Five Ways Worry Can Be Helpful

We typically think that worry is a bad habit. But there is a good worry and a bad worry. Bad worry leads you to check out or become hyper-vigilant. Your “fight or flight” instincts are in overdrive when you are doing bad worry. That is usually what we mean when we use the word “worry.” We tend to see it as negative. Good worry, though, allows you to remain engaged, dependent upon God and prayerful. We have come to use other words to describe this kind of worry, like “concern.” It is important to know the difference. So, how do you know when you are engaging in “good” worry? Here are five things you should “worry” about in a good way.

1. Worry is not the same as concern.

If worry is “over-concern,” then it is different from “concern”. It is appropriate to be concerned about things. What Jesus is forbidding is “over-concern,” and not concern, itself.

When my oldest child was beginning to drive, I had legitimate concerns, because I was well aware of how dangerous driving could be if not properly prepared. So I acted as any responsible parent would; I made sure she received appropriate driver training. (I was wise enough to get a professional and not take on the task myself!). And I prayed for her (and for the other road users!).

That was godly concern. It leads to wise action and dependent prayer. Similarly, this is why I lock my doors to our house and pray that God will keep the place safe. There are many other examples from our daily lives which can flow from proper, godly concern: regular doctor checkups, balancing your finances, preparing for a child’s college education, getting your car serviced regularly. Jesus is not telling us not to be concerned about things. He is telling us not to be over-concerned. The two are not the same, and you can recognize the difference because concern takes wise action and prays dependently. Worry, or over-concern, thinks and acts as though everything is either up to you or completely out of control, and prays desperately, if at all.

2. The solution to worry is not becoming laid-back.

The answer to “over-concern” is not “under-concern.” The antidote to “over-concern” is not just being a lazy or “laid-back” person. Often times, being disengaged and indifferent can masquerade as godliness when in fact it is not. We all know laid-back people. Maybe you are one yourself. It can seem a wonderful way to live! But it is worth digging below the laid-back surface. Consider these three very different “laid back” people:

First, a person who is laid-back on the outside can still be a deeply worried person on the inside. They mask their anxiety by acting cool and collected. People like this tend to be driven, prickly and overly sensitive.

Second, a laid-back person can also be a deep worrier and one who has chosen to disengage and become indifferent. These kinds of worriers tend to be procrastinators. They avoid life.

Finally, someone can seem very calm and laid-back, but in fact they are deeply engaged with and invested in others’ lives and situations. They care deeply and passionately; and they are taking their worries to God and depending upon him as they face life’s challenges.

Those are three very different ways to be “laid-back.” The first two are not the answer to worry; and the third is not laid-back so much as God-dependent. The Christian life is one of complete engagement, not disengagement. In the same book where Paul talks about not being anxious for anything (Philippians 4:6), he also says, “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12-13), and “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12).

3. Work is not necessarily an expression of worry.

Another common error is to think that the way to avoid worry is to become passive, and simply look to God to provide for all of your needs. Jesus’ illustrations about birds and plants might seem to suggest that passivity is next to godliness! Nothing could be further from the truth. God may provide food for the birds, but they have to actively go and get it. Plants do not automatically grow; they must draw on the nutrients in the soil and sun. So working hard is not necessarily (or even often) an expression of worry. In fact, it is a virtue. The fourth commandment says, Six days you shall labor and on the seventh you shall rest. In 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, Paul says:

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: you should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

And he warns in 2 Thessalonians 3:10: The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat. You can’t get more straightforward than that! So clearly, Jesus is not saying that we are to stop all activities and sit idly by while life happens around us. (Of course, overworking could be a sign that we are deeply, chronically over-concerned; but it is not automatically so). See also, Proverbs 6:6-11 and I Timothy 5:8.

4. Protecting yourself is not the same as worry.

It is important to understand that godly fear and concern for your safety and the safety of others is not the same as the “worry” that Jesus is commanding us to avoid. Suppose that you are driving on a highway at night and you see another car heading toward you. A godly response would be to do whatever you can to steer your car to avoid an accident. Or suppose you are currently fearful for your own safety, or the safety of another person, because you have reason to believe that someone is going to harm you or them. You would be completely justified in doing whatever you can to protect yourself and others from harm. We read in the Gospels of how Jesus himself avoided the crowds who wanted to harm him because he knew he had more work and ministry to do (Luke 4:28-30).

