How do we deal with stress?
If we’re honest, we need to recognize that stress is actually about what’s going on in the inside, not what’s going on in the outside. Certainly there are things on the outside, external issues, challenges, problems at work and family that cause or generate stress. But the stress actually happens inside us.
I discovered in a time of reflection last week that some internal stress is caused because we think we can control those externals. We think control is how it ought to be and we should be able to fix everything that needs fixing and control what needs controlling.
In a sense, some of that stress is thinking that by holding on to the issue in our mind, worrying and thinking about it, that we’re somehow helping fix it. We somehow feel that to carry the load on the inside somehow fixes something the outside. It’s a little bit abstract, but I hope you get what I’m saying. We tend to hold onto these things on the inside and think that somehow we’re addressing it.
I’ve concluded that as followers of Jesus we need to first of all rest in his finished work. Rest in the certainty of salvation in eternity and in his provision day to day. And from that place of rest, follow his leading in our various roles, in the different callings he has for us. That’s what we’re called to be and that’s what we’re called to do, no more. We’re not called to hold on to issues that are not ours to hold on to.
I’ve pastored several churches, particularly in this transitional role over a short period of time. I’ve actually pastored five churches in the last eight years or so because of the short-term transitional assignments. If you’ve pastored numerous churches, you understand how you tend to carry the load from a previous church for a few years afterwards.
What I can find myself doing if I’m not careful is carrying the load from all five churches right now. Even from churches I pastored before as a regular pastor; when you hear something that’s going on, somebody calls, or you get some news about something that’s happening. It’s easy to begin to try fix it just by thinking about it and by obsessing about it.
Of course, yes, we can pray about it but that’s the exact opposite of obsessing about it. We’re told to cast our cares on him because he cares for us. That’s what it means to pray rather than holding onto those cares, to cast them on him.
As I try to sum this thought up for myself, as well as anybody else, is not to take responsibility for the things that aren’t ours to take responsibility for. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking we’re accomplishing anything whatsoever by holding onto some situation in our mind, rolling it around, strategizing and obsessing about it when it’s not ours to address anyway.
If there’s something big enough to worry about, it’s big enough to pray about. We need to learn to hand it off, and yes I’m preaching to myself in this, holding onto an idea or a problem on the inside and wrestling with it fixes nothing.
We either need to take action, if it’s within our locus of influence, or we need to hand it off to the Lord and trust him to work through the people who are actually responsible for those situations. Whatever the situation is, church, family or finances; we shouldn’t carry a load that’s not ours.
Hope this made a little bit of sense. Have an outstanding day. Press on.