Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Cause of Stress in Ministry

In my previous two posts, I highlighted the extraordinary strain that Christian leadership represents, at least in large circles. An obvious question is: what is the cause? On this, the Christian leadership literature is clear. It is the need to influence followers, and the resistance or opposition that this brings about. The “greatest trial” for the Christian leader lies in driving values and visions against the status quo (Wofford J C 1999:85,86); there is a “depth and pervasiveness” of malaise among leaders over resistance to change (Roxburgh A J and Romanuk F 2006:16); instituting change is a draining process, even under the best of circumstances (Murren D 1997:205); leaders may be decimated by negative reactions to innovation (Barna G 1997:207); casting a vision is a daunting challenge, and opposition is hard to deal with (Hybels B 2002:41); selling vision is “an onerous task” (Blackaby H and Blackaby R 2001:65); and about 10% of followers will “predictably” not only resist Christian leadership but seek to sabotage it (Hunter J C 2004:75). Emotional strain is therefore clearly linked with the notion of the Christian leader as a person whose responsibility it is to influence followers through values or visions. QUESTION: What lies at the root of needing to drive “values and visions”? The diagram shows Wofford’s conception of the process.


Shaun said...

Stress comes because there aren't enough people going to the church anymore. And the reason for that is people want change in churches. We need to change the churches and then people might go to church more often. At the end of the day here will be less stress because the are more people supporting that church.

Thomas Scarborough said...

Decline in attendance is surely a major factor with regard to ministerial stress. Your comment is interesting, because the leadership literature (as opposed to other "Church genres") generally does not enter into this. The Churches I know personally, most are growing, but then I'm in Southern Africa -- and the leadership models tend to be quite different here, too. It would be interesting to hear from you what should change.