Signposts Regarding Stress

Road signs give you notice of impending change or danger. Do you get anxious when you have to stop for others? Do you resent having to yield the right-of-way? Do you get impatient when road repairs make you change your speed or detour from the familiar? God’s warning signs often relay the same messages as those obstacles you encounter on the highways. What may seem an unpleasant hindrance to your movement through life may be God’s notice that you are going dangerously fast or that you are driving down the wrong road.

SLOW:

1. Slow down and make the necessary changes for good physical health.

  • Do I eat a balanced and healthy diet?
  • Do I exercise at least three times a week?
  • Do I take at least one day of rest each week?
  • Do I get adequate restful sleep most nights?

“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves” (Psalm 127:2).

2. Slow down and evaluate your priorities.

  • Make a list of everything you do.
  • Consider other priorities that should be on the list.
  • Number in order of importance.
  • Choose your commitments carefully.
  • Eliminate unnecessary stressful obligations.
  • Don’t accept impossible deadlines.
  • Don’t give in to the pressure of urgency.
  • Tackle only one problem at a time.

“Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 4:6).

3. Slow down and nourish your spiritual life.

  • Remind yourself daily to, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
  • Open lines of honest communication with God about your concerns, needs and fears.
    Set aside time daily for personal prayer and Scripture meditation.
  • Memorize Scripture that builds assurance of God’s love (Jeremiah 31:3; Psalm 36:7; John 14:21; Romans 8:39).

“It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” (Psalm 119:71)

STOP:

1. Stop and look at the real reason you are experiencing stress.

  • Do I try to meet my own needs instead of waiting on the Lord?
  • Do I think God cannot get along without me?
  • Do I seek self-worth through proving my adequacy and effectiveness?
  • Am I Spirit-led or people-pressured?

“Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10).

2. Stop, confess and turn away from any known sin in your life.

  • Do I manipulate or control others?
  • Do I feel envious or jealous of others?
  • Do I express my feelings inappropriately?
  • Do I overreact to criticism?
  • Do I have impure motives?

“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

YIELD:

1. Yield to God’s sovereign control over your circumstances.

  • What is God doing in my circumstances?
  • In what way does God want me to change?
  • How does God want me to respond?
  • Do I have impure motives?

“The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases” (Proverbs 21:1).

2. Yield to God your rights and expectations.

  • I yield my right to control my circumstances.
  • I yield my right to be accepted by others.
  • I yield my right to be successful.
  • I yield my right to be heard and understood.
  • I yield my right to be right.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).

RESUME SPEED: Resume speed, living in the presence of God.

Dear Lord,

  • I choose to let Christ live His life through me.
  • I choose to live in the present, not worrying about tomorrow.
  • I will refocus my thoughts away from my pressures to Your purposes for allowing this pressure.
  • I choose to have a thankful heart regardless of the pressure I feel.
  • I will call on You, Lord, for wisdom and peace.
  • I will commit to talking less and listening more.

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD” (Psalm 89:15).

“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him” (Psalm 62:1).

[print_link] [email_link] [June Hunt, Hope for the Heart, 2008]

Dealing with Conflict at Work

We are involved in relationships all the time, and sometimes it can get messy… at home, at school, the neighborhood and at work. I have read books about how to cope with difficult people but sometimes you just might need a little practical counsel on what to do when conflict arises at work.

When facing a situation at work when people disagree over a project, course of action or decision, we sometimes find ourselves fighting to win. It can become a test of wills.

Rather than digging in the heels and insisting on our own way, an alternative is to stop for a moment and view the potential outcome in terms of what is God’s way, what is best for the organization. That is for whom we are all working, right (Colossians 3:17, 23)?

I recently read a few tips on how we can get to God’s best for the organization:

1. Stop being so defensive: Being overly defensive does not score points. Instead, it makes you look desperate and immature. Usually what is perceived as a personal attack is nothing more than an attempt to make an improvement, or it may possibly even be a legitimate point of view. Remove your ego from the situation, and see if it looks any different when you start to view the facts.

Okay, sometimes it really is a personal attack. But the rest of these tips will still work.

2. Maintain a calm tone of voice: It’s easy to get sucked into the black hole of emotions, especially when the person on the other side begins to raise their voice, use aggressive hand gestures or hostile body language. You will do much better if you can maintain a calm, confident approach, even when you are in the epicenter of outburst. Take a deep breath, say a quick prayer, count to five, and keep your cool. Controlling your voice is the key to controlling the situation. You might be surprised at the respect this will win from the other observers in the room.

3. Don’t retaliate with criticism or personal attack: In your mind, view the experience on a higher, spiritual plane instead of a simple conflict between two alpha-managers. Instead of retaliating, begin to ask probing questions, and get at the heart of the opposing point of view. Turn the conversation towards what is best for the organization, not about who will win.

4. Acknowledge the other person’s idea as legitimate: One of the most counter-intuitive things you can do in the heat of an intimidating argument is to build up the other person by giving them credit for their opinion, even if you strongly disagree. Usually that is what they are after anyway, to soothe their own ego. Try complimenting the other person on the validity of their idea, and it may very well diffuse the negativity and lead to a more productive discussion.

5. Look to God’s outcome for the situation: If God is truly present in your life and in your organization (which He is), then you must trust that he has a purpose and an outcome that is bigger than you or your co-worker. Picture yourself as the conduit for God’s grace and purpose to pour into the situation at hand, and see how that changes your attitude and the outcome.

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