High Anxiety, You (Won’t) Win!

I saw someone whom I had an unpleasant pastoral conversation with a while back. I felt the anxiety level in my body shoot up to an uncomfortable level. I didn’t want to be in the same room with the person. I wanted to be out of there and on my way.

Certain people trigger anxious moments. Perhaps it’s the purposeful person who wants to make me look bad and make themselves look good at all costs. I’ve known a few like that in my time. Granted I didn’t help the matter by either letting my anxiousness show or by poking them with a verbal sharp stick.

Maybe it’s the person who disagreed with a position that had to be taken on a certain point of doctrine or practice. They are so mad at me that they won’t attend Divine Service…at least until I take a Call elsewhere.

I get anxious rather easily. It’s not easy to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments when there’s a giant target on your back. The devil manipulates sheep to say and do foolish things. The devil also manipulates the shepherd of the Good Shepherd’s flock to say and do foolish things in return.

Looking back over the years God has given me to serve His Church, I see many occasions where I could have said or done something that would have saved a lot of heartache on either my part or another person’s part. Some of these moments were “teachable” moments where both parties could learn something about the Lord or about each other. Either I dropped the ball and was heavy-handed or the other person refused to listen to what I had to say and wanted to manipulate me to do their wishes.

No wonder I’m a wreck! A guy can only triple-guess himself so many times before he’s ready for the rubber room!

I was almost ready for such a comforting place. Then, God be praised, much like the Lost Son of Luke 15, I came to myself. Actually, the Lord brought me to a particular time and place where I could come face-to-face with what I now know is my illness.

It’s pithy but it works for me. I let go of the matter and let God take care of the situation. I’ve done all that God asks me to do. Where I have offended by careless or foolish talk, I apologize. Where I have spoken the Word faithfully, I let God take care of the matter. I pray for the person(s) involved and hope they won’t let the messenger get in the way of the Message.

There are times when I wish I could write or call every person that has had an unpleasant experience with me in a pastoral situation and apologize. Some things I could apologize for. Others I shouldn’t. The Lord’s Word was spoken in a difficult circumstance. But still I have guilt about those sticky situations we pastors find ourselves frequently dealing.

The Ministry teaches pastors that it’s not all about them. If it were, then my service of the Gospel would be a total failure. Bearing the burden of the Lord is not easy. The burden must be carried. Preaching happens in season and out of season. The work of the Ministry is not something to get anxious about. But it happens to me all the time.

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.

He does. This I believe. Lord, help my unbelief!



2 Responses to “High Anxiety, You (Won’t) Win!”

  1. High Anxiety?

    Hmmm…. I thought that was a zany movie by Mel Brooks.

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist the bad humor, but that’s what I think of whenever I have a panic attack. Sometimes that thought makes me smile and eases the tension. Hope the silly thought helps you smile too. 🙂

  2. I know exactly how you feel, except instead of being a pastor, I am a teacher. Every waking moment I am watched by several different pairs of eyes and parents are breathing down my neck if I ever do something even a little off. It’s one of the reasons I think why I turned to the younger children in daycare because the classroom stress was a little too much for me. It’s so hard to deal with these parents after an episode, too, because my anxiety is almost too much for me to handle. I know I should let go and give it to God, but I find it so hard! Thanks for sharing your struggle. I completely understand!

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