If you are reading this and you are in a situation where you might be abused or harmed, then take action now to protect yourself. Call a friend or a pastor. If you are being threatened by your spouse, a parent, or anyone else, it would be wise and loving to contact an abuse center or the police. That is an expression of godly concern. I want to say as strongly as I can: it is not wrong to take action and seek help if you’re suffering or fearing abuse of any kind.

5. Saving and planning for the future is not necessarily an expression of worry.

Another common mistake that people have made when thinking about worry is to neglect or even frown upon putting money away for savings. Having a strong portfolio and significant savings may be an expression of worry and placing one’s confidence in finances and wealth, but it does not have to be. Consider Proverbs 6:6-11:

Living without worry
By Timothy Lane
Go the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in the summer and gathers its food at harvest. How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest---and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.

If you consider the context of Jesus’ teaching on worry in Luke 12:22-34 and Matthew 6:25-34, the obvious issue that Jesus is addressing is: which treasure are you looking to for strength and stability? The parable of the Rich Fool precedes Jesus’ teaching on worry in Luke 12:13-21. The idea of ultimate treasure precedes Jesus’ teaching on worry in Matthew 6:19-24.

Previous posts in this series:

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Tim Lane

Dr. Timothy S. Lane is the President of the Institute for Pastoral Care and has a counseling practice in Fayetteville, GA. He is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), having been ordained in 1991 and a member of Metro-Atlanta Presbytery. Tim has authored Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace, and co-authored How People Change and Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. He has written several mini-books including PTSD, Forgiving Others, Sex Before Marriage, Family Feuds, Conflict, and Freedom From Guilt.

He has experience in both campus ministry (University of Georgia, 1984-1987) and pastoral ministry where he served as a pastor in Clemson, SC from 1991 until 2001. Beginning in 2001 until 2013, he served as a counselor and faculty at a counseling organization  in Philadelphia, PA. Beginning in 2007, he served as its Executive Director until 2013.

In 2014, Tim and his family re-located to his home state, Georgia, where he formed the non profit ministry the Institute for Pastoral Care. His primary desire and commitment is to help pastors and leaders create or improve their ability to care for the people who attend their churches. For more information about this aspect of Tim's work, please visit the section of this site for the Institute for Pastoral Care. He continues to write, speak and travel both nationally and internationally. Tim is adjunct professor of practical theology at several seminaries where he teaches about pastoral care in the local church.

What Exactly Is Anxiety?

Anxiety and Modern Research

What is worry? In the first blog we discussed the experience of worry and in the second we addressed the multi-layered potential shaping influences that impact the degree to which we may struggle with anxiety. But what exactly is anxiety/worry? How do you begin to define it?

Let’s begin with the advent of modern psychology and psychiatry. A great deal of empirical research has been done over the past century. While these disciplines are quite young in many ways, they have proven to generate a wealth of observable data. When Christians stop and listen to the research, they are able to wisely engage rather than dismiss it out of hand. The following definition is an excerpt taken from the DSM Psychiatry Online Website:

Anxiety disorders include disorders that share features of excessive fear and anxiety and related behavioral disturbances. Fear is the emotional response to real or perceived imminent threat, whereas anxiety is anticipation of future threat. Obviously, these two states overlap, but they also differ, with fear more often associated with surges of autonomic arousal necessary for fight or flight, thoughts of immediate danger, and escape behaviors, and anxiety more often associated with muscle tension and vigilance in preparation for future danger and cautious or avoidant behaviors. Sometimes the level of fear or anxiety is reduced by pervasive avoidance behaviors. Panic attacks feature prominently within the anxiety disorders as a particular type of fear response. Panic attacks are not limited to anxiety disorders but rather can be seen in other mental disorders as well.

