Bad Stress and Good Stress
There is bad stress, but there is such a thing as good stress too. I think bad stress is prominent among pastors for many reasons. But one of the main ones is the stress of having to live up to other people's expectations of you. I immediately recognize the toxicity of this kind of stress the moment it starts. I remember the incredible pressure I used to feel when I was younger in the ministry from the people... the pressure to be or do something that they imagined I should be or do because that's what ministers are and do! I recall the resentment that would build and build until I would actually break down in one way or another. The stress of having to live up to these kind of expectations is bad. The other day, at a small group I attended, someone expressed concern for me because there is a lot of stuff going on in our community right now: illnesses, the threat of death, marriages in serious trouble, depression... the kind of things that take time to deal with. Hours of work go into issues such as these. I responded that at the end of the day after being engaged in these things, I feel tired, but it is a good kind of tired. It is the weariness of a hard day's work. It is the fellowship of suffering that naturally comes with being human. I realize that one can simply put too many hours in for the body to handle, or to more emotionally involved in others' lives than is healthy. But it is good to lay my head on my pillow knowing that I myself was authentically involved in the lives of my people as myself. I have to tell you, that kind of tiredness brings a good night's sleep. I prefer that to lying my head on my pillow feeling that all day I was running around trying to please people and being somebody other than myself to make them comfortable. I'm blessed, I know that, with a community from whom I feel no pressure of expectations that are damaging to me. I don't think they are being overly protective either. I really think that it has taken years and years of work to get to this point, but that kind of work, though stressful, was a good work, a good stress, with a good result. There is a difference. The fine art photograph is the creation of my friend Mark Hemmings.