Pastor, Is Your View of
Stress, Well? (part 5)
power of stress must not be ignored. In his book Time Bomb in the Church:
Defusing Pastoral Burnout, medical doctor Daniel Spaite describes
the pastoral atmosphere as a “time bomb that ticks away with undetected
certainty” that is caused by “the over-worked, stressed-out lifestyle of the
modern pastor.”  He writes of the specific ailments that can
befall a pastor who has “spent with no back-up for recovery” and is overcome by
the “contemporary anomaly called burnout.”
Such indicators demand the attention of your own pastoral care.
The Impact of Stress upon Breathing
Known as a “panic attack,”
hyperventilation occurs when a person breathes so rapidly, they exhale too much
carbon dioxide. Sensing an inability to
breathe, panic is heightened, intensifying the attack. Symptoms can include the obvious shortness of
breath, along with irregular heartbeat, light-headedness, chest pain, numbness,
or tingling in the hands and feet. These
symptoms may be treated with sedatives, bringing immediate relief, but leaving
the inevitable cause—stress.
The Impact of Stress upon Longevity
Stressors are rarely perceived for
their true nature; generally, they are seen as hardships, which are thought to
naturally lead to exhaustion. Adaptation
becomes the norm of response, yet if the stressors are not removed, the
individual will resign or move to another place of service. Physical and emotional collapse will lead to
giving up or “burning out.” Rightly
understood, burnout “is not a failure of faith or character, courage or
stamina. It is the body’s protective
mechanism pushed to its extreme. The
gears grind to a halt. Everything inside
a person shouts, ‘Enough!’ Finally, the
message registers, almost too late.” 
Appropriate church committees or
boards must ensure that the pastor and his family have adequate times of rest,
relaxation, and recuperation. This was
modeled time and time again by the Lord Jesus.
“Jesus knew that he must restore His wary heart, mind, and body. All though Jesus was fully divine, He was
also fully human! Though He remained
sinless, Jesus experienced the finiteness, frailty, and limitations of His
humanity (Hebrews 4:15). Thus, it was absolutely necessary that He
find rest and strength in frequent wilderness experiences with His Father.”  Sadly, pastors will often not realize how
stressful their lives have been until they remove themselves from the situation
through a vacation, or perhaps moving to another pastorate.
you asked your spouse how your breathing is?
Doing so may open a window into the stealth-like nature of stress.
Are you generally authentic in gauging your health? Rather than perpetually adapting, decide to
be honest in evaluations.
Do you closely monitor committee selection processes? Ensuring that Christians serve from their
gifts is vital, particularly for the personnel or church-staff relations
© Jim Fisher, Ph.D.
Christian Education and Leadership Concepts, LLC.
Fit for the Fight,
 Much of the
information is taken from the author’s dissertation: The Relationship
between Selected Disciplines
of Physical Wellness and Spiritual Wellness among Southern Baptist Pastors, 2006.
 Spaite, Daniel. 1999. Time Bomb in the Church: Defusing Pastoral Burnout, (Kansas City,
MO: Beacon Hill Press), 9.