Here is a list of classifications of worry that can be found in the most current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V (DSM V). Where possible, screening questions from Allen Frances’ book, Essentials of Psychiatric Diagnosis, are included in italics:

  • Separation Anxiety Disorder: Is your child inordinately scared of separations?
  • Selective Mutism: the voluntary refusal to speak (typically occurring outside the home or immediate family).
  • Specific Phobia: Do you have a particular fear that causes you special trouble, like flying, heights, closed places, animals, seeing blood, or getting an injection?
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia): Do you frequently avoid social situations because you are afraid of doing something stupid or looking silly?
  • Panic Disorder: Have you ever had a panic attack?
  • Panic Attack Specifier: A panic attack associated with a certain trigger (social anxiety, etc.).
  • Agoraphobia: Are there many things you’re afraid to do and many places you’re afraid to go?
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Are you a ‘worry-wart,’ unnecessarily anxious all the time about a lot of different things?
  • Substance/Medication-Induced Anxiety Disorder: Have you had a lot of anxiety symptoms associated with using drugs, drinking alcohol or coffee, taking medication, or withdrawing from drugs or medication?
  • Anxiety Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition: Have you had symptoms of anxiety in association with a medical condition, like and overactive thyroid?
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Do you ever have weird thoughts that you can’t get out of your mind? Are there rituals you can’t resist doing over and over and over and over again?
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: Have you experienced a traumatic event that keeps haunting you in terrible memories, flashbacks, or nightmares?

Below is a helpful chart that compares “normal” anxiety and “abnormal” anxiety.

Everyday anxiety or an anxiety disorder?

What are we to make of this information?

While this is a very brief representation of the data, it still begs the question, "How can we engage this information and learn from it?" Here are some initial thoughts:

  1. We can certainly learn a great deal from this descriptive material. When someone tells you that they are struggling with anxiety, it is not uncommon to assume you know what they mean. You often extrapolate from your own experience of anxiety or others whom you have helped in the past. But that would be a mistake. These various descriptions help you to see how complex each and every person’s struggle with anxiety can be. The data teaches us to be more curious and to ask more questions as we get to know the particular contours of a person's struggle.
     
  2. If you are not careful, it may seem like the person who is high-functioning with “everyday” anxiety is normal and okay. Yet, biblically, every person is in need of God’s help no matter how seemingly small or big the problem. In the chart above, the person in the left column needs to be as vigilant about their low-grade anxiety as the person with a more intense struggle. No matter where you fall on the worry continuum, each and every person should be asking these questions on a daily basis. We will see why this is so important when we begin to see how Scripture defines worry.
  • “How can I love God and neighbor more fully regardless of my level of struggle with anxiety?"
  • “How can I be more and more conformed into the likeness of Jesus?”
Living without worry
By Timothy Lane

3. It might be tempting to think that the person who is high-functioning has a deeper faith than the person who struggles more intensely. But that is not necessarily so. Someone who struggles more intensely with anxiety may actually have a more robust faith than the person whose struggle is less. The Scriptures remind us again and again that the weak know their need of God’s grace while the “strong” may be falsely self-confident and self-reliant.

4. Finally, you may conclude that these diagnoses are similar to a medical diagnosis. You might conclude that the person “has” a psychopathology in the same way a person has a medical pathology or disease. While there may be an organic aspect to the person’s struggle, the DSM V categories are largely, if not only, descriptive. They are describing thoughts and behaviors that are observable. The cause may be largely unknown.

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below. In the next post, we will begin to see how Scripture defines anxiety.

Copyright © 2016 Timothy S. Lane

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Tim Lane

Dr. Timothy S. Lane is the President of the Institute for Pastoral Care and has a counseling practice in Fayetteville, GA. He is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), having been ordained in 1991 and a member of Metro-Atlanta Presbytery. Tim has authored Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace, and co-authored How People Change and Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. He has written several mini-books including PTSD, Forgiving Others, Sex Before Marriage, Family Feuds, Conflict, and Freedom From Guilt.

He has experience in both campus ministry (University of Georgia, 1984-1987) and pastoral ministry where he served as a pastor in Clemson, SC from 1991 until 2001. Beginning in 2001 until 2013, he served as a counselor and faculty at a counseling organization  in Philadelphia, PA. Beginning in 2007, he served as its Executive Director until 2013.

