Stress Management Series
“Managing Stress and Preventing Burnout” (SL#94)
by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., adapted from SkillTrack® Vol. 11 - Stress Management

Five steps toward stress management: Now, let us begin to focus more on positive steps that may be taken to get on top of stress in life and ministry. Hopefully, if you weren’t convinced already, the previous articles have underscored that unmanaged stress over a prolonged period of time is damaging to your own health, and the health of your relationships. It also makes your work terribly inefficient and ineffective.

We like to think that great sacrifice is needed to achieve great things, but piling on burden after burden does not translate into piles of accomplishment and contribution. What it does is make you unhappy and unproductive (in work, in ministry, in family . . .). So why do it that way? Patterns of mismanaged stress can become habit and routine. But these habits can and must be broken! In the next article, SL#95, we will deal with steps for managing stress particular to the ministry. Following are five steps for anyone to follow in managing stress:

Step One: Know and Love Yourself

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) That’s right, love yourself! Already in this course you have taken some of the important steps to know and understand your tendencies and stress points. Sometimes, being aware of and on the lookout for your own symptoms of stress response and the situations that cause it make up half of the battle of stress management!

Step Two: Take Care of Your Body

As we said at the beginning of this course, stress is as much a physical response to conditions as it is a mental/emotional one. Regular exercise will keep your body prepared to handle negative stress when it happens. It also helps you work off the effects of ongoing stressors. Some standard-care activities are really very simple! Such as:

Step Three: Be a Person, Not a Function

Galatians 6:2--“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Philippians 2:4--“Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Reflection: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The second great commandment of our Lord (Matt. 22:39) does center on others, but it also commands a healthy love for yourself. Will intentional obedience to that command help you as you cope with stress?

Step Four: Let God Help and Guide You

Coping with our stress is not the primary reason for our relationship to God. Salvation is not essentially utilitarian--what we can get from God. Rather, we are redeemed to enjoy God and serve Him forever. Neither is our family bond to Him only to avoid hell and attain heaven. But for those inside the faith relation to a loving Father, there is help for every part of the earthly journey, including coping with stress, such as:

Step Five: Don’t Be Afraid of Stress

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© 2009; hosted and copyrighted by Lloyd Elder & Associates, Inc.
For full citation of referenced works, see Bibliography/Links at
Adapted by Lloyd Elder, Th.D., Founding Director, Moench Center for Church Leadership