Sometimes ministry can be very stressful. It may be conflict with a staff member or a few of the elders. Or, perhaps you are under stress due to the church’s financial problems. Maybe there has been an incident in the church that has become very, very draining.
Sometimes when we become stressed, we either over-function or under-function. If I over-function, I may begin to feel like the solution to this problem is entirely up to me. There is a sense in which I feel like I am carrying the weight of this problem on my shoulders.
That can be a real problem, especially when I begin taking responsibility for the behavior of others. It is like a parent who feels guilty because her college student son (who is away from home studying at the university) makes poor grades. The college student is responsible for these grades, yet his mother is shouldering the anxiety for those grades herself. The mother seems to want good grades more than her son does.
Ministers and other church leaders who over-function often bear stress and anxiety that others ought to be carrying. Consequently, if someone drops the ball and does not follow through on their responsibility, these over-functioners will quickly fix the problem themselves (sometimes through clenched teeth). In times of great stress, the over-functioners often become incredibly exhausted and anxious.
Or, perhaps a person in the elder group over-functions. When members of the congregation come to that elder with their anxiety, he takes on the anxiety and they walk away.