Six Ways To Be A Non-Anxious Presence As A Church Leader

When you walk in the room, do you raise the anxiety temperature, or lower it? Mature leaders learn how to be a calming presence.

We live in an anxious era. For most of my forty-plus years in pastoral ministry I was taught how to bring change and innovation to a church that was apathetic. Today, the problem is often the opposite. It seems like no one is apathetic, but everyone is way too stressed. This often includes the pastor.

Check out these six helpful ideas from John Finkelde about how to be a non-anxious presence in your congregation and your life.

Karl Vaters

My wife, Dianne is one of the calmest people I’ve ever met my entire life. Regardless of what’s going on inside her heart, in her mind, and her life and her family and her friends and the church. She has this calming presence whenever she walks into a room.

During my 30 years of pastoring, I would come home after a difficult day and say, “I’m done. I’m cooked. I’m out of here.” She would just calmly say, “Well, you might be finished, but I’m not. The Lord’s called me into our role here so take a chill pill, John.” Back in the day we used to say chillax. Calm down. Relax.

Today we talk about being a non-anxious presence amongst the people we lead. Let me give you six ways to become a non-anxious presence as a church leader.

1. Walk With Jesus

I have two questions for you.

  • What’s your place?
  • What’s your time?

Where and when do you connect with Jesus?

These are questions I ask when I’m preaching about walking with Christ. Do you have a place? Do you have a time?

My time is in the morning, and I have two places. My current place is walking and praying then sitting in a cafe with a coffee while meditating on and memorizing a verse.

My other place is my favorite chair in my home office where I sit with the Lord and the Scriptures.

I don’t think you can be a non-anxious presence amongst the people of God unless you have a current, vibrant walk with Jesus.

2. Forty-eight-hour Processing

Give yourself at least two full days of processing time when you face a big challenge or crisis.

Whenever a crisis hits me, whether it be a financial challenge or a leader going rogue, I give myself forty eight hours to process it. I allow myself to overthink it and to even have a sleepless night. I give myself two days to wrestle with the various options of best-case scenarios and worst case scenarios.

  • What’s the worst thing that can happen?
  • What’s the best thing that could happen?

After two days I reach for the faith lever and pray, “Lord, I’m moving to a deliberate place of trust and faith in you.” This is how I give myself the necessary time to wrestle my heart and mind into a place of faith and trusting Christ. Then peace of mind begins to settle.

You may not work this way, but this process has worked for me over the years.

3. Reach Out To A Friend

You don’t want to be vulnerable with everybody. If you overshare with too many people you will create anxiety within your church and friendship circle.

But we all need to be vulnerable with family and friends you can trust. We need a place to be real. That can be with your spouse, a close friend, or a confidante.

Recently I shared transparently with a couple of friends about a significant challenge I was facing. After these meetings I felt two things: lighter and clearer.

Here are questions you can ask these special people in your life:

  • What would you advise me to do?
  • Where am I getting this right?
  • Where am I getting this wrong? 

This process can turn anxiety into rest.

4. Bible Meditation And Memorization

As a young Christian, I had a Navigators Bible memory verse pack that helped me hide the Word of God in my heart. Meditating on and remembering God’s Word shifts me from a highly anxious mindset to being a non-anxious presence for others.

With this practice I slow down my reading, meditate on a verse or two, and commit it to memory. It’s good to slow down and stop at a phrase, reading it over and over. Then checking back in on it during the day.

This practice shifts your mindset from worry to peace.

I talked about Dianne being such a calm person. I think her peace demeanour often stems from her being a Bible person. Every morning over breakfast she has a Bible and a notebook and she’s reading and meditating.

I occasionally ask her, “What’s the Lord saying today? What’s the scripture of the day?”

5. Get A Coach

Getting a coach can help you grow your capacity.

At various times of my journey, I have utilized coaches for personal development and growth. These people have come into my world and asked probing questions. They’ve challenged me and helped me to expand my heart, soul, and mind.

As a church leader, you can become less anxious and calmer by growing your capacity through a coach. They can help you cultivate emotional intelligence which is primarily being aware of your emotions and the emotions of people around you.

Ministry coaches help you develop coping skills and leadership savvy.

6. Forgive And Release

We need to learn how to forgive and release those who have hurt us.

Some seasons are filled with pain as we suffer betrayal, experience unmet expectations, and deal with unloving people. Life does have pain, whether you’re a church leader or a believer following Jesus.

I used to be very unforgiving and bitter as a teenager. When I came to Christ, I discovered Jesus has forgiven me for all my sins. And there were a lot. This gave me a foundation to forgive others.

I had received forgiveness. Now I had to learn to forgive others and discard bitterness as an option.

While you may never recover a broken relationship you can decide to forgive and release the one who has hurt you. It will make you a calmer and non-anxious presence amongst your church.

(Photo by Erik F. Brandsborg Flickr)


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