Weekly Thought – September 13, 2022
Fred thrived on analyzing the human condition. One of his favorite topics was stress. He read broadly on the subject and created frameworks for handling negative pressures. He was quick to offer gratitude as the strongest antidote.
We all have pressure. In my experience I see people choosing one of six ways to handle pressure:
1) Deny it: this is immature and shallow, but often chosen as the preferred option;
2) Be overcome by it: allow the circumstances to paralyze and short-circuit thought processes. One of my favorite lines is from Prof Hendricks of Dallas Theological Seminary who responded to a whining student’s reason for incomplete work: “Prof, I did the best I could under the circumstances.” Prof’s reply: “Son, what are you doing under there?”
3) Relieve it: a common approach leading to alcoholism, infidelity, and various addictions. It is a temporary fix with permanent consequences;
4) Classify it: This one is a particular favorite of mine. Identify whether it is vertical stress which focuses concentration and pulls us together or horizontal which pulls us apart and is destructive;
5) Rejoice in it: Christians learn to expect pressure and ask what can be learned, not how to avoid it;
6) Use it: the greatest energies can come from redirecting the pressure from negative to positive.
My first reaction to stress is: Don’t Panic. I have great admiration for race car drivers. There is a part of me which vicariously takes those turns and flies down the straight aways. One of the greatest lessons I learned from watching them – and talking with them at Indy one year: Don’t Panic.
The amount of stress, it has been shown, has a lot to do with the feeling of being out of control. Dr. Kenneth Greenspan, Director of the Center for Stress-Related Disorders at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center said, “How stressful it (a situation) will be, depends upon the sense of control, or mastery of the situation.”
Executive stress has been called one of the most debilitating medical and social problems in America today. The Christian faith should have good answers for this. For example, our trust in the adequacy of Christ should take us above the current stress. Oswald Chambers always says, “Sit loose to things.” This has helped me tremendously. Twice in my consulting career mergers cancelled my primary client accounts – each done with little notice and serious financial implications. Reminding myself of Chambers’ admonition was crucial. Other fundamental tenets of the Christian faith like forgiveness, our temporal state, the sin nature of man, and the all-encompassing power of God help us put stress into proper perspective. Losing control is predictable; gaining perspective is profitable.
This week think carefully about: 1) What is stressing me right now? 2) How am I choosing to handle it? 3) Who needs encouragement to more constructively deal with their pressures?
Words of Wisdom: “We all have pressure.”
Wisdom from the Word: “Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance.” (Romans 5:3 NET Bible)