Is Worry Getting in Your Way? : Amber Albee Swenson
How can we overcome one of the most often overlooked hindrances to our spiritual well-being? In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by Amber Albee Swenson. Amber is a podcaster, speaker, and the author of seven books, including her latest entitled Soul Care. Together, Amber and Jason explore how worry can seep into our ministries and derail our spiritual well-being. Amber also shares some reminders and disciplines that can help us embrace healthy soul care.
Looking to dig more deeply into this topic and conversation? Every week we go the extra mile and create a free toolkit so you and your ministry team can dive deeper into the topic that is discussed. Find your Weekly Toolkit below… Love well, Live well, Lead well!
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- Additional resource links from this week’s conversation – so you and your team can easily find what is mentioned or referenced
- Ministry Leaders Growth Guide – key insights and concepts from this week’s conversation as well as engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process
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Additional Resource Links
www.amberalbeeswenson.com – Explore Amber’s website, featuring her insightful books, thought-provoking blogs, podcasts, and much more. These resources are specifically designed to empower and guide you on your transformative ministry journey.
Soul Care: Nurturing Your Spiritual Wellness – In her book, Amber challenges you to prioritize care for your soul and provides practical, biblical wisdom to help you find lasting peace, rest, and joy as you nurture your spiritual well-being. You’ll discover that soul care is worth your time and energy because Jesus is forever, and everything else is temporary.
www.timeofgrace.com – Time of Grace connects people to God’s grace—his love, glory, and power—so they realize the temporary things of life don’t satisfy. However, through Jesus we have access to the eternal God—right now and forever.
Feeling overwhelmed, burned out, or just want to talk? Complimentary Coaching Session for Pastors http://PastorServe.org/freesession
Ministry Leaders Growth Guide
Key Insights and Concepts
- Prioritizing the care of one’s soul is essential because everyone experiences those days when they just want to give up. In those moments, having someone there to offer support is invaluable because everyone is susceptible to tough times.
- Discovering and truly understanding one’s unique gifts and talents can empower individuals to serve God joyfully, utilizing the abilities they possess.
- When stress, exhaustion, and worry become dominant in the lives of pastors and ministry leaders, it’s a sign that they are struggling with embracing a healthy rhythm in life and ministry.
- Leaders must avoid investing time in unproductive pursuits, as negative influences often use these distractions. Recognizing and resisting these diversions is essential to stay focused on the meaningful work God is calling them to do.
- The way ministry leaders address the challenges they face is critical. Worrying and stressing out does not improve the situation. Being prayerful and thoughtful can guide them to more helpful actions.
- Scripture provides a compelling reminder for individuals to cast their anxieties upon God, emphasizing that He is more than capable of carrying their burdens, no matter how heavy they may feel.
- In order to effectively care for the souls of others, one must prioritize self-care of the soul. Only as one’s own spiritual well-being is nourished can one genuinely and effectively care for others.
- Ministry leaders must be careful not to become so deeply immersed in the logistics of organizational tasks that they overlook listening to Jesus.
- Every person has been entrusted with a unique ministry, and their responsibility is to remain steadfast in fulfilling that ministry. The number of people in their congregation, whether 100 or 2,500, is not the measure of success; rather, faithfulness to their given calling is what truly matters.
Questions for Reflection
- How am I proactively prioritizing my personal soul care? How am I cultivating a support network to help me navigate challenging moments?
- Do I tend to compare myself and/or my ministry to others? If so, why do I believe I do this? How does this impact my life and ministry?
- What are my unique gifts and talents that I use to serve God? How can I better focus on how God is uniquely using me rather than comparing myself to others?
- How does worry impact my life and ministry? Do I tend to worry regularly? What can I do to overcome this tendency?
- Do I find myself excusing my worrying as simply being concerned? How would I explain the difference between worrying and being concerned, specifically as it plays out in my own life? Are there changes I need to make in this area?
