Tag Archives: emotional health

When You Need a Good Cry

Yesterday it happened. I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know to what extent. Yet, when the first notes were played by our worship team, the tears began rolling down my face. Once they started, it was like a dam broke open and I continued to crying during the whole worship set. Thankfully, I had come into the sanctuary late and grabbed a seat in the second to last row, allowing me a little privacy as I had this mini emotional breakdown.

Interestingly enough, I was sitting between two very dear friends. I rarely sit by either, let alone both. Both of these women have beautiful singing voices and when I could not sing, their beautiful voices were like a balm to my spirit. During the first song the one on my left put her arm around me, offering comfort and strength. During the last song, the one on my right put her hand on my shoulder and I could tell she was praying for me. Also, my compassionate son who was sitting nearby went and grabbed me a whole wad of tissue so that snot wouldn’t drip down my face. When the minister is ministered to, it is a humbling yet wonderful thing.

Although, I have rarely been embarrassed to cry in public, I know many people who are. Some see crying as a form of weakness. Yet, God designed crying to be a natural stress reliever. Just like sweat was designed to keep your body from overheating, crying was designed to relieve stress, anxiety or other emotions that get built-up. In fact, “a study by the University of Minnesota discovered that the chemicals that build up in your body during emotional stress can be removed in your tears, and unreleased stress can increase your risk for heart attack and damage certain areas of your brain. So your human ability to cry is not only therapeutic, but could also be considered a survival tactic.”

Since God designed crying, it stands to reason that He does not see tears as a form of weakness, but rather a humble reliance upon Him. No wonder the word “cry” is listed about 150 times in the Bible. Consider the following examples:

During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. Exodus 2:23

“In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears. 2 Samuel 22:7

You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, Psalm 10:17

For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help. Psalm 72:12

From these verses, you can see that God:

  1. Wants you to cry to Him
  2. Hears you when you cry
  3. Offers you comfort and encouragement
  4. Helps you when you cry to Him

Even though, yesterday, I would have preferred to have a good cry in the privacy of my own home, I have learned that to be emotionally healthy, I can’t keep stuffing my emotions below the surface. I am modeling good emotional health to those around me when they see my tear-stained face once in a while. (This does not give me license to be an emotional basket-case any time I feel like it, but the reality is you and I need a good cry now and again.)   As worship concluded, there was a little battle going on inside me. We had a baby dedication right after worship and I didn’t want to get up in front of everybody with a tear-stained face. My flesh said “Stay in your seat”, but my spirit said “Go help your husband”. This time, my spirit won and by God’s grace and strength, I dried my tears and went forward to pray over a sweet little baby girl. As I did, Jesus healed my sorrow and turned it to joy. I don’t know how He does it, but that is one of His specialties. He gives us “the oil of joy instead of mourning” Isaiah 61:3. Whatever you are facing right now, either personally or on behalf of those you serve, turn to Jesus. Cry if you need to. He hears. He comforts. He heals.

Your Friend in Ministry,

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Work Hard to be Healthy

I have so enjoyed my Monday morning meetings with the young woman who is engaged to marry a pastor this summer.  She is fun to spend time with, is teachable and has been open and honest with me about her life.

This morning, we talked about working hard at being healthy – #1) spiritually, #2) emotionally and #3) physically.  Longevity in ministry is dependent upon the degree of health is each of these areas.

#1) Spiritual health – As a pastor’s wife, it is your responsibility alone to take care of your spiritual health.  Although your husband is the head of the home and He will lead you in God’s ways, you also need to have your own vibrant, growing, healthy relationship with Christ.  The primary way this happens is through spending consistent one-on-one time with Him through reading His Word and prayer.  However, there are other disciplines which help us grow as well, such as, journaling, memorizing Scripture, worshipping, fasting, accountability, etc…  Make your personal, spiritual health your number one goal, knowing that what is done in secret will reap the biggest spiritual dividends.

#2) Emotional health – This is where success in ministry is lost or won.  DO. WHATEVER. IT. TAKES. TO. GET. EMOTIONALLY. HEALTHY!  Every human being has some degree of emotional unhealth, that is part of the human condition.  A person’s unhealth affects them and also flows over into their small circle of influence.  By definition, a leader has a large circle of influence.  Therefore, as a leader, your unhealth affects a greater number of people.  Through the years, I have heard stories and witnessed first-hand the damage that has been done by emotionally unhealthy leaders.  Leaders aren’t immune to the traps/stumbling blocks of insecurity, comparison, anger, jealousy, and pride.  That’s why it is important to recognize these roadblocks to emotional health and do the hard work necessary to get victory over them.  Emotional health happens as you get real about the areas you struggle with, talk them through both with the Lord and other trusted people in your life, and get the help you need.  Emotional health is not something that happens by accident.

#3) Physical health – I like to regularly remind myself that ministry is a marathon, not a sprint.  In order to reach the finish line, leaders need to pace themselves.  By maintaining your physical health, you ensure that your body stays strong for the rigors of ministry.  Adequate sleep each night is essential for help.  I am the type of person who is an early riser.  I naturally wake up around 5:00am each morning.  In order for me to get the 7.5 hours that my body needs to function, that means that I cannot stay up past 10:00 at night.  I have heard going to bed early called “sleeping in on the other side of the clock”.  Also, what we put into our body makes a big difference in our overall health.  Making sure we are well-hydrated is a relatively simple way to take good care of your physical health.  Physical activity not only keeps your body healthy, but also does wonders for your brain and mood as well.

No one but you is responsible for your spiritual, emotional or physical health.  In the effort to love and serve others, sometimes self-care is the first thing to go.  Don’t feel guilty for taking care of yourself.  If you don’t do it, no one will do it for you.  Your personal health – spiritual, emotional and physical is the first step to a long and fruitful ministry.

Your Friend in Ministry,