67 min
By: ENC Leaders

Leading in Anxious Times: A Series Overview with Seth Trimmer

To lead in these times means confronting the anxiety in your own heart, recognizing how it’s causing you to act alongside others, letting Jesus walk with you through the difficult moments, and allowing the Spirit to transform you.

This is the video version of Episode 5 of the ENC Leadership Podcast, a conversation with Seth Trimmer, the lead pastor of Grace City Church in Corvallis, Oregon in the U.S.

Show notes:

God wants to bring about transformation. A big part of that is dealing with what’s going on in my heart, being honest about it, and letting God deal with it. Then the solution or the Spirit-led way will emerge.

5:00 – We are all in a relational system

  • We live in very individualized times. But Biblically, and even psychologically, a healthier way of looking at things is seeing that we are less individual beings and more relational beings. That means: “I can understand myself truly and only in the context of relationships.”
  • When you see things as relational systems, it doesn’t remove your personal responsibility—it increases it. It empowers you to think: What role am I playing or contributing to this mess? Only then can the relational system begin to transform.
  • Jesus entered the world and created a family system around Himself. But where Jesus is so different is that He did not let any of the unbelief, sin, fear, or anxiety leak into Him. He was a non-anxious, faithful presence in the world. And anyone who responds to His presence can become more like Him.
  • The major goal of Jesus’ life was to stay faithful to His Father and to remain unchanged in the world; to remain in the path His Father set for Him, while staying connected to people in the world. His faithfulness to this is what produced what we call “disciples.”
  • Each member in a relational system has a responsibility for their own presence in the system. If you are mindful of the role you have, you can be mindful of shifting the role to a healthier place. Once you start doing that, everyone else around you will counteract and counterbalance.
  • Ask yourself: What is me being a responsible member of this relational system and what is me taking responsibility for someone else’s role?
  • “Loving your neighbor as yourself” means being a responsible, faithful, and Spirit-responsive member in a relationship, who is loving other people well, and not just consuming them and living their part of the relationship for them.

19:55 – How anxiety shrinks our creativity and critical thinking

  • “If I did less in this situation, then things would get worse.” – What if you are a high-capacity person and think this way?
  • Anxiety drives us to either to over- or under-function. Anxiety says, “If I don’t over function, we aren’t going to get anything done.”
  • When I’m in anxiety, it shrinks my creativity. It makes me feel like my only options are to “overcompensate” or to “watch everything fall apart.” The truth is, there are other options available.
  • Anxiety takes us out of creative problem solving. It takes us out of faith to trust God for wisdom to manage difficult moments.

24:00 – Looking at the different levels of anxiety

  • Anxiety has different levels, and one of the levels is it’s an emotional response to a threat, whether real or perceived. This is our “Fight or Flight” response, but our situations are not always fight or flight.
  • There are roots of anxiety in Genesis 3, when human beings decided not to trust God and decided to trust themselves.
  • We are all a mixture of belief and unbelief. All the areas in my life where I have yet to completely trust Jesus, these areas leave a lingering, chronic anxiety in me.
  • Jesus is helping us to trust Him fully. When I become less anxious and trust Jesus more, that’s walking in the Spirit.

35:40 – A moment of anxiety in Genesis 3

  • Eve has a moment of anxiety, where all she’s ever known God to be is that He is good, but the serpent tells her otherwise. Because of her fear and anxiety that God isn’t trustworthy, placed by a sliver of doubt, she doesn’t take a step back. She focuses narrowly on the one tree God told her not to eat from. She becomes convinced that she needs the tree and she eats from it.
  • Eve started removing her trust from God and trusting the serpent. Anxiety narrows our vision, focus, creativity, and problem-solving ability. This is an underlying behavior we’ve had since.
  • There are things that we do, even if they look like they’re obedience to God, we’re doing it to control Him and to make sure that He continues to bless us.
  • We think, “If I do enough good, God is obligated to bless me.” Because I don’t believe that God would do this graciously, out of His own love and care for me.

44:25 – Pastor Seth talks about managing sources of anxiety from his personal experiences

  • We need to become Spirit-led in managing our anxiety. This is the real responsibility a leader has in any given moment.
  • Try asking: “How can I help?”
  • Anxiety makes you want to fix someone’s problem right away, when they likely want to be listened to with empathy and compassion. Trust that God is with them. You don’t have to carry them, just walk alongside them.

1:01 – Some tips to help us get started with recognizing our own anxieties

  • Acknowledge that all of us have some background anxiety. Be aware of how that looks in you. The goal isn’t to become purely non-anxious. The goal is to become aware and to become less anxious. Accept it as a journey that Jesus is leading you on.
  1. Be aware of how anxiety takes form in your life.
  2. “Name it to tame it” – Do you get angry, apathetic, passive-aggressive?
  3. Walk with people who you can share this with.
  4. Ask God, “What do you want me to with this anxiety? How can I respond to your Spirit rather than to my flesh?” – This is, in essence, repentance.
  5. Declare God’s truth over the lie. Watch the Holy Spirit regenerate you in that specific area of your life.
  • It’s a lifelong journey of: Truth, Repentance, Faith.

Other resources mentioned in this podcast episode:

  1. Church in the Wild Podcast by Seth Trimmer
  2. An Anxious World Part 2

The ENC Leadership Podcast is hosted by Joseph Bonifacio.

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