- How can I become more vigilant in identifying and resisting distractions that steer me away from my meaningful work?
- What strategies can I use to handle challenges effectively and avoid unnecessary stress? How might these strategies guide me toward more constructive actions?
- How can I deepen my trust in God’s ability to bear my anxieties and burdens? What practical steps can I take to cast my worries upon Him as suggested in scripture?
- Am I prioritizing personal soul care and nourishing my own soul? If so, how? If not, why do I struggle with this?
- How does caring for my own soul impact the way I serve and minister? What can I do to better care for my soul?
- When I am facing difficult times, where do I turn for encouragement? What role does scripture play in how I address challenges?
- How can I break free from the habit of dwelling on “what if” scenarios that only lead to stress and anxiety and instead redirect my energy toward more constructive and grounded thinking? What will this look like for me?
- As I reflect on my life and ministry, am I fully embracing and faithfully carrying out the unique ministry that I’ve been entrusted with, regardless of the size of my congregation or external measures of success? Why or why not? Do I struggle with thinking my impact is “not enough”? How can I become more healthy in this area?
How can we overcome one of the most often overlooked hindrances to our spiritual well-being?
In this episode, I’m joined by Amber Albee Swenson. Amber is a podcaster, speaker, and the author of seven books, including her latest entitled Soul Care. Together, Amber and I explore how worry can seep into our ministries and derail our spiritual well-being. Amber also shares some reminders and disciplines that can help us embrace healthy soul care. Are you ready? Let’s go.
Hello, friends, and welcome to yet another insightful episode of FrontStage BackStage. I’m your host, Jason Daye, and it is my privilege each and every week to have the opportunity to sit down with a trusted ministry leader and dive into a conversation on an effort to help you and pastors and ministry leaders just like you embrace really a healthy and a sustainable rhythm for both your life and your ministry. And excited about today’s show, we are blessed to be a part of the PastorServe network. Not only do we produce a show every single week, but our team also creates a toolkit that complements every single episode. This gives you and your ministry team at your local church an opportunity to dig more deeply into the conversation that we have and dive into the topic. You can find that toolkit at PastorServe.org/network. There you’ll find a number of resources, including our ministry leaders growth guide. And again, you can use that with the leadership team at your local church to really reflect on this conversation and to dig more deeply so be sure to check that out at PastorServe.org/network. Our team at PastorServe loves to walk alongside of pastors and ministry leaders. We are offering a complimentary coaching session with one of our trusted and experienced ministry coaches and you can learn more about that at PastorServe.org/freesession. Now, if you’re joining us on YouTube, I ask that you give us a thumbs up and just take a moment to drop your name and the name of your church in the comments below. We love getting to know our audience better and we will be praying for you and for your ministry. And whether you’re watching on YouTube or listening on your favorite podcast platform, please take time to subscribe and to follow so you do not miss out on any of these great conversations. And as I said, I’m excited about today’s conversation. This time, I’d like to welcome Amber Albee Swenson to the show. Amber, welcome.
Amber Albee Swenson
Thanks for having me. And wow, those are great resources. Thanks for doing that.
Yeah, so excited to have you sister with us. Excited about diving into this conversation. Now, we are going to talk about soul care, which, as you and I both have talked about, that this is something that we actually share a lot about on the show. And so this is one of those things that we believe in very much so that we understand is important for ministry leaders to really embrace. And it’s interesting because the ministry often looking out for other people’s souls, right? That’s where we invest a lot of our time and our energy. And sometimes we neglect our own soul care. And so I appreciate you’ve recently released a book aptly titled Soul Care that really dives into some different elements around just really what does it mean for us to care for our own souls? And we are going to look at one element, at least one element, but we’re going to start with this one element. As I read through this chapter in the book, it really kind of jogged my mind a bit, because it’s one of those things that can suddenly slip in. We may not recognize it and yet, as you say, it can really kind of derail caring for our own souls. And that is the topic of worry. And so Amber, I would love for you just to kind of share with us if you would, how is it that worry begins to hinder our own soul care?
