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Leadership Under Stress: The Jesus Model

By November 3, 2011July 21st, 2019Church, Encouragement, Jesus, Leadership

Are you feeling the stress of leadership?

Are you in the midst of chaotic times?

Are there more times of crisis right now than times of celebration?

Are you facing decisions which appear bigger than you today?

Are you wondering how you should respond?

Perhaps we can gain some insight from the life Jesus.

Imagine the setting. In the midst of one of the busiest periods in Jesus’ ministry, Jesus received word that John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin…the one who had been preparing the way for Jesus’ arrival into public ministry…the one who baptized Jesus…had been executed at the hand of Herod the ruler. This had the potential to derail Jesus’ ministry. How would His disciples respond? Would they run in fear? Would the momentum shift?

Observe how Jesus, feeling the weight of leadership responsibilities and certainly dealing with personal grief, immediately responded to this tragic scenario.

When Jesus heard about it, He withdrew from there by boat to a remote place to be alone. Matthew 14:13

Throughout Jesus’ ministry, we consistently read of Him slipping away from the crowds…often by Himself…sometimes with a few close disciples…to be alone…to pray. Those times were apparently critical to His ongoing strength and success in the journey.

Now look back to the questions I posed to you at the beginning of this post…

Do you need to slip away? Do you need to get alone? Do you need to pray?

I’ve personally found the more stressful my circumstances the more time I need alone with God.

Whether you are a pastor, a ministry leader, or a stressed-out parent, I realize it seems everyone is looking to you for answers today. Your greatest response could be to slip away from the crowds. You’ll return better able to handle the demands placed upon you.

Have you often found strength in slipping away from the troubles before you respond?

(BTW, this post is not to be confused with the principles of THIS POST. Don’t use this as an excuse to run. Use it as a tool to prepare.)

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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Join the discussion 12 Comments

  • Bill Gallagher says:

    I needed to read this today! Thanks for sharing Ron!

  • Chris Patton says:

    Ron, I had a recent traumatic situation at my business when a 46 yr old sales manager had a heart attack in the showroom with 15-20 employees watching as CPR was administered. I was initially walking around, praying and wondering what to do. I wanted to run and pray in a closet alone, but I knew that was not what the situation warranted.

    Instead, I gathered all of the employees and spoke to them for a few minutes, encouraging them and letting them know that God was in control. Then I prayed with them. I remember my insides were coming apart (this guy was a good friend as well) and my legs were like jello. I wanted to be anywhere but there.

    At the same time, I knew the others needed someone to lead. Though my desire was to withdraw, the timing was not right.

    None of this is to say I disagree with your post. To the contrary, I believe we just need to be sensitive to the timing and urgency of the situation. In my case, I was able to sneak away later and cry like a baby in prayer. Without that opportunity, I cannot imagine making it through with my sanity.

    I will also say that we need to be withdrawing from the crowd when there is not a crisis. If we make it our practice to do this regularly, we are better prepared when the crisis hits.

    Thanks for the post!

    • ronedmondson says:

      I totally agree and we see this in the life of Jesus also. He didn't withdraw from the crowd when he saw them hungry and there wasn't enough food. He responded. It's certainly situation based.And yes, slipping away before the crisis is critical. Leaders need rest!

  • Excellent thoughts. This is why we have the Biblical concept of sabbaths, and why every leader needs to have one. Taking other time beyound that is also crucial. If our ministry is truly God’s then don’t we think He can handle it without us for awhile. (This also begs the Ephesians 4 principle of church leadership)

  • (Continued)

    I remember reading the book "Shoulder to Shoulder" by 'Dr. Rodney L. Cooper'. There he defines stress as “the response of a sympathetic nervous system to a perceived or actual threat. ……… stress is the way our body responds to perceived or actual danger; our blood pressure skyrockets and our muscle strength increases; we are ready to fight or fly; stress isn’t the cause but the effect.” So, we can say that stress is a reaction to danger – real or imagined.

    Hence, under stressful condition, we must be able to define perspective. We need to understand that our present circumstances could be contextualized into the bigger story, which is God’s story.

  • I feel that the awareness for the leadership should always begin with character formation and the development of emotional maturity. This goes a long way in dealing with stress effectively.

    And, I think much of the stress in our lives comes as a result of our insistence on maintaining the illusion of control. We so desperately want to be strong enough to handle the trials and tribulations of life on our own accord. We forget to throw ourselves headlong into the grace of God.


  • PeterHornOnline says:

    Great reminder, Ron. For me, the "preventive maintenance" of a monthly prayer and planning day has served me well over the last 10 years. I calendar the last Wednesday of each month as I put my annual plan together. In addition, I turn two of those times into two week-long times for extended prayer and planning: one in the fall about four weeks before our fall elder retreat, and one in the spring about four weeks before our spring elder retreat. Vance Havner said many times, "If you don't come apart, you will come apart." He was right.