Stewardship of Self for Christian Worker: Stress

  • Approximate Time Commitment: 15 minutes
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Brochures in this series contain self-help information for missionaries. Each brochure emphasizes practical things missionaries may do for specific problems in the absence of professional help.

Ideally, one ought to consult a medical professional before making any lifestyle change to ensure that the change will not be detrimental to existing conditions or treatments. However, some Christian workers have limited access to mental health professionals.

To read more from the Stewardship of Self series


Resource Description


From the time they first followed Jesus, Christian workers have faced great stress. Soon after they were called and appointed to ministry, the disciples found their ministry to the crowds so pressing that they did not even have time to eat (Mark 3:20). Nearly a year later, the stress was still so great that they still did not have time to eat, and they could not escape the crowds even when they tried (Mark 6:31-33)

What is stress?

Stress is a process involving environmental events (stressors), our own reactions to the stress, and the resources we use to cope with the stress. Think of this like the bills you receive in the mail. Example 1: You have $500 in the bank (resources), and you receive 20 bills totaling $800 due immediately (events), so you panic (high stress reaction). Example 2: You have $5000 in the bank (resources), but you receive 20 bills totaling $800 due immediately (events), but you have little concern (low stress reaction). Note that the stress you feel depends both on the events and on your resources. So to cope with the stress, you want either to decrease the stressful events or to increase your resources or both.

Some stressors (events) are always present in the background, such as noise, heat, insects, poverty, discrimination, minority status, and you are not even aware of them. Other stressors are the almost daily irritating hassles of life, such as traffic jams, waiting in lines, fender benders, struggling with language in new situations, loneliness, computers down, difficult co-workers, and bureaucracy. You feel the strain whenever they occur. Still other stressors are major life changes experienced by nearly everyone at some time, such as death of a family member, moving to a new church or field of service, serious illness or accident, and divorce of close friends (or yourself). You struggle with them when they happen. Finally, some Christian workers experience life-threatening stressors, such as assault, tornadoes, deadly diseases, earthquakes, evacuation, or war. The effects of these traumas can be long lasting.

Even positive things, such as marriage, the birth of a child, and promotion can be stressful. They require change or adaptation and draw on a person’s resources.


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