Jesus promised us peace. But for many Christians who lead stressful lives, that promise feels like an empty platitude. How can you be at peace when life keeps throwing you curve balls?
Stress, not peace, seems to be the norm for we moderns. When have you felt the most stress in your life? I was reflecting on the times in my life when I've felt the greatest levels of stress and I realized they were when things were most out of control.
I felt it when I was unemployed and didn't know what would happen next.
I felt it when I worked for bosses who were unpredictable, whose whims and emotions trumped my ability to plan.
I felt stress when a crisis happened and dashed my plans.
Stress comes in times of uncertainty and crisis. So the question is, what can you do to stop living from crisis to crisis?
In spite of the fact that my life is full of projects and many things I can't control, I lead a relatively stress-free life. I've found that you need space in your head to prevent surprises from turning into crises. You want to be available for the crises and interruptions when they arise.
What's worked for me
People look at me and wonder how I do it. I've got dozens of little projects going on and random people continually asking for help. I'm not saying I've got the issue licked, but I do have a few secrets. Here are four:
Write it down & pray. Every brain cell devoted to remembering what it is that you need to do is wasted. Save your energy by storing your thoughts on paper, not in your head. Once it's on paper, pray about it.
Delegate as much as possible. Why do what someone else can do? Let the body of Christ function as it was intended. Ask someone else to do a task and it will no longer follow you around like a lost dog.
Go over your lists. Carve out time every morning to look at your day from 10,000 feet. Don't just dive into your list; take time to meditate and think about where you're going. Get a mental picture for what a successful day looks like. Prioritize the list.
Do the important stuff first. The 80/20 rule means that you'll do most of your essential work in just two hours. After you're clear about what that is, decide to do that first.
I like to create, but to do so, I can't be in crisis. Creating takes emotional energy – the energy that a crisis can sap. To create, we need to minimize the stress in our lives.
As I create, I've found that flexibility is much more important than getting things perfect. Walking in the Spirit means that I have to be available for his agenda to trump mine. But it also means that instead of feeling out of control, I'm confident that he is in control.