Anxiety in Children's Ministry...How to Deal With It

You look down the hallway and see 2 classrooms without teachers because they called out this morning....anxiety.

VBS starts in 2 weeks and you still need 3 teachers...anxiety.

One of your best teachers resigned yesterday...anxiety.

You are working on your day off...anxiety.

A parent is upset because they lost their pick-up tag...anxiety.

You have a meeting with the Pastor because a few parents are complaining...anxiety.

You've got so much on your mind that you are having a hard time sleeping...anxiety.

A child breaks their arm at kids' camp...anxiety.

You have a meeting with a volunteer that is upset...anxiety.

You haven't been able to take a vacation in over a year...anxiety.

You have to take work home because there is so much to do...anxiety.

You planned for 10 children to show up for the event...but 50 show up...anxiety.

All of your plans for kids' camp were on a laptop and the laptop crashes...anxiety.

A parent is 45 minutes late to pick-up their child after an event...anxiety.

It rains out your big, outside event...anxiety.

You feel like you are under constant pressure...anxiety.

You feel overwhelmed with what you are being asked to do...anxiety.

No matter how hard you work you can't seem to catch up...anxiety. 

You are being asked to do something that requires additional budget money, but you have no extra budget funds to cover it...anxiety.

You are struggling with your health while trying to keep a happy face...anxiety.

There are way too many things to get done in a 9am to 5 pm work day...anxiety.

Do you relate to any of these scenarios?  I do.  

Around 15 years ago, I was under so much stress in ministry that I begin to have extreme anxiety.  The church had grown from 8,000 to 16,000 in 3 years.  The children's ministry I led grew by 1000's of kids. 

It happened so fast that we could barely keep up.  There were some weeks when we would have 200 new families check in.  

I was working 60-70 hours a week to keep up.  As my anxiety continued to ramp up, I developed clinical depression.  My anxiety led to extreme insomnia.  I went an entire week without sleeping. read that week.  

Anxiety can take you to a dangerous place where you do not want to be.  It can even take you out of ministry if you don't learn how to deal with it.   

Anxiety can cause you to feel nervous.

Anxiety can cause you to feel helpless.

Anxiety can cause you to have a sense of impending danger or doom.

Anxiety can cause your heart rate to increase.

Anxiety can cause you to sweat. 

Anxiety can cause trembling.

Anxiety can cause you to obsess about anxiety.

Here are some signs of anxiety:

  • feeling on-edge
  • easily fatigued
  • difficulty concentrating
  • muscle tension
  • difficulty controlling worries
  • difficulty sleeping

If you are reading this and you are having anxiety, here are some tips on how to deal with it.  I am obviously not a doctor or therapist, so do not take this as medical advice.  I am simply going to share what I did to overcome disabling, extreme anxiety. 

Exercise.  I exercise 5 days a week.  I don't enjoy it.  There's a reason why they call it "working" out. But I have found that exercise is a great way to release anxiety...and so I hit the gym hard for those 5 days.  If you find yourself dealing with anxiety, head to the gym or start exercising in some format.

Get solid sleepAs I mentioned, when I had extreme anxiety, it was very hard to sleep. If you are not sleeping well, find some way to get back in a good sleep pattern.  This may include relaxation techniques and / or sleeping aides. 

Identify triggers.  Learn what situations or actions cause you stress or increase your anxiety. Work with your medical provider so you're ready to deal with anxious feelings in these situations. Or if needed, eliminate some of the big things that are causing you stress. 

Don't over spiritualize anxiety.  If you are experiencing anxiety, it doesn't mean you are not praying enough or not reading your Bible enough. Anxiety is a physical condition and should be treated as such. Yes, anxiety is something you should give to God and ask for His help overcoming. But He normally brings healing from anxiety through doctors, therapists and mental health providers.

Get professional help. As I just mentioned, you may need to go see a doctor or psychiatrist.  Seek professional help.  Don't be embarrassed about going. Just as a diabetic goes to see a doctor, so you can go to a mental health professional.  Listen to them and follow their instructions.  This may include taking anxiety medication as needed.  Take the medications as directed. Keep therapy appointments and complete any assignments your therapist gives. Consistency can make a big difference, especially when it comes to taking medication.

Have you experienced anxiety in children's ministry?  Share what you did in the comment section below.