Setting mini-goals is the best way to achieve your goals. Achievable goals also provide positive feedback, increase your self-confidence, and help you attain your final goal. If you do fall short, accept that you are human and try again tomorrow. Every day is an opportunity for a new start.
As pastors, leading a congregation who willingly serves, loves Jesus, and gives of themselves generously is the goal. Sometimes, when any of us want something (that isn’t happening the way we would like it to) so badly, we rationalize and mislead ourselves into a “people pleasing” thought process that tells us that if we work hard enough to please the misguided sheep, they will see the light. But, that doesn’t necessarily happen. When we move from healthy ‘people pleasing’ to unhealthy ‘people pleasing’ it tends to be because our motivation for saying ‘yes’ has changed.
Our behavior is driven by our belief system. If we believe we MUST be loved and accepted by others and it is unacceptable to NOT be loved and accepted our beliefs will motivate us to bend over backwards in order to avoid rejection. To change our behavior we must change our negative pattern of thinking.
I learned that with some people, I can take a difficult situation and help facilitate a different outcome. I first became defensive, but when I had time to quiet my emotions, I was able to better see what had happened and communicate in an empathetic, fair manner. How we react to these situations influences if not determines the outcome of the situation. We will all deal with difficult people, or people in difficult situations. It is important to improve our abilities so we can handle these effectively.
It is inevitable that we will encounter difficult people; even in our Christian walk. However, it is empowering to know that in many situations, we have the ability to influence what happens next. Our perceptions of the encounter, our response or non-response, as well as the way in which we doggedly hold to healthy patterns of behavior and model Christian love, can change how the encounter moves forward. We should enter into prayer, asking God to help us see more clearly and work toward healthy outcomes. We should also remember that we are not alone. Help is available.
Unlike the difficult people we tend to see in the church, it can be hard for us (not necessarily so hard for those around us) to identify the difficult person within us. We can get defensive if others try to point it out to us which does nothing to keep that relationship healthy. Many of us in the helping professions (clergy, counselor, nurse, etc.) feel more comfortable putting other people's’ comfort and well-being before our own which creates or reinforces our existing inner difficult person.
The best thing you can do for both yourself and your family is to practice good self-care. As clergy, you support and guide others. When we are tired, fatigued, overwhelmed, apathetic or sad we have a hard time guiding ourselves let alone others. Participating in an effective and consistent self-care plan that rejuvenates you will prepare you to better support and guide others.