Connect, Lead, Equip: Ways to Handle Stress as a Christian Leader
Stress is a reality for everyone in our personal and work lives. Heightened irritability, shortness of breath, a clenched jaw, muscle pain and tightness, problems swallowing, feelings of anxiety or depression, gastrointestinal upset, rapid or pounding heartbeat, and appetite changes are just a few of the many symptoms of stress. It’s something we all face that impacts us significantly. It infiltrates our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual beings.
What is the cause of stress? We may hear “well, just relax!” or “don’t be so stressed out.” Yet, is it that simple? Just stop? In order to learn how to be more relaxed and less stressed we need to understand the cause of stress. Physiologically, the body responds in a “stress” fashion (fight, flight, or freeze response) when there is a real or perceived threat. This could be a threat to one’s well-being, sense of satisfaction, financial state, physical, mental, or emotional safety. Threats occur when a situation or state of being goes beyond one’s ability to cope (Czabala & Miedzuin, 2015).1 Stress can be overwhelming.
So, how do we deal with stress? What is the secret? We need to take care of ourselves personally and spiritually. We need to take time to “rest” in Jesus. How do we do that? How can we receive the gift of rest from Jesus?
2 Ways to Handle Stress:
- We quiet ourselves –
We find rest through prayer (expressing our hopes, dreams, sorrows, disappointments, struggles, confusion, anger, and all that is going on in our mind and heart). We thoughtfully read the Scriptures, think about Him, and reflect on what He is saying for our own lives.
- We worship –
We need to remind ourselves of His awesome character. We can sing to Him, listen to music, journal our thoughts and prayers, etc. When we’re stressed, weary, and feeling overwhelmed, it’s a calling card for us to “sit with Jesus.” We need to do so until we find calm in our souls. It’s an indication that somewhere we are out of sync with God’s design and plan for us. We’re out of alignment.
When we have the drift of irritability in our lives, when we’re busy with many things but not with the course God has for us, when the vibrations of stress and dis-ease in our souls are mounting, the only way to get “fixed” is to stop and spend time with Jesus to find “rest.” This is key to maintaining courage, strength, and stamina in our personal lives, but also in work. In thoughtful quiet times when we stop so much activity, pray, reflect on Scripture, and meditate, our world doesn’t change, but we change. We’re refreshed and able to address the issues of life in a stronger way with better balance and a better attitude.
So, what we need to do is look at the weekly calendar of our lives and build in our “rest times.” When will we “come to Jesus?” What day and time will we “receive rest?” If we say, “I don’t have time,” then we’re at risk of drying out. What is most important in life crumbles and collapses.
“As for God, his way is perfect: The Lord’s word is flawless,” (Psalm 18:30, NIV).
Submission to God’s design means to discover a well-ordered life that experiences deep moments of inner satisfaction amid the chaos and burdens of life that surround us.
If we’re stressing and freaking out in life, then we need rest. We need to ask, “am I ready to let God be the director, the solver, and the center of my life?” Are we willing to get started?
- Czesław Czabała and Patrycja Miedziun, “Stress Management Techniques,” Archives of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy 17, no. 4 (2015): , doi:10.12740/app/61082.