Ministerial Stress

Jonathan Gledhill, the Bishop of Lichfield, has addressed his Diocesan Synod, having noted that nine of his clergy resigned on health grounds between 1999 and 2005. He plans to bring in health checks. One of his clergy said these checks should include not only physical but mental health, since anxiety and stress were major issues today.

I found it interesting to read this today, when I have been to see my GP this morning. It was a follow-up appointment, having seen him last month in the wake of … a health check, which this Methodist District pays for every two years. Although my recent urology appointment cleared me of anything sinister in that region, there remained the questions of my raised blood pressure and cholesterol.

The bad news was that the hospital had failed to report my cholesterol score in the blood test report, so I’ll have to waste another morning returning to have the test again. (Not that my GP is too worried, though.)

My blood pressure is a bit higher than he would like it: not so much as to need tablets, thankfully. He said that two things were needed to reduce it: one was that my new régime of regular exercise will help bring it down, the other was the stress of my work. ‘Get rid of the stress,’ he said. ‘More like deal with the stress,’ I replied. I could of course get rid of the stress but that would involve the nuking in Christian love of certain select individuals, and the consequences might hamper my ability to minister and be an active father and husband.

One in particular took special trouble to be rude, hostile and pejorative yesterday at an annual General Church Meeting. Fortunately many in the church know what this person is like. I don’t know how this person squares their behaviour with Christ, but I must quickly add a cliché about how we all fall short.

As to dealing with the stress, from the spiritual side some of that will come from the persistent discipline of forgiveness and from allowing my belief that I am made in the image of God and redeemed at immense cost reminding me how loved and treasured I am by God that I can have confidence in him. Moving that from head to a body that seems to go into a reflex stress reaction is something I haven’t solved yet.

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3 comments

  1. My new doctor here is a blood-pressure nazi. After worrying the heck out of me for 9 months, the doctor finally told me that, ten years ago, my blood pressure would have been considered normal for someone my age! I wonder if they didn’t consider the stress of worrying me so much about it and making such a big deal out of it without explaining things to me?

    Anyway, I’m saying a prayer for your stress and I regret that you have this “character” to deal with.

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  2. adding my prayers to Pam’s- worrying about stress levels only increases them… hope the exercise etc helps…one day some-one will tackle all these difficult people- until the we pray for one another…

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