It’s no secret that ministry is full of stress. Many of you are at the end of your rope. Maybe you’re even ready to resign because of the stress.
This stress not only impacts our churches, but it also adversely affects our own health. Proverbs 14:30 tells us: “Peace of mind means a healthy body, but jealousy will rot your bones” (NCV). Too much stress isn’t healthy.
The good news is God doesn’t leave us empty-handed as we struggle with stress. The Bible has a lot to say about peace. Whether it’s spiritual peace (peace with God), emotional peace (peace of God), or relational peace (peace with other people), God’s Word provides a pattern of life that leads to the peace we’re all looking for.
Jesus once said, “I leave you peace; my peace I give you. I do not give it to you as the world does. So don’t let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27 NCV).
The peace of God isn’t something you earn. It’s not something you need to psych yourself up to get. It’s not something God gives you for being a pastor.
The peace of God is a gift. It’s totally different from the kind of peace that you get from the world. The world’s peace is fragile and temporary. But God’s peace is constant and eternal. It isn’t based on the newest fad. It has nothing to do with your circumstances.
Only God can give you the kind of peace you truly need.
So how do you experience the kind of peace only God can give?
1. Obey God’s principles. “Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble” (Psalm 119:165 NLT). God’s peace comes when you live in harmony with him. The Bible is our owner’s manual. If you want your car to run smoothly, you need to read and do what the manual says. Same is true for our lives. The Bible contains principles for relationships, finance, parenting, and all the other areas of life. You will not find peace if you don’t obey these principles.
2. Accept God’s pardon. “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy” (Micah 7:18 NIV). Guilt is the number one destroyer of peace. Too many church leaders are fearful that someone will find the skeleton in their closet. They’re haunted by guilt. Micah reminds us that the Lord delights in showing mercy. He is ready to forgive you of anything and everything you’ve done against his ways. You can’t buy that kind of clear conscience. It’s available to you and is absolutely free.
3. Focus on God’s presence. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NIV). God is always with you. And so, to live in peace, recognize his presence and focus on it. Peace is a mindset.
Psalm 46:10 gives us two important principles about how to find peace.
—“Be still.” Sometimes all we need is a mini-vacation for just one minute. We need to take some time out and just be still. Hurry is the death of prayer.
—“Know that I am God.” Even when your world is falling apart, God is still on his throne. God will be the quiet center of your life even in the middle of chaos.
4. Trust God’s purpose. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6 MEV). Take a moment to notice the four verbs—trust, lean not, acknowledge, and direct. The first three are commands, and the fourth is a promise.
— Trust: When you’ve hit the end of your rope with ministry stress, you usually can’t control much. But you can trust God.
— Lean not: You can’t try to figure it out on your own. Peace comes when you realize not all your questions will be answered in this life.
— Acknowledge: God doesn’t make any mistakes. He is in control. You’ll find peace when you acknowledge this.
Once you trust, lean not, and acknowledge, God will direct your ways. God brings peace as we align with his purpose for our lives.
I don’t know what stress you’re facing right now. Maybe it’s in your marriage. Maybe it’s in your church. I do know that God wants to give you his peace. He hasn’t forgotten you. He hasn’t abandoned you.
God is ready to give you a greater peace than you can even imagine right now.