Amber Albee Swenson
Yeah, so I work with one of my colleagues, he’s Pastor Mike Novotny, and he calls worry and anxiety living in the land of what if? So, instead of just dealing with what we have on our plate now, and I think anybody in ministry has probably enough on their plate, if we think about it.
Right, without a doubt.
Amber Albee Swenson
Instead of focusing and concentrating on what’s right in front of us right now, we let our minds go to the “But what if? What if I plan this event and this happens, or that happens? Or what if this person doesn’t show up? Or what if I suddenly lose my train of thought? Or what if I do all that counseling with that person and then they make a different choice?” And we’re investing so much time and energy into living in a what if land that isn’t reality. And so many times we work out scenarios in our head that never come to pass. So when you start thinking about how much time and energy you’re putting into that, how much sleep you’re losing, thinking of things that could go wrong, or might go wrong, or this person isn’t making the right choices or whatever, you realize that it’s such a phenomenal waste of time and energy to live in that land of what if and yet it’s so easy to do.
Yeah, without a doubt, Amber. And it’s interesting when we look at this topic of worry — I find myself doing this, I’m sure others do this — we tend to soften worry with the idea of we’re concerned, right? We’re ministry leaders, we’re pastors, this is what we do. We’re concerned for others. We’re concerned about the outcomes. And so we tried to soften this idea of worry with, this is just — we’re doing our responsible duty in ministry. Amber, how is it that we can kind of fool ourselves when it comes to caring for our own souls, and talk ourselves out of certain things or even just soften things like this, especially when it comes to this idea of worry?
Amber Albee Swenson
I think concern is fair. I mean, I think we see a lot of things to be concerned about in our culture, in our families, in congregations and I think concern is fair. What you do with that concern can either become worry or something far better, which is “Is this within your control?”. I have older children. So my kids are — my youngest is 15, up to 23. And I’m no longer in a situation to make sure they make all the right choices. My 15 year old is living at home, I have one married one off at college. And so, you can be concerned when you see things and when you hear things that you were like, “Wow, I didn’t think we did that as a family.” But what are you gonna do about that? So I could sit up and worry all night, I could worry and fret all day, I could run my children nuts and crazy by nagging them, but really at the end of the day, none of those things have done anything. So a better option, when we are concerned with a member, with our family, with where the world is going, is to pray. That’s what we’re directed to do. We’re directed in Scripture to cast our anxiety on Him. God has big shoulders. He can handle all of it. I can’t. So, concern is fair. But what are you going to do with that concern once you see something? If you’re not praying and involving God in the situation, you’re really only depending on your own resources. And I know, for myself, I can’t make anybody else do anything. No matter how many times I tell them, “That path is a bad path” or, “You really got to think about this”. Only God can change hearts.
Yeah, that’s helpful, Amber. And when it comes to soul care, a lot of soul care has to do with really just paying attention. Slowing down and paying attention to our own lives, our own rhythms and those types of things. And so Amber, help us with this idea of what do we need to be looking for? As we’re paying attention, right? When things are shifting from concern to worry, like what are some red flags maybe or some hints that we’re overreaching a little bit?
