It is an honor to have Miles Welch as our guest writer this week. He is a gifted speaker and known for his development of leaders. His Leading Under Pressure series is one of my favorites and has had a profound impact on my life. While originally written for those in vocational leadership, this series can help anyone dealing with the stress and pressure of everyday living. Miles offers wisdom and practical guidance for pressing through to resolution. Enjoy!
The ability to lead under sustained high pressure, for the long haul, without getting “taken out,” is key to succeeding in vocational ministry. This series of posts is aimed at young pastors and leaders, and will hopefully provide some insight into faithful leadership under pressure.
In this first post, I want to explore a few foundational thoughts about ministry pressure.
1. Pressure is an inescapable reality of pastoral ministry.
Pressure is an inescapable reality of pastoral ministry.
Here are some different sources and types of pastoral pressure:
- Vocation Pressure: The pressure of feeling called by God
- Vision Pressure: The pressure to create a better tomorrow
- People Pressure: The pressure of expectations
- Family Pressure: The pressure at home
- Pace Pressure: The pressure to maintain speed
- Financial Pressure: Self-Explanatory
- Time Pressure: The pressure of finite hours in the day
- Spiritual Warfare Pressure: The pressure of being targeted by the Enemy
- Complexity Pressure: The pressure to figure it all out
- Platform Pressure: The pressure of being on a stage
And this list is certainly not comprehensive. God help us!
Overwhelming pressure is nothing new in ministry. It is not unique to us in our context. It is not self-inflicted. It is not a byproduct of modern church philosophies. It is the norm; ministry pressure is as old as the church itself. Just look at these verses from 2 Corinthians (emphasis mine):
2 Corinthians 1:8-9 — We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.
2 Corinthians 2:15-16 — For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task?
2 Corinthians 4:7-9 — But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 7:5 — For when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within.
2. There are only two ways of resolving ministry pressure: Decrease responsibility or increase resilience.
There are only two ways of resolving ministry pressure: Decrease responsibility or increase resilience.
Ministry pressure is a product of the responsibilities that rest on your shoulders. Winston Churchill said, “The price tag to greatness is responsibility.” This is true. And the price tag to responsibility is pressure. The only way to decrease pressure is to decrease responsibility. While there are certainly situations or seasons that will require you to downsize your responsibility, that isn’t usually the best answer. When you decrease responsibility, you also decrease your impact. A healthy ministry path gains responsibility over time, so an increase in pressure actually signals kingdom growth. Pressure is not to be avoided. It is to be conquered.
How do you conquer ministry pressure? Increase resilience. Get stronger. Grow in your ability to live and lead under constant, overwhelming pressure. Resilience is the ability to handle large amounts of pressure without cracking. Here is a secret about resilience: Your flesh cries out before your strength gives out. You are stronger than you think you are. If you decide to press through, you will discover untapped wells of strength. To grow in resilience, you have to resist the urge to run from pressure.
The next posts in this series will follow with practical tools for helping increase your kingdom resilience.
Read Part 2 HERE
Miles has served the local church as a pastor and leader for 20 years, and has been at 12Stone Church (Lawrenceville, GA) since 2001. He previously grew a college ministry to a 500-student gathering, and started the Residency Program at 12Stone. As Pastor of Leadership Expansion, Miles develops leadership not only in his immediate church context, but also coaches pastors and church leaders across the country.
To read more writing by Miles Welch, visit his website here: http://mileswelch.com/