I was recently asked by Jeff and Jonny over at 200churches.com (You need to visit their site and sign up for their newsletter.) to come up with a list of the top challenges pastors face. I guess
because I’ve now entered into my eighth year of coaching pastors they thought I might know something about this. What you’re reading is the fourth in this series.
Pastors are constantly facing the challenge dealing with their fears.
A while back I began to notice how often pastors make decisions or take action motivated by fear or anger…and sometimes both. I’m going to leave ‘anger’ for another time. I hope that doesn’t make you mad.
When I was pastoring there were many things that I feared. Some of them I was conscious of and others not.
I was afraid of losing people.
I was afraid of people not liking me.
I was afraid of loosing my job.
I was afraid of loosing my paycheck.
I was afraid of a bad offering.
I was afraid of the church failing.
I was afraid of making a significant mistake.
I was afraid of my marriage suffering because of the ministry.
I was afraid of my children suffering because of the ministry.
I was afraid of my soul suffering because of the ministry.
If any of these fears are yours, I don’t fault you. Most of our fears do have a base in reality. In my opinion the list above contain legitimate fears.
I know, I know…Jesus said, “Fear not” but we do.
Not only is fear an unpleasant burden to live under, fear affects how we lead, the decisions we make or don’t make. It’s hard to think clearly when you are fearful. It’s hard to hear from God when your ears are plugged up with fear.
So what’s a pastor to do? What steps might one take to loosing fear’s grip?
First of all, admit it to yourself and a trusted friend. Hear yourself say to yourself, “I’m afraid of…” Hear yourself tell someone else, “I’ve noticed that I’m afraid of…”
There is something freeing about admitting our weaknesses.
Next, bring the specific fears to Jesus in prayer.
I always fear (see, there it is) coming across condescending when I remind pastors of scriptures but here goes:
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:6,7)
I don’t want to be simplistic. The stronger the fear the harder it can be to dislodge it. But here’s the thing. Notice the connection Paul makes between prayer and peace? In our solitude with God we will find peace, courage, faith, wisdom, and healing for the things we are afraid of. Fear can be weakened. Fear can be overcome. It might take some time for prayer to ‘work’ but prayer works. Keep bringing your fears to Jesus.
The Father doesn’t want your soul or your ministry to be weighed down with fear. Take the steps necessary to move away from fear. You can do it!