free webinar with Dr. John Deloney that will serve pastors and church leaders facing anxiety and leadership pressures during the season.
And great news, this webinar series is completely free for you.
Sign-up and claim your seat for the event each Friday, February 12, 19 and 26 here:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10