Amber Albee Swenson
Not being able to give it up. So it’s you’re ruminating on the situation over and over and over. Like I said, when you’re not sleeping. When you were up at night worried, really truthfully worried. When you think that you have control but you don’t have control over. When you’re thinking about things that don’t really matter, think of the disciples coming to Jesus and saying, “Who’s the greatest?” or “Can I sit on your right?” or “Can I sit on your left?”. When your mind is constantly going to those things that don’t really matter but you’re fixated on them, then that’s a point of concern. And I’ve also found that when I’m fretting, so when I cannot stop thinking of something, when I am fretting, when one of my children — just recently, I had a daughter driving back to college, she was pushed off the road, like somebody cut into her lane, she was in a ditch. You get this call and you’re just fretting, right? And then I think, “Well. wait a second. She called me, she’s okay”. Like, stop, think. And then I — there’s something that I’ve learned to do because I’m a great warrior, I have tried and I have come a long way in overcoming this — I remind myself God is faithful. So when I’m praying, and I’m praying about my adult children or whatever or a situation in the church or a situation in the world, I pray, and I give it to God, and I think “God, You are faithful. You’ve seen all of us. You know us. I’m putting it in Your hands.” And then, I just need to leave it there. If it’s becoming a source of, like I said, you’re ruminating on you cannot do anything else, you bring it up over and over and over in a conversation, you go home at the end of the day and that’s all you’re talking to your wife about, it’s a problem, give it to God.
Yeah, that’s helpful. Now, as we’re looking at just kind of our own life, our own kind of spiritual formation, you’ve given some great insights on how to kind of combat worry — prayer. And, we all are like, yes of course we should pray, right? I mean, that’s like the given, although oftentimes, we move to so many other things and prayer is almost a last resort. And then you talked about this faith, declaring God’s faithfulness, which I think is huge, right? So it’s this idea of leaning in, praying, and then not just — you know how sometimes we can just, our prayers are just us worrying out loud to God somehow. You know what I mean? Like we’re still ruminating as you said, but we’re kind of spiritualizing it, because we’re talking to God about it. But this idea that you mentioned of actually declaring God’s faithfulness, and looking to the goodness of God, and in the presence of God in this situation, I think is super helpful. Are there other things, Amber, that you have found maybe helpful in your own life, or you’ve seen in the lives of others, other tools or disciplines that can help us overcome this tendency to worry?
Amber Albee Swenson
Yeah. So two things come to mind – reading the Bible, and figuring out where worry comes from. So first of all, when the children of Israel got to the promised land, they saw the people who were there. The spies came back. They saw the people and they immediately turned to just all out worry. “They’re too big, they’re too powerful. There’s no way.” God wasn’t very happy with that. I mean, it was a pretty serious consequence that they had to pay because He’d showed His faithfulness, all along the way. When they didn’t have food, He provided food. When they didn’t have water, He provided water. He was a pillar of light, and day and night pillar of fire, and the cloud during the day. He had shown himself. And so in the Bible, we’re given these things of God’s faithfulness. Go to the Bible and read these stories. Read about Gideon and how God met him in his worry. And the children of Israel and how God met them. And then read David going up against Goliath who had zero worry because he knew where his hope was found. So I mean, I love and I need to go back to the Bible to see what examples were given in terms of who worried and how did that go for them, and who trusted in God and how did that go for them? And you can always write your own stories of faithfulness. We’ve all gone through things, sicknesses, money issues, trauma at the church, right? How did God get us through that three years ago? Remember how that worked out? Remember the miraculous ways he showed up? Go back to that. Then also just remembering where worry comes from. Worry is not from God. Nowhere in the Bible does it say worry. In fact, we’re told as a command, “Do not worry.” And when I realized that, as I was studying the book of Matthew and I came to that passage, is the first time I realized it was a command and not a suggestion. “Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not worry.” It’s not a commandment but it’s a command. It’s not a suggestion. And Jesus didn’t say, “except for if things are really spinning out of control, then you should”. He said, “Do not worry.” You know why? Because my Heavenly Father sees when birds fall. And if He sees when birds fall, why do you think He’s not watching everything you do? When I realized that and recognized that “Wait a second. Worry is not from God, then where’s it from? It’s a tool of Satan. And if it’s a tool of Satan to derail me — that was a great word that you used — to derail me from my purposes and all that God would have me do, I don’t want it.” So you need to learn to say, “I’m not doing that.” And once you learn that, once you figured out — we’re told, “resist the devil and he will flee from you”. So when you declare “God is faithful, I’m not going to worry about this”, Satan has nothing to do. Like he tried, you’re not falling for it.
