Do pastors experience fear and anxiety?

Okay. It’s time for some gut wrenching transparency. I’m afraid and I’ve spent the greater part of my adult life living with fear and anxiety. Does that surprise you… especially when you realize that I’m a pastor of a great church. Where’s the faith baby? Why don’t you apply what you teach? Don’t you believe God can take away your fears? Aren’t there bible verses, in fact whole chapters that speak to the area of fear? How about this one… there are 365 occurrences in the bible that say “fear not,” so that’s one a day for the year.

What’s the matter with you? If I really believed, then this would not be a problem in life. Now people are polite and won’t directly say that, but I’ve seen the looks. And I’ve experienced the less than feeling from well meaning people.

Well, I love God and I’m sold out to Him and His purposes. Sorry to disappoint you, but I still get afraid and I still get anxious. To be sure, we are all uniquely made. My struggles may not be your struggles. I have found that each of us have a unique thumbprint that singles us out, not merely for identification purposes, but characterizes our unique personality and bent toward life.

When I was in grad. school, I became convinced that I was going to die. No big revelation here because everyone dies. I just happened to think I was going to die right away probably suffering through the process. I developed a series of apparent illnesses. I say apparent because there wasn’t any physiological reason for any of that. The symptoms however were very real. I had a high fever… that was real. I developed a full body rash… that was real. My glands were swollen. My headache was crippling. My eventual revelation that “it was all in my mind” allowed me to cope and live symptom free after that episode. But I learned something. I could talk myself into just about anything. Even crazy physical symptoms. And it wasn’t as easy or sometimes even possible to talk yourself back into health. You know this already and you know that’s me and not you.

I’m still in my journey but here are a few things that can sustain you, as they have me, through the ride. The truth. Pretty basic huh? The truth that I’m referring to first of all is the life altering truth that God has my back… that God created me for a purpose and that my emotions are part of that purpose. That may not make everything better, but it does set the context of living with the why.

Knowing that God loves me and that his concern for me is real has a sustaining affect.

That being said, take the very advice you would give a friend… if your marriage is in trouble, get help. If your parenting needs improving, get help. For me I got a physical exam to see if there were physical issues. I poured into a trusted friend who helped speak into my life. I’ve drilled deeper into my relationship with God and starting meeting with professionals who could help.

OK. Enough about me. How about you? Conservative surveys of the U.S. population say that roughly a quarter of adults struggle with depression. Another large percentage with anxiety and fear. That may include you. If you want to be the best you can be for your family and yourself…consider my journey.


Categories: Extending Empathy / Modeling Authenticity / Showing Compassion

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