by Julia M. Bruce, MSPC, Mental Health Coach,
CEO, Wellspring Christian Ministries

Consider your stress…a great joy

James told us that we are to consider the various trails we face in life not just a joy, but a great joy. Why? Because through them we are able to see how Jesus conquers them and then our faith grows and we are ready for the next thing He would have us do. But as James teaches us, increased faith only happens when endurance does its complete work in us. Endurance begins in understanding stress better, and we’ll start with explaining what stress is.

Defining Stress

The best definition of stress comes from combining two online dictionaries to create a solid understanding of stress. Using these two dictionaries, stress is, “A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances that disturbs or interferes with one’s normal physiological equilibrium. A physical, mental, or emotional strain or tension.” (Google) (Dictionary.com)

The rubber band of stress

If you think about a rubber band being stretched, then you can see how stress can affect you. Either of two things happens: one can stretch and stretch until the rubber band slips and then it sling shots across the room leaving a stinging mark on whatever – or whomever – it hits or it is stretched and stretched until it reaches its breaking point and leaves a stinging mark on the person who is stretching it as the rubber snaps and breaks.

The more stress we feel the more we can be like the rubber band and leave our stinging stress marks on those around us and on ourselves. The only problem is that stress and the marks it leaves can also hurt our testimony and therefore the very ministry we have been called to. The more we ignore stress or let it pile up, the more we are stretching that rubber band. We have to be able to both recognize what is causing stress in our lives and our most capable ways of dealing with stress.

Identify your stressors

The first step to dealing with stress is to identify what your stressors are. Major stressors can be easy to identify. They loom before us like giants, and keep us awake at night. Areas of chronic stress may not be as easy to see. There is also stressors that you might not think of as stressors…areas of life that can be exciting. You have to examine your own thoughts, feelings, habits and behaviors that might be contributing to your stress. For example, meeting an important deadline might cause a high level of stress, but you also need to examine if there are any habits or behavior that may have contributed to the stress of meeting the deadline. If you procrastinated until the last minute, then your procrastination would be the bigger stressor rather than the deadline itself.

To identify your stressors, first take a moment and answer the following questions:

  • What parts of your ministry are stressful?
  • Are you experiencing any spiritual stress because of unconfessed sin?
  • What part of your home and personal life is stressful?
  • Are there any strained relationships that cause you stress?
  • Are there any continual sensory stressors (such as a crying baby, or the co-worker who constantly taps their pencil on the table during staff meetings)
  • What emotions are you experiencing right now that cause you stress?
  • What financial stress are you experiencing?
  • Are there any health stressors?
  • Add any other stressors in your life.

Taking control of stress

As we continue to learn about stress, you might find you need to come back and add to what you have already listed. It’s one thing to identify the areas of stress in your life, but if you want to begin to get control over your stress, you must also take responsibility for the role you play for the stress in your life.  Ask yourself the following questions to help you identify any role you might be playing in the stress you have. Remember to consider your habits, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Take a moment to answer each question below and list an example of a recent stressful experience that comes to mind for each question:

  • Do you tend to explain away stress as temporary?
  • Can you remember the last time you were able to rest and take a break?
  • Do you see stress as just part of the nature of your ministry or home life?
  • Do you see stress as just part of who you are?
  • What habits do you have that contribute to or increase levels of stress in your life?
  • What attitudes appear when faced with stress that can add to the stressful situations?
  • Do you tend to blame stress on other people or events?
  • What beliefs do you have that might make stressful situations more intense?
  • What behaviors exhibit themselves when you are stressed?

Stress leaves its mark!

Think back to the example of a stretched rubber band that leaves its stinking mark on whomever it hit once it snaps. Just like it leaves a stinging mark, so do we when we are stressed. Consider each of these questions above and evaluate if the stressors you identified above are leaving their marks on others, yourself, or your ministry. Go back and identify the names of people that have been affected by the stinking marks left by the stress you experienced.

Very likely, you either identified yourself or someone else that was affected by every single one of them because it is just about impossible to experience stress without it leaving a mark somewhere. The questions then become: Are the marks your stress is leaving negative or positive marks? Positive marks will motivate yourself or others towards positive outcomes. Negative marks will cause contention, division, arguments, etc.

Take some time and consider the following: Are the marks negative or positive on those around you? Are they negative or positive to your ministry? Look back through the list again and identify what have left positive marks and which have left negative marks. You may find that there are both positive and negative marks. If there are negative marks, you might want to stop here and take some time to seek those persons out and ask for their forgiveness.

Take your stress to Jesus

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” No matter what stress we are experiencing, we can bring it to Him and find rest, comfort, strength, and wisdom. Spend some time and look up a verse in your Bible that would speak to each one of the stressors you identified. Begin working on memorizing these verses so when the moments of stress come in these areas, the Holy Spirit can recall them to your mind and you can speak Words of Life over your stress.