Yeah, I love that. As we’re serving in ministry, as we are wearing many different hats, lots of activity, lots of concerns, lots of things that we’re we’re dealing with, do you find, Amber, that worry grows whenever in the midst of heightened activity, as opposed to — it seems to me in my own experience, that those times when I’m not slowing down are those times when my worries — you know, it makes sense. As I’m saying this out loud, I’m like, no doubt, right? It makes sense. But talk to us a little bit , Amber, of that relationship between slowing down or hyperactivity, lots of things happening and worry. How does that all come together?
Amber Albee Swenson
Yeah. So I would say, who are the voices around you? Because again, those children of Israel outside of the land of Canaan, all the leaders were saying “We can’t do it.” They were the ones who were saying, “This is too much, guys, we can’t do it.” And they persuaded the children of Israel. I have a dear friend, one of my dearest friends in the world, she always says, “Amber, the most important things have been paid for. Jesus died for our sins. Everything else, if your Christmas program doesn’t go off great, if one of the guitars doesn’t work, it’s not as big of a deal as you’re making it out to be. Really, we put a lot on ourselves as ministry leaders that nobody’s salvation depends on this. If you’re not preaching the Word, now, I have reason to be worried for your congregation. But if you’re doing your due diligence, and I would say this, I went to a leadership conference years ago. I bet it was 12, 15 years ago. And there was a district president there who was over multiple pastors, and he was telling each of us, “Look, guys, if your spiritual life is not where it should be, so if you’re not spending time with God every day, if you’re not reading your Bible, if you’re not praying, your ministry is absolutely showing it.” And he says nine times out of 10, when a congregation comes to him, they’re having problems with their pastor, the first thing he asks is, “How’s your personal Bible study going?”, and the pastor will say, “It’s been so busy”. And I’ll say, that is not something that’s negotiable because you can’t do all the rest. If you’re not feeding yourself first, if you’re not taking care of your soul, you can’t be the caretaker of other people’s soul. You can’t do it effectively. So it really comes down to making that private time for you. Look at Mary and Martha. What was the problem there? Martha did a beautiful thing inviting Jesus into her home. He was in her home talking and she wasn’t listening to Him. We’re so busy at church putting events on, putting things on. If we’re not taking time to listen to Jesus, we’ve missed it completely. Our service is going to be lackluster at best.
Yeah, that’s good. It’s such a great reminder there. One of the other things that you touched on in your book Soul Care is kind of this comparison piece, right? And in that comparison piece, and the worry piece, they relate to one another, especially I think in ministry, probably in all aspects of life. But from the perspective of ministry, there’s this idea of we’re comparing ourselves to other church down the road, or more likely the church on social media or YouTube or whatever, right? And that comparison then feeds back into this worry. So talk to us a little bit, Amber, about how we can recognize those two pieces and how they interplay and what can we begin to do to help ourselves overcome that?
Amber Albee Swenson
Yeah. First of all, I want to say that I am not above this. Just today, somebody sent me something about Christian podcasters and I quickly googled them like, top 100 Christian podcasters in America or whatever. Female podcasters, I’m like, “Yep, I’m not on the list. No.” So it’s like, none of us are above it. We all get sucked into it. Social media does not help anybody. Go back to the book of John. I think it’s pretty near the last chapter Jesus reinstates Peter, and Jesus walking with Peter and telling him what’s going to happen. And John is following them. And Peter is like, Yeah, but what about him? And Jesus said, that’s not your concern. That’s not your deal. You worry about you. We have all been given a ministry and our job is to be faithful to that ministry. And it doesn’t matter if there’s 100 people in your church or 2500 people in your church. We are to be faithful to what we are given. And when I minister to women all the time, I’m telling them “Look, your role is to minister to your family, to your people and your neighbor, to your sphere of influence. Your sphere of influence are the people on your block, your co-workers, the people you go to church with. We always think that it has to be big and noticed for it to be valuable. That’s just not the way of God. Look at Zerubbabel when he was starting to rebuild the temple. The people are like, “This is it? This is nothing. This is just a speck of what it used to be.” And God said to him, “Do not despise the day of small things. Small things matter. You’re doing something important here. So do what you have been given to do faithfully and well.” That’s what we answer to God for. We don’t answer to God for if we’ve gotten to be 5000 members. God put us where we need to be. And if we need to go somewhere else, he’ll open that door too.
