Your ministry is both a privilege and a challenge. You have the opportunity to walk with people through the most important moments of their lives. God uses you to help repair broken marriages, overcome addictions, and help people discover the love of Jesus.
But your calling can also be a burden. You face more stress than most people realize.
- You deal with uncontrollable circumstances. Maybe it’s as simple as a meeting that goes off the rails. Or maybe it’s something more serious—like leadership conflicts that seem to stall everything you try to do.
- You must minister to uncooperative people. Difficult people in your church may make it tough for you to do what God is calling you to do through your ministry.
- You serve people who experience unexplainable pain. They look to you for answers, but you don’t have the words they’re looking for. All you can do is walk with them as they ask God these painful questions.
The weight of responsibility on your shoulders can be overwhelming. So, what do you do about it? You surrender your ministry to God as you make these four stress-busting choices.
1. Let go of control. This isn’t easy for those of us in leadership. We want control of our lives and our ministries. But the more we try to get control, the more out of control our ministry will get.
The most important reason you’re stressed is because you are in conflict with God. You’re trying to control things that only God can do. You’re a pastor—you’re not God.
Surrendering to Jesus means giving up control—something even leaders need to learn to do. “Let go of your concerns! Then you will know that I am God. I rule the nations. I rule the earth” (Luke 46:10 GW).
We can’t control everything. That’s God’s job—not ours. The moment we recognize that—and surrender to what God wants to do through our ministries—is the moment we begin to find peace.
2. Be content. Too often, we’re convinced our role as a leader is to make changes. But no matter how strong of a leader we are, we can’t change everything.
When that happens, we can worry or get bitter. We get frustrated that we can’t make the changes we want. But worry or bitterness won’t lead to peace in your ministry. They only make the situation worse.
Instead, we need to follow what Paul teaches in Philippians 4:11-13: “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (NIV). Paul didn’t write those words when he was sleeping in luxury. Instead, he wrote those words as he was chained to a Roman soldier in a damp, dark prison cell.
Paul couldn’t change his situation, so he became content with it.
3. Lay down your plans. As pastors, we are often visionaries at heart. We have big plans for what God will do through our ministries. We have five-year plans and 10-year plans.
When these plans get off track or we face resistance from the congregation, we experience stress. The difference between what we plan and what actually happens frustrates us.
Pursuing your plans will lead to stress, but following God’s plans will lead to peace. It’s not that you’ll never face opposition if you follow God’s plans because you certainly will.
But Jesus tells us to, “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need” (Matthew 6:33 NLT).
Pastor, that’s a bold statement, but it’s also one you can trust.
4. Leave the future to God. The future can cause us so much stress. We worry about what will happen in our families, our congregations, our communities, and so on. Surrendering to Jesus means leaving that future stress with God.
Doing that changes your perspective about the future as you acknowledge God is sovereign over it. The Bible tells us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know” (Proverbs 3:5 GNT).
Trusting in the Lord for your future isn’t about giving up or admitting defeat. It’s about acknowledging that God is in control and his ways are better than ours.
Take the future one day at a time. Instead of being consumed with worries about tomorrow, focus on the present, as Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:34: “Don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have its own worries. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (NCV).
We can rest in the truth that God will use us and our ministries even if we can’t see it right now.
You’ll never have a day in your ministry that you don’t need to make these four choices. Surrender isn’t a one-time act; it’s a lifetime of choosing God’s ways over your own.
Surrender is the ultimate act of faith. It’s about holding up the white flag and saying, “God, the war’s off. I will not fight you anymore. I want peace, not stress.”
What area (or areas) of your life and ministry do you need to do that in?