In 2014, Tim and his family re-located to his home state, Georgia, where he formed the non profit ministry the Institute for Pastoral Care. His primary desire and commitment is to help pastors and leaders create or improve their ability to care for the people who attend their churches. For more information about this aspect of Tim's work, please visit the section of this site for the Institute for Pastoral Care. He continues to write, speak and travel both nationally and internationally. Tim is adjunct professor of practical theology at several seminaries where he teaches about pastoral care in the local church.

What Causes Us To Worry?

Everyone worries. Some of us more than others. Reports show that nearly 20% of people living in the US struggle with anxiety. That means that approximately 65 million people experience worry that impacts their daily lives and relationships in profound ways.

In 2008, American physicians wrote more than 50 million prescriptions for specifically anti-anxiety medications and more than 150 million for antidepressants, many of which were used for anxiety-related conditions.

Causes for Worry

So why do so many of us struggle with anxiety? That question has been at the center of much debate. The pendulum has swung from one extreme to the other throughout history. Some have thought that worry is purely a physiological issue while others have concluded that it is purely spiritual. Alan Horwitz states this in his book, Anxiety: A Short History:

Between the fourth and sixteenth centuries, religious, magical, and folkloric views of anxiety and other mental conditions largely displaced empirically-based Hippocratic and Galenic conceptions in Western societies. While the latter beliefs persisted within medicine through the medieval period, medical knowledge itself was overridden by ecclesiastical structures. Over the course of the seventeenth century, however, anxiety was once again increasingly likely to be viewed within a medical, as opposed to spiritual, framework. Within medicine, the influences of humoral pathology, which had dominated medical thinking since Hippocratic times, gradually waned. By the end of the eighteenth century, while humoral conceptions remained popular theories of temperaments in the general culture, medicine preferred physiological accounts to explain how mental disturbances resulted from malfunctioning nervous systems (p. 54).

While Horowitz’s view of the church may be oversimplified, we still must ask: what causes anxiety? Does the Bible provide categories that enable us to avoid the swinging pendulum between faith and science? I believe it does.

The historic Christian categories of World, Flesh and Devil are entirely capable of providing a robust understanding of people and their problems, allowing us to avoid simplistic reductionism on either end of the spectrum. We don’t have to engage in either/or thinking and conclude that anxiety is either purely physiological or only spiritual. This means that we can learn from the best insights that modern science has to offer along with the rich truths of Scripture which remind us that God is able to meet us in our struggles with worry.

Below is a simple diagram that captures the many shaping influences that may be relevant to any particular person’s struggle with worry.

World

The category of “world” is everything outside of the heart. These are the external shaping influences that we experience as human beings made in God’s image. It is the person’s situation; their context. To minimize the impact someone’s circumstances has on a person is to be sub-biblical. The God of Scripture takes our situation seriously. This is a place where we can learn most from modern scientific research:

  • Brain: we all have brains that determine our personalities and pre-dispose us to a host of struggles. All of us are constitutionally wired differently. Our brains are also impacted by the fall of humanity. We are all broken at some level and exhibit various mental strengths and frailties.
  • Body: we have bodies that have strengths and weaknesses. They too are broken in different ways and impact how we respond to difficulty.
  • Event and Relational History: we have good and bad things that have happened to us along with people who have blessed us or hurt us.
  • Political/Cultural/Socio-economic Context: we exist in a context that impacts the degree to which we may struggle with worry.
  • Gender: our gender plays a role in how we struggle with worry.
  • Religious Upbringing: the beliefs that shaped us growing up influence our struggle with worry.
  • Age: the longer we live, the more grief and loss we experience. This can make us wiser or more prone to anxiety.
  • Race/Ethnicity: whether we are the majority or minority culture in a given context will also shape the way we experience anxiety.

This list is not exhaustive. You may be able to think of other external shaping influences. Each one can be nuanced to fit every person who has ever lived. No two people are alike.

While we take all of this seriously, it is important to note something interesting about the struggle with anxiety. While appreciating one’s context, changing one’s context does not guarantee that you will live a worry free life.

Once again, Alan Horwitz states this in his book, Anxiety: A Short History:

Modern developed societies are the safest, healthiest, and most prosperous that have ever existed so we might expect that their citizens would have low levels of anxiousness….
Nevertheless, surveys inform us that the public reports more anxiety disorders now than in the past. These studies indicate that anxiety is the single most common class of mental illness; almost one in five people has had an anxiety disorder during the past year and more than a quarter of the population experienced one at some point in their lives (p. 143).

