Pastor Resources for Stress: 3 Ways to Overcome Worry
Written By: Glenn C. Stewart
Early in my pastoral experience, the needs of people in the congregation were many and I would lay awake at night wondering how I could help, anxious about what would happen, thinking about the meeting that had just occurred, and the list goes on. I met with a man I greatly respected who was seasoned in ministry and he asked how I was doing. I proceeded to tell him that I was having trouble sleeping and wondered if he ever felt the same. He said “Glenn, I used to have trouble until one night I realized that God is awake, He never slumbers or sleeps, so there is no sense in both of us being awake and I rolled over and went to sleep.” I will never forget those words. What a great piece of advice.
If only we could implement that advice on a regular basis and not worry. We know cognitively that we are not to worry and we believe Scripture 100% when it tells us, “Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own,” (Matthew 6:34). Yet somehow we lay awake at night, or experience higher levels of stress or anxiety during the day. So what do we do about it? Below are three ways that we can overcome worry.
3 Ways to Overcome Worry:
- Put God first in every area of life –
Worry is always an indication of mixed up values. Whenever we start worrying, it’s a warning light. It’s indicating that our priorities are out of order. We are putting more value and having more concern for something that is temporary rather than what is eternal. We need to put God first in every area of life. That means desiring and pursuing His rule in our lives: on work, family, friends, money, pleasure, leisure, aging, and whatever else it is we worry about. We need to desire more than anything else to be the people God wants us to be and make the difference for His kingdom that He wants us to make.
- Live one day at a time –
Worry involves bringing the unknown tomorrow into today and expending mental and emotional energy on what hasn’t yet happened and might never happen. Every week there are two days we should never worry about: yesterday and tomorrow. Concentrate on today. What Jesus is saying is, “Don’t worry about the future until you’ve successfully learned to manage the present.”
Pastor Resources for Stress: 2 Reasons Not to Worry
- In worrying about tomorrow and tomorrow’s problems, we miss today’s blessings. We get so caught up in what’s going to happen tomorrow that we can’t enjoy today.
- We cannot solve tomorrow’s problems with today’s resources. God has made our lives that we’re to live on a day by day basis. That doesn’t mean don’t plan. We should plan for tomorrow, but we should live in today. Today’s resources are not sufficient for tomorrow’s problems. God gives us what we need when we need it. He doesn’t give us a monthly supply, and we risk running out of grace and strength before the problems stop coming.
- Trust God to care for the things beyond our control –
Is the problem with worry becoming clear? It indicates a lack of faith and insufficient trust. Worry and faith are opposites.
Trust means that we put things in God hand’s recognizing that He is the one in control, that His ways are infinitely wise, and that ours are often greatly lacking in wisdom. Remember, He loves us deeply and pursues what He knows is best for us now and forever.
How Can We Trust?
- Don’t panic, pray instead –
“Do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:6 –7, ESV).
Do you see the prescription? It is to never worry. How? Regarding everything – pray. Do it with petition – asking specific, strong requests. And offer thanksgiving – thanking God that He knows, is sufficient, and will give you whatever you need to face any situation. The result of praying instead of panicking is the peace of God. He grants a peace that is beyond our ability to comprehend.
- Learn and memorize the promises of God –
God has given us specific promises in Scripture. If we trust and bank on those promises, He will help us defeat the enemy of worry. Isaiah 26:3, Psalm 23:4, Philippians 4:13, and Philippians 4:19 are some insightful relative Scriptures to review frequently and share with others.
What are you worried about today? The economy? Your congregation? A personal problem? Your marriage? Health? A problem with friends? Jesus Christ has made it possible for you to live without worry. It’s a matter of coming to Him, putting your life in His hands, and trusting Him on a day by day and moment by moment basis. Through Him, you can live without worry.