Yeah, that’s good. Sometimes in the day to day — it’s the way our world is set up — sometimes in the day to day, that’s a challenge. I mean, you’ve inevited. Today, you bumped into this exact thing. So Amber, when we’re looking at soul care for our own lives, what are some ways that we can combat our propensity to compare ourselves to others,
Amber Albee Swenson
just recognizing our gifts. I think it’s so important to get a good grasp on your spiritual gifts. So I am horrific at hospitality and I am the first to admit it. I had a graduation this year and a wedding and I had a hundred people over my house for a graduation party. And I was miserable for a month prior because I just do not do this well. Ask me to teach a Bible study and I’m all in. But when you know your gifts, when you know what God uniquely created you to do, then you can joyfully serve Him in the gifts that He’s given you to do. I’m guilty and I think a lot of people, I think a lot of ministry leaders are guilty of trying to do things that they’re not uniquely qualified to do. You’ve got people running the worship team that don’t read music. And when you realize, maybe the reason this isn’t going very well for me is because I’m not the person who should be doing this. And if I’m not the person who should be doing it, that means that someone else here probably has the gifts, and they would do it a hundred times better. And recognizing that we don’t have to do it all. We don’t have to do it all at the church. This is a body. There are different spiritual gifts for different people, and we’re all uniquely gifted. Then we can take a lot of pressure off ourselves in not just in terms of comparison, but in terms of how is my ministry going? Am I doing what I’m called to do? Or am I trying to do a whole bunch here that honestly, I’m not that great at? I probably shouldn’t be doing this.
Yeah, again, that’s really helpful. The idea of really leaning into our strengths, I think as you’ve said, helps kind of erase some of that comparison trap, or at least alleviate a bit of that comparison trap. Because then again, it comes back to our uniqueness in Christ and back to what you even said earlier, just our faithfulness in who He created us to be and how we are living that out right before others. And so as we look at this kind of tandem of worry and comparison, what would you say, Amber, is the — in terms of ministry and leading a ministry — the way to kind of combat those two things together, because they feed one another. So, are there ways that we can kind of, again, identify what’s happening, identify our triggers that we can have, positive triggers that we can have. Say, I might be moving into this kind of comparison – worry, comparison – worry, kind of battle back and forth.
Amber Albee Swenson
I would start with “How joyful are you?” Because if you’re serving and you’re stressed out and you’re miserable, something’s off. Something’s very off. And I think all of us in ministry have been there. I know I have. And I was putting way too much on myself. I was majoring in the minors, every micromanaging, trying to make sure everything was perfect, every teacher did this. If you are stressed out, wore out and pretty miserable, then I would say you’re worrying meter and your comparison meter, and even just your identity are probably a bit off. When I quit comparing — one of my dear colleagues, a couple of my colleagues right now are in Santa Barbara. Right now they’re on a little trip for our ministry. And you get the pictures, right?
Amber Albee Swenson
I could get the pictures and think, “Hmm, must be nice, must really be nice.” I don’t think that at all, I praise God that He put them in that position, and that they are doing the ministry that He put before them. And I’m here talking to you. And isn’t that wonderful? Because this is where God has put me today. We can spend so much of our time on all the wrong things and until we recognize that that is Satan’s way of keeping us off track and keeping us from the important work that we need to be doing, then we’re going to keep falling into his traps. But if we’re miserable, if there’s no joy in our service, if we’re constantly envying other people, that’s not from God. It’s far better if you’re struggling with that. And like I said, we all fall into the trap. I mean, I’m not beyond this. It’s just a good time to pray and thank God for the good work that those other people are doing. Pray and thank God for the good ministry that He’s given you. And leave it there because if God wants you in a different place, He’ll put you in a different place.
