Christianity 201

May 7, 2011

Taking it to the Next Level: Stress Relief

When you write a blog named Christianity 201, you expect each day to post items which will dig a little deeper for devotional or Bible study content.  But taking it to the next level for many people involves digging a little deeper in terms of the work that God wants to do down deep in our hearts; dealing with our own spiritual deficiencies and allowing God to do a work of inner healing in our lives.  Ideally, a blog like this would be a 50-50 split between deeper teaching and encouragement toward a deeper revolution in our hearts.

I was thinking about that tonight when reading Jeff Leake’s piece on Stress at his blog, The Launch Pad, which he called What’s Stressing You Out.

Yesterday, I was asked a question about staying healthy in ministry over the long-haul.  Basically the question was, ‘what have been the keys to dealing with stress and sustaining personal health in ministry over the past 20+ years of your life?’

There are two sources of stress:

EXTERNAL STRESSORS – some of these things can can attempt to control – our schedule, our pace, our priorities.  Some of these things we cannot control – our circumstances, the response of the people around us, the impact of events and happenings in our world.  There are some keys to managing external stressors:

  • Learning good time management skills.
  • Scheduling in a date nite, exercise, family time.
  • Keeping a sabbath (a day set aside unto God every week).
  • Developing a consistent devotional habit.
  • Learning what and how to delegate & how to manage people and systems.

INTERNAL STRESSORS – my sense is that it is the internals not the externals that stress us out the most –

  • What we believe about ourselves and about God
  • How we process criticism, failure, perceived rejection
  • Learning how to choose joy in the midst of trials
  • Giving ourselves time to grieve when loss happens in our life
  • Being able to forgive ourselves when we fail and access God’s forgiveness
  • Maintaining purity and accountability so that we are not unnecessarily weighed down by guilt and sin

The first ten years of my ministry I worked primarily on trying to master the management of the EXTERNALS – but I never really worked through some of the stress on the inside.  Several years back after the stress in my life caused boughts with migraines – I took the time and did the work to deal with the INTERNAL sources of my stress.

Both are necessary.  But I think my choice to rigorously deal with what was going on – on the inside has produced in me a greater degree of peace and the capacity for sustainability over the long-haul.  I say that with an awareness that this is something that you can never stop paying attention to and must continually depend on God for his sustaining grace.

~Jeff Leake

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