Posted in: Emotional Health
Are You Distressed?
Self-Evaluation Tools for the Weary
By Scott Thomas
Michael Todd Wilson and Brad Hoffmann in their book, Preventing Ministry Failure provided a valuable test to evaluate a pastor’s level of stress.
Personally respond to each statement, using a scale of 0 to 3:
0=Rarely/Never feel this way
1=Occasionally/Sometimes feel this way
2=More often than not feel this way
3=Regularly/Frequently feel this way
Next, have a spouse or a close friend (someone who will be totally honest with you) rate you on the same items based on their perception of you. It doesn’t matter if you agree or disagree with their perception. Just ask of their honest opinion and accept it with humility. Often, others who care for us deeply will see us more objectively than we do.
Total each score at the bottom of its respective column.
- ____ I am exhausted and run down
- ____ I become easily frustrated
- ____ I have a tendency to be overly critical of others and/or myself
- ____ The less time I can spend with people, the better
- ____ If I could change my job, I would
- ____ I am spiritually numb
- ____ I am under constant pressure at work and/or home
- ____ I wonder why I’m even in ministry
- ____ I have no one I can share my problems with
- ____ I am spending more time reading, watching TV, sleeping or on the Internet
- ____ I have lost my interest for sex
- ____ I no longer spend time in hobbies I previously enjoyed
- ____ I use alcohol/prescription drugs/sleep aids to manage my moods/emotions
- ____ I don’t have a clear vision for what God has called me to do
- ____ I feel unappreciated by my family and/or those to whom I minister
- ____ I find myself working more and accomplishing less
- ____ I am enjoying my ministry less over time
- ____ I don’t spend time alone with God
- ____ I tend to harbor unresolved resentment or bitterness
- ____ I have become more egotistical or cocky over time
- ____ I feel sorry for myself
- ____ My desk is messy or disorganized
- ____ When I have a few moments to myself, I feel as if I have to be doing something
- ____ When responsibilities demand more time, I cut fun activities to get them done
- ____ I need to feel in control of my surroundings
- ____ I need to keep working on something until it is done right
- ____ I expect things of myself that are far beyond anyone else’s expectation of me
- ____ I need to be seen by others as well put together
- ____ My sense of humor is missing
- ____ I am not very flexible
- ____ I have a tendency to set unrealistic goals for myself and/or others
- ____ I have difficulty relaxing
- ____ I rarely take time off; when I do, it’s often for being sick
- ____ I tend to be an impulsive person and make decisions hastily
- ____ I hesitate over decisions, not wanting to make a mistake
- ____ I normally live in the extremes; it’s usually all or nothing with me
- ____ I may appear confident on the outside, but inside I feel insecure
- ____ Others have expressed a concern over my level of stress
- ____ I have activities into which I retreat to avoid negative feelings
- ____ I don’t know how I feel
____ Total Score (0-120)
Relatively healthy ministers, [according to the authors], will have a small total, typically less than 40. Larger totals should be reason for concern. There is not an arbitrary cutoff for “healthy.” Distress that remains unchecked grows slowly over time. Therefore, the larger the total the more you might want to be concerned about your general level of distress.
[Scott:] I did this test for myself recently and asked my wife to independently score what she thought my level of distress was with the same test. I totalled 54 and she scored me at 56. Then, we compared answers, especially the areas with a variance of two points, and we talked about the level of stress I may be feeling and how we can respond accordingly. Interestingly, I do not feel stressed and equally my wife feels as though I am in a healthy state of emotions. For me, a healthy score could be 50 or below (I do have room for improvement), while others may need to operate at a level of 40 or below. The most beneficial thing you can do is to honestly evaluate yourself and then discuss it with your spouse to determine in what areas of your life you are not living with the belief that Jesus is the most satisfying aspiration of your life and that you can rest (calmly) in your identity in Christ.
 Michael Todd Wilson and Brad Hoffman, Preventing Ministry Failure (Downers Grove, Illinois: IVP Books, 2007), p. 111-114.