INADEQUACY UNDER PRESSURE
In the last week I have spent time with a few very special visitors who have each asked me how I manage my different roles. I won't bore you with the small list of hats that I have to wear that seem to take up most of my time. Needless to say, I'm not left wondering whether there's anything left to do. For those who have got to know me over the years, they have discovered that I really do care about people and have a general policy that no matter how busy I am, I will always take time to be with people. But tonight I was asked if I ever feel overwhelmed or inadequate?Second Corithians 12:9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
I smiled. Yes. There are times when I feel overwhelmed and inadequate. A few years ago I felt the Lord beginning to teach me how to increase my capacity to handle pressure. Not that I'm a rock-star of pressure management now, but there was a time not that long ago when I was a relative pressure-phobe. I began praying that God would radically increase my capacity to handle pressure and get things done - despite obstacles. Shortly afterwards, I learned my first lesson about increasing my capacity to handle pressure.
Second Corinthians 4:8 We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair;
I love pastoring our church. I delight in the pastoral mission of discipleship to which I am called. It involves teaching, preaching, counseling, training, planning, praying, and studying. But it also involves helping people solve problems and deal with some of the difficulties of life in a Biblically guided way. In my experience, the times of the most intense pressure come when there are task deadlines and urgent people needs. Because I seem to increasingly experience this combination of pressure-causers, and I have had a desire to be equal to the task, I had to learn the first lesson of my journey of how to increase my pressure-handling abilities.
Second Corinthians 11:28 And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
The first thing I had to learn about increasing my ability to handle pressure was that not everybody should. I have seen too many wives carrying emotional, financial, spiritual burdens that they are not designed or meant to handle (while their husbands refused to take up their responsibility of being a their family's burden bearer). I have also seen some assisting pastors take on the role of a senior pastor and not cope because they didn't have the pressure-capacity to handle the responsibilities involved. There is no shame in this. In fact, there is great honour is accepting your strengths and your weaknesses and knowing what your realistic potential is. But I have discovered that God calls some people to greater burdens of servanthood. These servants have greater load-bearing potential. But they nearly all feel overwhelmed and inadequate. Yet at the same time, despite the mounting pressure, there is a desire to fulfil their potential. According to Philippians 2:13, this desire comes from God and is meant to prompt us to pray to God for His help.
Phil. 2:13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
The second thing I've had to learn about increasing my capacity to handle pressure is to keep first things first. That is, don't let the urgent override the important. Do the important things first. I have found that the basics of Christian discipline, Scripture reading, prayer, fellowship and witnessing are important but rarely urgent.
I could go on about my growing list of Improving Pressure Handling tips, but I would rather conclude by picking up the conversation I began with. Do I feel overwhelmed trying to keep up with the demands of being a husband, dad, pastor of a thriving church, president of a premier distance education Bible College, manager of revitalised radio station, with weekly broadcasting and writing commitments? Yes, at times. If I thought I could continue to hold your interest I would share some of the other tips that I have found helpful to increasing my capacity to handle pressure such as resting well, delegating appropriately, commitment to finish, and so on.
Perhaps you've also found that life has its seasons. There are seasons of intense busyness. There are seasons of welcomed quiet and ease. Maybe one of the best things we might discover in these seasons of life is that pressure often comes from how we are relating to others and that despite the attractive temptation to withdraw from others to try to avoid such pressure, this is actually one of the worst things we can do. The next time you are reading through the Gospels note how often Jesus was under intense pressure and in those moments He knew when to withdraw from people - not to be alone - but to be more particularly with His Father - but take note of how often He was interrupted by someone just when He was at His busiest (and note how He handled it).
Psa. 34:8 ¶ Taste and see that the LORD is good.
Oh, the joys of those who trust in him!