I know that for many people at the moment life seems really out of control. At the least, it is certainly different. The interesting thing is that while it’s not always possible to eliminate stress, it is possible to manage it. You see, it’s not a matter of how much stress you bear but how you carry it that will actually make the difference.
Jesus experienced enormous stress and pressure, and yet it didn’t seem to disturb His peace of mind. In spite of things that were stacked up against Him - opposition, constant demands, lack of privacy, personal threats - His life reflected a calm sense of balance and purpose. What was His secret? Well, take a closer look at His lifestyle that reveals to us a number of key “stressbusters”. In fact, with the following little list, you might think about pondering one of these each day over the coming week:
1. The Principle of Identification: Knowing Who You Are (John 8:12)
Eighteen times Jesus publicly defined Himself. Many of these statements are centred around the incredible words, “I am...” There was no doubt in His mind who He was.
If you are unsure of your identity then this will allow others to pressure you into their moulds and philosophies. Remember, trying to be someone you are not will cause you stress!
2. The Principle of Dedication: Knowing who you want to please (John 5:30)
You can’t please everyone. Even God can’t! Just about the time you get “Crowd A” happy, “Crowd B” will get upset with you. Jesus never let the fear of rejection manipulate Him, so remember, no-one can pressure you without your permission.
3. The Principle of Organisation: Set clear goals (John 8:14)
“I know where I came from and I know where I am going.” Now, I don’t know if you have come to realise this, but preparation prevents pressure while procrastination produces it. You will be someone who works either with priorities or with pressures. I know the kind of person I want to be!
4. The Principle of Concentration: Focus on one thing at a time (Luke 4:42-44)
My dad used to say to me when I was much younger and out hunting with him that you can’t chase two rabbits at the same time! Jesus knew how to handle interruptions without being distracted from His primary goal. Keep your focus sharp and in the right direction.
5. The Principle of Delegation: Don’t try to do everything (Mark 3:14)
We get tense when we feel like it all depends on us. Jesus enlisted 12 disciples, so don’t allow perfectionism, or the fear that others may do a better job, to keep you from involving others in the task. This will not only preserve and energise you, but it will release passion in others too.
6. The Principle of Meditation: Make a habit of prayer in your life (Mark 1:35)
No matter how busy Jesus got, He found time to get alone to pray everyday. A daily time alone with God is a great stress decompression chamber. So use this time to talk to Him about your pressures and problems, to honour and praise Him, to evaluate your priorities, and to discover His rules for successful living that will come as you spend time with Him and in His Word.
7. The Principle of Relaxation: Take time to enjoy life! (Mark 6:30-31)
Balance is the key to stress management. Work must be balanced with fun and worship. Mars Confectionery came up with one of the great advertising slogans when they promoted that “A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play”. I am not so sure that a Mars Bar will achieve that completely for you, but a balanced life certainly will! Find that balance and find it together with God.
Spend some time thinking over these stressbusters. Maybe one or two will carry greater wait for you at the moment than the others. But in all of this, give yourself to God and to His shaping of your life.
Have a great week … and remember to keep firing for Jesus!