Self-care course and coaching

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Coming December 2021!

Pre-order for a 50% discount. You will get the complete set of downloadable self-care video-based course plus 10 group coaching sessions.

Pre-order now to receive a 50% discount! (Releasing December 2021)

You will get the complete downloadable self-care video-based course plus 10 group coaching sessions.

We know that ministry is hard! When you serve in ministry as staff or volunteer, you are on a spiritual battlefield 24/7. As you serve God, you fight for the Kingdom of God and our adversary is constantly attacking. He wants you to either lose your effectiveness in your ministry role or get you to quit. We must be sure we are reconnecting to the Vine (Jesus) so that we can refill, renew, and recharge. Then we can keep on pouring into others.

If you are feeling like you are losing the fight or struggling to stay in the fight, Jesus says to you, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” (Mark 6:31) Self-care is both Biblical and necessary, if you are going to stay in the fight and be effective in the Kingdom of God. Stress, burnout, and compassion fatigue are real weapons that the adversary uses against us.

Even if you do not serve in ministry, if you are a Christian, you too are in a spiritual battle. Every Christian fights the same adversary and our Biblical self-care principles are for every Christian.

What you get in this self-care course:

In Part 1 of this video-based course, you will learn about the spiritual dangers in ministry, discover if God is testing you or is Satan attacking you, understand that ministry is battlefield and how to be steadfast, immovable on the battlefield, learn how the devil uses his wiles and schemes against us, and remember how to use your Spiritual Armor. We will also breakdown stress, burnout, and compassion fatigue.

Part 2 is all about Preventing and Recovering from Burnout and Compassion Fatigue as we go through six areas that need self-care. In this part of the course we will provide you with practical ways that you can immediately begin practicing self-care. As you continue to serve God in whatever way He has called you, self-care is vital if you are not going to grow weary in doing good so you can reap at the proper time (Galatians 6:9).

Additionally, this packaged deal will provide 10 group coaching session where we will discuss the weekly assigned videos and do check-ins on where you are in each of the six areas of self-care that include: Spiritual, Sensory, Emotional, Social, Physical, and Intellectual.

Releasing in December 2021, this packaged deal will include the complete video-based course plus 10 group coaching sessions with the author, Julia Bruce. In the 10-week program you will complete weekly videos and assignments and then meet virtually for a group coaching session to help you apply self-care where you need it. 

But wait! That’s not all! Check out this Bonus to the self-care course and coaching program.

BONUS: While this course and group coaching is not releasing until December 2021, if you’re purchasing this material, we know you need help now. So, if you purchase before the release date, we’ll place you in our new private Facebook membership page for free through the end of 2021. In January, this group will require a monthly subscription of $19.99. But it will be yours free through the end of year when you purchase the pre-release of the course and group coaching sessions.  

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<<<NEW>>> In the Spreadshop Store:

Here in Florida, it does not feel like fall yet, but September is here and that means we are growing our fall line of t-shirt designs. Check out these two new designs:

Sweater weather

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See our other fall designs:

The slide show below highlights some of our favorite Christian Tees designs available in our Spreadshop and Teespring stores.

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When we ask Jesus to forgive us and save us from our sin, He takes our old, sinful self and makes us new in Him. This beautiful canvas is a great reminder of what Jesus has done for us.

See our Canvase prints in the Teespring Store: All Things New

All Things New

We’ve added a new canvas print to the Teespring Store. These prints make great gifts or for decor in your home.

When we ask Jesus to forgive us and save us from our sin, He takes our old, sinful self and makes us new in Him. This beautiful canvas is a great reminder of what Jesus has done for us.

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Our Verse Mapping download is FREE and includes 6 pages: 3 pages of instructions for using the template and the 2 page template, plus the cover page. If you’re looking to go deeper into God’s Word, learn more about God and develop a stronger spiritual life, Verse Mapping will help you dig into the scriptures. As you apply God’s Word to your life, you will develop a more intimate knowledge and relationship with God.

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Stress Journal

We all face stress. How we handle stress, however, has many variables. Learning how to recognize stress, coping with stress, and creating a self-care plan during times of stress can begin by journaling. Taken from our series on Biblical self-care for people in ministry, we’ve created this free download to help you through the things that cause you stress.

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The Path to Sin

Satan is constantly trying to trip us up and he doesn’t even play fair because he uses our own desires as bait to get us to sin. James tells us the five steps that lead us down the path to sin in James 1:14-15, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” This download helps you identify your desires so that you can better recognize when Satan is baiting you and you can avoid falling into sin. When used along with prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to identify the desires that Satan baits you with, you can then ask the Holy Spirit to help you not become a victim to the bait of your desires. Download the worksheet today.

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The Self-Care Wheel provides ideas for practicing self-care in six dimensions of yourself: Spiritual, Physical, Emotional, Intellectual, Sensory, and Social. NOTE: You will need 11X14 paper to print the wheel.

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