Yeah, that’s good. Amber. One of the things you mentioned there, you alluded to the fact that we often put more on our shoulders than God’s putting on our shoulders.
Amber Albee Swenson
Oh, very much so.
Yeah. Our expectations for ourselves are often much greater than God’s expectations. When it comes to caring for our souls, that alone can be very debilitating. Yet, it’s very easy to do, I would say especially in ministry, because we feel called to this. The questions we’re wrestling with are our questions of eternity. They’re all these amped up things that come together in ministry. How do you Amber, or how have you seen others process through in a healthy way that overburdening ourselves with expectations?
Amber Albee Swenson
I think one of the greatest quotes in my Soul Care book is “The Savior of the world did not have a savior complex.” When I look at Jesus, He didn’t cure everybody. He withdrew. You know why He withdrew? He withdrew to pray. And you’d think, “why did He need to pray?”. But if He did, my guess is I’m going to need to. Jesus recognized that you can’t go 100% all day, every day. It’s not sustainable. And if Jesus withdrew to pray, to teach his disciples, if he stayed away from crowds when the — you notice, sometimes when he walked away was when things were getting heated in Jerusalem. He went away. So sometimes when the political situation is getting crazy, we need to back off a little bit. We don’t have to comment on everything that’s going on in the world. In fact, a lot of times anymore. This started in 2020, I remember “Oh, the political climate was just awful”. Not just because of COVID. But I live in Minnesota where the George Floyd incident happened. So I mean, the climate was pretty volatile. And sometimes I just had to say, “These things are so far above me that I just have to put them on God shoulders, and I don’t have to comment on every single thing”. Because you know what, these are complex issues. I’m neither a medical doctor, nor am I an expert on racial tension and relationships. And for me to think I need to comment on everything, all I could say is, guys, this is complicated and it’s complex and we’re all trying to dig through it. In the meantime, let’s give each other tons of grace. Let’s go to the Lord, let’s keep going back to the Gospel because we know that doesn’t change. We put far more on our shoulders than we need to but if we looked at Jesus, He didn’t do that.
Yeah. Amber, I so appreciate that because I think one of the pieces of that putting stuff on our shoulders and in those hyperexpectations we have on ourselves, is we almost feel like we have to be experts in every field out there, right? Somehow we have to, as you said, we have to know the answers to every question around politics or around racial division, or whatever it is happening, medical stuff with COVID and all those things. And the reality is, just us be on the rest, as you said, in the goodness of God, and step back and say, “Yeah, things are a mess but but God hasn’t asked me to fix everything, nor could I.” So we have to be careful that we don’t take on more than what God has asked us to take on. But yet we’re obediently leaning into everything that He’s asking us to lean into. And so that’s a part of our journey as ministry leaders and I really appreciate you sharing that. Amber, as we are kind of winding down this conversation, I wanted to give you an opportunity. You have the ears and eyes of your brothers and sisters serving on the frontlines of ministry. I’d love to give the opportunity just to speak some words of encouragement into their lives now. What words would you share with them today?