Certainly there is nothing wrong with changing your circumstances if you are in danger, but situational change does not mean you will be anxiety free. There is a need for more.

Flesh/Heart

This category factors in the reality that we were created by God to worship and trust in him in the midst of our circumstances, no matter what they are. This is where the Bible focuses most of its attention. It does so, not because it is simplistic, but because it offers something that no other theory of change offers; a personal, loving, redeeming God who becomes a human being, lives, dies and is raised from the dead to give us new life, wisdom and power to live in relationship with him! The Bible does not minimize the category of “world” at all. Yet it does call us to depend upon and trust in God in the midst of our joys and sorrows.

Devil

This category is factored into the Biblical worldview because it recognizes that evil is real and personal. While most attention is focused on the other two categories, the Bible does clearly state that we have one who is opposed to God’s people and he seeks to tempt and accuse those who follow Christ. In Ephesians 6:10-20, the apostle Paul gives clear instruction on how to fight the schemes of the Evil One. When this category is improperly over-emphasized, it can lead people to look for demons in every pathology. When it is improperly under-emphasized, it can lead people to miss the real battle that is part and parcel of the Christian life.

Modern psychology and psychiatry attempt to capture the multi-layeredness of people and their problems by talking about the bio/psycho/socio/cultural aspects of causation. The Biblical worldview allows us to take those categories seriously along with painting an even fuller, more nuanced picture. Whether the church has always represented this level of nuance is something to debate, but the Scriptures are clear.

Patience and Compassion

One of the most relevant aspects of understanding these three categories is to fully appreciate the multi-layered nature of anxiety. When we do this, we can understand why some people may struggle more than others. The more layers that are involved, the greater the struggle and the harder it may be to change.

If you struggle with severe anxiety, this can help you calibrate your expectations and not live under a cloud of shame because of your struggle.

If you are someone who is helping someone who struggles deeply, these categories can move you to greater empathy and compassion. They can also help you see that, even in the midst of a struggle with anxiety, the living, redeeming God wants to meet you in your troubles and comfort you and walk with you.

Copyright © 2016 Timothy S. Lane

Comment

Tim Lane

Dr. Timothy S. Lane is the President of the Institute for Pastoral Care and has a counseling practice in Fayetteville, GA. He is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), having been ordained in 1991 and a member of Metro-Atlanta Presbytery. Tim has authored Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace, and co-authored How People Change and Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. He has written several mini-books including PTSD, Forgiving Others, Sex Before Marriage, Family Feuds, Conflict, and Freedom From Guilt.

He has experience in both campus ministry (University of Georgia, 1984-1987) and pastoral ministry where he served as a pastor in Clemson, SC from 1991 until 2001. Beginning in 2001 until 2013, he served as a counselor and faculty at a counseling organization  in Philadelphia, PA. Beginning in 2007, he served as its Executive Director until 2013.

In 2014, Tim and his family re-located to his home state, Georgia, where he formed the non profit ministry the Institute for Pastoral Care. His primary desire and commitment is to help pastors and leaders create or improve their ability to care for the people who attend their churches. For more information about this aspect of Tim's work, please visit the section of this site for the Institute for Pastoral Care. He continues to write, speak and travel both nationally and internationally. Tim is adjunct professor of practical theology at several seminaries where he teaches about pastoral care in the local church.

Are You Stressed Out?

There are three major issues we all face; anger, addiction, and anxiety. We all struggle with irritation and anger. We all deal with worry and anxiety. And we all find places other than God to find comfort when life is hard. When talking about addiction, Gerald Mays, in his book Addiction and Grace, says, “To be alive is to be addicted, and to be alive and addicted is to stand in need of grace.”

I think the same can be said about stress, worry and anxiety. To be alive is to be anxious and to be alive and anxious is to stand in need of grace!

Synonyms for Anxiety

Take a moment and think of all the words that we use to describe the experience of anxiety. Here are a few:

  • Fretting
  • Discontentment
  • Obsessing
  • Stressing out
  • Feeling angst
  • Worrying
  • Fear
  • Loss of control
  • Over-concern
  • Panic
  • Restlessness
  • Insecurity

That’s just a start!

