I have been a pastor since 1996. During this time I have felt the negative effects of stress many times in my life. One of those times was very serious for me.
It was 4 days before Christmas of 2001 and Lauren was due to give birth to our second daughter any day. I was madly preparing for a wedding that was taking place the next day. I also was preparing for the two services that I was leading on Sunday. Needless to say, I was stressed!
I hadn’t felt well all week but then it escalated to having incredible pain in my chest and arm. To make a long story short, I ended up in the hospital for 4 days because I had virus attack my heart.
My immune system was weakened because of the stress that I had put on my body. I was discharged on Christmas Day (Merry Christmas!) and our daughter Sydney was born 4 days later. As a result of this incident I was off work for a month and then I could only go back part-time for several months.
I wish I could say that I learned my lesson about killing my stress from that experience but I didn’t. In May of 2007, I ended up on a 2.5 month medical leave as a result of stress and other issues.
Then in 2009, I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. Because of this I have to be even more aware of my stress levels. I have to admit that it is a daily struggle for me. There are still times (more times than I like) when I allow stress to get the best of me.
The truth is that stress kills many marriages, ministries and the people who lead them and if we don’t kill it, it will eventually kill us! WebMD says that 75–90 percent of all doctor’s office visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. Deadly stress is an all-too-real reality for the typical pastor.