Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Learning to Properly Manage Stress

A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.  –Proverns 29:11 (KJV)

Proverbs 29:11 states that a foolish man gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.  Something I have learned over the years is the importance of building into our lives strategies for properly managing stress.  First on the list is daily prayer and meditation on the Word of God.  Next on the list is a healthy diet combined with regular exercise.  Along with these add proper rest, a healthy sense of humor, pursuing a hobby, and leaning to keep life and its problems in proper perspective.  All these empower us to be more contented, relaxed, and capable of keeping ourselves under control rather than blowing up at someone who happened to push us over the edge.
Around 20 years ago I was the pastor of a church in another state.  One morning while studying at the church office I received a call from a telemarketer.  These days I am usually hanging up about the time the telemarketer is saying, “Good morning Mr. Birchfi…”  However, back then I was younger and willing to listen to the entire spiel before telling him or her I wasn’t interested and to have a nice day.  This individual was with a Christian based company which sold video Bible study materials.  The man proceeded to explain to me how by purchasing this video series and showing them to the church I could increase attendance and revolutionize the church’s ministry. 

The video series was several hundred dollars, but I could examine them for free, after which time I was certain to be convinced.  My ministry at this church was not going well at that time.  The congregation was divided, there were factions working against each other, and a general sense of discontentment seemed to pervade everything I was seeking to accomplish.  Add to this the fact the church was strapped financially.  I began to explain to the man that we could not purchase the video series and I lacked the time to review them anyway.  The man’s tone became what I perceived as combative.  He accused me of not caring about the church or whether or not it grew. 

 He went on in this vein for a few more moments when I interrupted him.  I said something like this; “So, you mean to tell me all I have to do is buy these videos and this will fix everything? (I think I was shouting)  How dare you sit in an office 500 miles away and tell me what will and will not work in this church.  I am ending this conversation – goodbye!”  I slammed the phone down on the receiver.  I was so agitated I had to walk around the church grounds a while to gain my composure.  Later I recalled what the scripture says about a wise man keeping himself under control.  I had not done that.  All that poor telemarketer could do was sit there and listen as I blew all my circuits.  I am grateful the Lord has since then taught me how to better handle stress, lest I blow up at someone like I did the telemarketer. 

No doubt you too are having to deal with stress in your life.  God understands and will empower you to better cope with what you are facing.  Seek the Lord each day and do not beat yourself up over past mistakes.  There is a brighter day coming as you walk in faith and victory over the stresses in your life. 

God bless you today.