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Steve Cuss: The Anxiety That Is Unique to Church Leaders

dealing with anxiety

Steve Cuss is the lead pastor of Discovery Christian Church just outside of Denver, Colorado. He has a heart for ministry leaders and understands the pressures they experience when it comes to dealing with anxiety. Steve has spent many years helping leaders and their teams find freedom from unhealthy patterns. He is the author of the book, Managing Leadership Anxiety, in addition to hosting a podcast of the same name. Steve is married to Lisa and they have two sons and one daughter. 

Key Questions for Steve Cuss About Dealing with Anxiety

-What do you mean by “leadership anxiety” in contrast to plain anxiety? Why do we need to differentiate between the two when dealing with anxiety?

-How does dealing with anxiety relate to our desire to perform well?

-What are some tools and practices pastors can use to better manage leadership anxiety?

-How can we as ministry leaders help those around us with their anxiety?

Key Quotes from Steve Cuss

“My first ministry role out of college was as a trauma chaplain…I was 24 and I had never seen a dead body, I had never had any real experience with grief, and that was definitely the year that showed me how much anxiety I carry and how much anxiety actually I think all church leaders carry.”

“Sometimes I would be really surprised by the way anxiety would show up.”

“I think church leadership puts us under tremendous pressure, every one of us.”

“What caught me off-guard is how much I learned as a chaplain translated into local church ministry.”

“Chronic anxiety happens anytime we don’t get what we believe we need in any given moment.”

“If somebody sends you a critical email or if you’re about to go into a board meeting and you know that you’re anxious about it, leadership anxiety is the deficit that you’re carrying when you’re not getting what you think you need.”

“My thesis is that what causes church pastors to burn out has way more to do with chronic anxiety, or leadership anxiety, than it ever does with how much is on your plate. It’s usually because you’re a people pleaser and there’s just been too much criticism and it’s really putting pressure on your people pleasing.”

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Jason serves as the Chief Strategy Officer at PastorServe, a ministry committed to strengthening the Church by serving pastors through personal coaching and church consulting. He also hosts FrontStage BackStage, a podcast and YouTube show, that helps pastors embrace healthy, well-balanced leadership as they develop a sustainable rhythm for life and ministry. Prior to joining the PastorServe team, Jason served as Vice President of Ministry Mobilization at Outreach, Inc., and as the Executive Director of the National Back to Church Sunday movement. Additionally, Jason served for nearly two decades in pastoral leadership, primarily as a lead pastor, in several contexts, including church plant re-launch, multisite church, multiethnic urban church, and an established suburban church. His experience as a lead pastor has provided numerous opportunities to coach and mentor pastors across the country. Jason and his beautiful wife, Monica, are the proud parents of six children and live on Anastasia Island, Florida. @jasondaye