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Empowered or Imprisoned?

Updated: May 5, 2020

It's been said that this COVID-19 season offers us as leaders, unparalleled opportunity to find a better balance in life and ministry. But as I've been working with senior pastors all across the country, most would say the ministry changes that have been necessary as a result of statewide social distancing and stay at home mandates, have made their lives much more difficult. Leaders who struggled with disruptive emotions, anxiousness, worry, fear, prior to the pandemic, have found themselves deeply struggling as they try to lead their churches/organizations through these unprecedented times. This post is not focused on how to get more done, but on how to begin to deal with the disruptive emotions that often negatively impact our ability to lead.

Don't try to fix it by just working harder…

For many of us, working harder is the only solution we have to deal with the tension, anxiety, fear, and frustrations that we feel in life. We often perceive these emotions as a liability, a sign of failure, or a warning of impending doom. Could it be that these disruptive emotions are, in part, God allowed awareness… revealing the areas of our lives that most need His healing and restoration. Like a flashing red light on the dashboard of our cars, disruptive emotions should compel us to pull over and ask for help. Often underneath these emotions are real experiences that have negatively shaped our perspective of life. God wants us to process through these events so that they can actually begin to empower, rather than imprison us. Instead of ignoring, stuffing, or trying to perform our way out of these emotions, we need to listen to what they're revealing about us, and genuinely, wholeheartedly turn to God and ask for help.

Don't try to carry things you're not designed to lift…

Years ago, I blew my back out, helping a friend move. I was carrying crates of books that I should have known were packed too heavy for one person to lift. Could it be that many of us blow ourselves up, by carrying emotional weight and responsibility that God never designed us to lift? What's on your shoulders? Is it that you’re carrying an un-healthy need to perform in order to meet people’s expectations or gain their approval? Could it be that you’re carrying a distorted need for perfection in yourself, your family, or your staff?  Or perhaps you’re carrying an unrealistic expectation that you have to be the expert in your organization, and therefore never ask for help or let other people shine. All of these things are back-breaking! We shouldn't be surprised that we struggle as we do! We can do nothing on our own (John 15:5). If you feel burdened and weighed down… respond to Christ’s invitation in Matt. 11 and simply come to Him. There’s real peace to be found if we're willing to relinquish our lives and ministries to Him, this isn't a call to inactivity, but an invitation to true God-filled effectiveness.

Approach a throne of grace...

Hebrews 4:16 invites us to "approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Very simply, grace is God doing something for us that we can not do for ourselves; think about that! God's throne of "I will do it for you" is a real place. Approach it through prayer and with great expectation. He's for you and not against you. The disruptive emotions we feel can teach us a lot about the brokenness that God wants to heal. Will you turn your heart to Him now? Or will you continue to try to make life work on your own?

For more information, reach out to ChristLife Ministries at 616-808-7773 or at

About the author

Greg is the director of ChristLife ministries. He's married, has two boys, and has served in full-time pastoral ministry for the past 23 years. He's been a senior leader, elder, worship pastor, ministry director, and has played an instrumental role in developing the ChristLife experience and vision.


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