When I write, I try to write about things that are going on in my ministry. If you want to know what kind of week I had, all you need to do is read my blog posts. I write this way because in all honesty, writing helps me process. If it helps you too, awesome! I really do hope it’s helpful and practical. In an effort to be transparent with what happens in ministry, I will tell you there are times when anxiety comes on strong – where it literally feels like I am carrying the ministry on my back. I’m human. I try to give things to Jesus, but I fail sometimes.
You know what I’m talking about (and if you don’t, count your blessings). It’s the heaviness that comes on randomly at times. For me, I seem to feel it right in my chest. I can feel it coming and sometimes it’s paralyzing. I don’t know what brings it on, but I’m guessing it’s different for everyone.
If I am being honest, for me personally this heaviness comes from doubting my own ability to pull off the things we plan. Do I trust in God to move? Of course I do. And He always does. But I think it stems from my lack of ability to believe in myself. It’s a lack of confidence in my ability as a leader to communicate clearly, lead effectively and really lead the ministry that I have. At times, it’s overwhelming. At times I think, “Am I cut out for this?”
Is this just me? I doubt it.
So when this heaviness comes, what do we do?
Stop, pray, identify. When “that feeling” (whatever “that feeling” is for you) comes on, I just stop what I’m doing. I take a moment and pray to God. I am reading Emotionally Healthy Leadership, and it says to identify the source of this feeling, to identify where it is on your body, and to identify the feelings you are feeling. Surprise: it works. Shocker. Knowing where it is coming from, where it is in your body and giving it to God at that moment is an amazing feeling.
Make a list. I don’t know if it’s just my thing, but making a list of what I need to do helps so much. The app Asana is my saving grace when it comes to feeling overwhelmed. I can write down all the things I need to do and the best feeling in the world is seeing everything and then being able to check them off when they’re done. It even makes a little sound when you do, and it is so satisfying.
I read Matthew 6:25-34. I almost have this part of the Bible memorized now, because I seem to read it a lot. Jesus warns us against being anxious about the various cares of this life. Using examples from God’s creation, Jesus teaches that our Heavenly Father knows our needs and cares about them. He says God knows what we need before we even know what we need. How comforting is that? Rather than worry over things we cannot control, we should “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things [the necessities of life] will be added to you.” (verse 33) Putting God first is a cure for anxiety.
We may not be able to prevent anxious thoughts from entering our minds, but we can practice the right responses.
I really don’t think I am alone in this. If you are a leader of any sort, you will get “that feeling,” whatever that is, and you will need to learn how to deal with it. I hope this is of some help when that feeling does come.