You Can Be a Calm Presence in Anxious Times - The Center for Clergy Excellence Offers Support to Pastors

Date Posted: 12/24/2018

By: Sherri Gragg
Pastoring can be difficult, but what about the moments when you as a pastor find yourself in an environment fraught with anxiety? There are times when you are stressed and so are your leaders. Your congregation buzzes with tension, and so do your colleagues. “How can a pastor be a calm presence in anxious times?”
Disrupting Anxiety to Lead Faithfully
Over the course of four dates in November, The Center for Clergy Excellence strove to equip pastors to do just that. Jim Herrington and Trisha Taylor, coaches and consultants with The Leader’s Journey, met with pastors to help them develop concrete strategies for disrupting their own anxiety so that they might lead from a place of intentional faithfulness.
“I think dealing with anxious people is something pastors always face,” said The Rev. Elizabeth Duffin, Associate Director for the Center of Congregational Excellence, “Additionally, we are in a season as the United Methodist Church in which there is some uncertainty about what might be next. We want to respond to those situations pastorally, not anxiously.”

Practical Tools to Lead Well
The workshop helped attendees better understand their own anxiety as well as recognize common pitfalls surrounding moments of intense stress. Then, Herrington and Taylor challenged participants to embrace concrete strategies for coping well in difficult situations including following Jesus’s example of an emotionally mature leader.
“One of the things we talked about was that Jesus is our example of an emotionally mature leader,” said Duffin. “Jesus was beautifully defined and lovingly connected. He spoke in “I language.” He knew himself and his mission, his work. While he stayed connected with those he loved, he did not allow them to define him.”
Herrington and Taylor further challenge participants to strengthen their ability to deal with anxiety by developing healthy self-soothing techniques, practicing spiritual disciplines, and growing in personal courage and pain tolerance.

Future Opportunities
Duffin reports that the workshops were well attended and that the enthusiastic response from clergy indicate the topic is one they are eager to explore further. “I am so appreciative of our Office of Clergy Excellence for putting this workshop together,” said the Rev. Dr. Jeff McDonald, First United Methodist Church Nacogdoches. “It was offered to us at such an important time in the life of our churches. Our staff also attended so not only did we benefit as clergy, but also in the day to day working relationships of our staff. Knowing ourselves better will help us be the non-anxious leaders the church needs today.”
If clergy missed the opportunity to attend this year’s workshops, Duffin assures them that additional resources will be available in the coming year.
For more information, reach out to the Rev. Elizabeth Duffin at the Center for Clergy Excellence