The Experience of Anxiety

What about the experience of anxiety? What words come to mind when you think about when you are worried?

  • Heavy burden on your chest or back
  • Anger
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Racing thoughts
  • Fixated
  • Feeling out of control
  • Self-focused
  • Tunnel vision
  • Sickness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Uncontrollable breathing
  • Withdrawn
  • Sleeplessness
  • Dry mouth
  • Melt-down
  • Trapped
  • Excessive emotions
  • Agitated
  • Isolated

Here is how two experts describe the experience of anxiety:

Mental and physical bodily functions find in anxiety a meeting place that is unparalleled in other aspects of human life.

– John Nehemiah

Anxiety is often exhibited through disturbances in cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and/or musculoskeletal systems...anxiety derives from the Indo-Germanic root, ANGH, which means narrowing, constricting, and tightening feelings, usually in the chest or throat. In such cases, people might not be consciously aware of the anxiousness, although it is being expressed through stomach aches, heart palpitations, difficulties in breathing, and the like.

– Allan Horwitz, Anxiety, A Short History

If you are honest, you can identify with these descriptions.

I remember when I was a pastor, my neck would seize up about every six months. The stress of pastoral ministry was exhibiting its presence in muscle spasms. I have also experienced lower back pain and elevated blood pressure during a stressful season, as well as many other physiological signs that are a part of the experience of worry. Because of anxiety’s physiological impact, it can even threaten to shorten our lives!

Can Scripture Comfort the Anxious?

I would like to focus on two short verses as a way of introducing how Scripture begins to speak to the anxious.

Matthew 6:34

Sometimes reading this entire (6:25-34) passage can actually increase your anxiety! It doesn’t seem like Jesus is being very tender in his tone. On several occasions in this short section he commands us not to worry. Let’s focus on just one thing in the last sentence of verse 34.

Each day has enough trouble of its own.

In his brief and simple words, Jesus offers comfort. What is Jesus acknowledging in verse 34? Each day has enough trouble of its own. He is acknowledging that it makes sense to worry. We live in a very troubled world. The longer you live, the more you understand that there are no guarantees. Life is fragile. We all struggle with worry. It is not just a struggle for a small select group. Some may worry more than others, but all of us experience it.

Hebrews 2:17

For this reason, he had to be made like his brothers in every way. In order that he might become a merciful high priest…

Living without worry
By Timothy Lane

Jesus was made like us in EVERY way. Though he was without sin, he identified with our suffering and much more. Because he became a human being, he understands our struggle. He has experienced more sorrow and stress than anyone, and he promises to be empathetic towards us in our stress and anxiety.

Right Now

Take a moment right now and look over your life; your childhood, teenage years, young adulthood, marriage, family and later adulthood. Take a moment to reflect on these various seasons of your life as you meditate on these two verses. Let these verses inform how you talk to Jesus as you draw near to him and as he comforts you with his grace, power and presence.

Copyright © 2016 Timothy S. Lane

Comment

Tim Lane

Dr. Timothy S. Lane is the President of the Institute for Pastoral Care and has a counseling practice in Fayetteville, GA. He is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), having been ordained in 1991 and a member of Metro-Atlanta Presbytery. Tim has authored Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace, and co-authored How People Change and Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. He has written several mini-books including PTSD, Forgiving Others, Sex Before Marriage, Family Feuds, Conflict, and Freedom From Guilt.

He has experience in both campus ministry (University of Georgia, 1984-1987) and pastoral ministry where he served as a pastor in Clemson, SC from 1991 until 2001. Beginning in 2001 until 2013, he served as a counselor and faculty at a counseling organization  in Philadelphia, PA. Beginning in 2007, he served as its Executive Director until 2013.

In 2014, Tim and his family re-located to his home state, Georgia, where he formed the non profit ministry the Institute for Pastoral Care. His primary desire and commitment is to help pastors and leaders create or improve their ability to care for the people who attend their churches. For more information about this aspect of Tim's work, please visit the section of this site for the Institute for Pastoral Care. He continues to write, speak and travel both nationally and internationally. Tim is adjunct professor of practical theology at several seminaries where he teaches about pastoral care in the local church.