Amber Albee Swenson
Keep first things first. Like I said, I majored in the minors for too long. I worried about little details but it’s so important to take your soul care seriously and to have accountability partners. The older I’ve gotten, the best ministry I do is with people who are like-minded, who can tell me – you know, I’m reading this in the Bible right now and that encourages me, that spurs me on. And like I said, that good friend of mine who when I’m off on a tangent and fretting about something, that good friend of mine who says, “God took care of the most important thing, He’s got your salvation under control. So you worrying about the kids costumes for the Christmas party probably aren’t that big of a deal.” And I need that. And I hope that ministry leaders, I think most of us have realized that you can’t isolate. It’s not good to isolate. It’s important to have friends and accountability partners who you can go to for that encouragement, especially that encouragement in the Word. I had a great friend who through 2020 and 21, we were going through the Psalms, we’d pick different books of the Bible, and we’d text each other every day. Like, “This is what I noticed. Did you notice this?” And man, the promises just leapt off the pages. And so it’s really important to take your soul care really seriously. And also to have other people walking alongside you, who can pick you up when you’re falling down because we’re all there. We all get those days where we’re “Man, I’m not going on.” Like, “This is where I’m done. I’m done.” And you need somebody, you need that other person to come alongside you and say, “Here’s a promise from God’s Word”, or “Here’s what I’m reading today.” Or “Here’s a worship song. Have you heard this one yet about whom shall I fear? God of angel armies, always by your side.” And so that’s super important to me, just to have those people in my life, who I can be transparent with when I am down and when I’m overwhelmed so that they can redirect me and get me back on track again and fix my eyes away from myself to Jesus.
Yeah. I love that encouragement. And in that isolation piece, that’s a killer. You isolate yourself. Oh man, the enemy loves that. Nothing more than than that. And talk about do you really in your soul care, you isolate yourself, I mean, we were created to be in community and God makes that clear throughout Scripture so I appreciate that reminder. So important. And we can’t get just caught up in stuff and forget that so thank you for that Amber. Amber, if people want to connect with you, your ministry, your podcast, your book, what’s the best way for them to do those things?
Amber Albee Swenson
So if you go to my website amberalbeeswenson.org, I have my podcast there, I have links to the books. I’m part of Time of Grace, timeofgrace.org is another place to not only find all the resources that I offer, but the rest of the team as well.
Excellent, awesome. And for those of you who might be driving down the road right now, as you’re listening to this or on the treadmill, we’ll be sure to have links to Amber’s website where you can find the links to everything else and her other ministries that she mentioned in the toolkit for this episode at PastorServe.org/network, so you can find all of that there. Amber, it’s been an absolute blessing to have you join us today. Certainly appreciate the heart you have for encouraging people to take seriously, as you said, caring for our souls, and in the fact that, as you said and reiterated time and again during that conversation, that if we’re not caring for our own souls, it’s very difficult for us to care for the souls of others and to really live out the calling God has in our lives. So thank you for that reminder. So appreciate it.
Amber Albee Swenson
It’s been a joy.
All right. God bless you. Thank you.
Now, before you go, I want to remind you of an incredible free resource that our team puts together every single week to help you and your team dig more deeply and maximize the conversation that we just had. This is the weekly toolkit that we provide. And we understand that it’s one thing to listen or watch an episode, but it’s something entirely different to actually take what you’ve heard, what you’ve watched, what you’ve seen, and apply it to your life and to your ministry. You see, FrontStage BackStage is more than just a podcast or YouTube show about ministry leadership, we are a complete resource to help train you and your entire ministry team as you seek to grow and develop in life in ministry. Every single week, we provide a weekly toolkit which has all types of tools in it to help you do just that. Now you can find this at PastorServe.org/network. That’s PastorServe.org/network. And there you will find all of our shows, all of our episodes and all of our weekly toolkits. Now inside the toolkit are several tools including video links and audio links for you to share with your team. There are resource links to different resources and tools that were mentioned in the conversation, and several other tools, but the greatest thing is the ministry leaders growth guide. Our team pulls key insights and concepts from every conversation with our amazing guests. And then we also create engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process, providing space for you to reflect on how that episode’s topic relates to your unique context, at your local church, in your ministry and in your life. Now you can use these questions in your regular staff meetings to guide your conversation as you invest in the growth of your ministry leaders. You can find the weekly toolkit at PastorServe.org/network We encourage you to check out that free resource. Until next time, I’m Jason Daye encouraging you to love well, live well, and lead well. God bless.
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