Hey, brother! Have you been downsized, reorganized, re-engineered, and restructured? Are you being asked to make more widgets than ever before with fewer labor hours and no capital to upgrade your plant? Are you being asked to sell more widgets with fewer salespeople and less marketing money while improving your customer service scores? You are? Welcome to business in the new millennium. You ain’t seen nothing yet!
Change is upon us folks and the pace of change is increasing logarithmically. The one certain thing that change brings is stress. The more change, the more stress. There are three kinds of people when it comes to dealing with stress. There are those that love it, the more the better. There are those that deal with it, a certain amount keeps them motivated and focused. And there are those that don’t want any, they run from it as fast as their little legs will carry them.
Most of us fall into the second group; we deal with it. A certain amount of stress in our lives is actually good for us, it keeps us motivated and focused. It keeps us working toward our goals. Without this stress, we would soon be bored. Too much stress, however, can cause us to get downright cranky. Prolong this high level of stress and we lose productivity, and relationships at work and at home suffer. People who have suffered under too much stress for long periods are often referred to as “burnouts.”
If change brings stress, and the pace of change is increasing, then it stands to reason that we had better figure out how to deal with stress effectively or we’ll end up in corporate scrap heaps for sure.
Moses and Stress
Some people assume that if you are a good Christian, then you won’t be troubled by stress; everything will roll off your back like water off of a duck. Nothing could be further from the truth! The Bible describes dozens of people under stress, but Moses is one of my favorites.
Moses is leading the nation Israel out of Egypt into the Promised Land. Imagine being in charge of 2,000,000 people on a march through the desert!
Despite all the things God had done to take care of His people, it wasn’t long before they were whining about their diet and all the hardships they had to endure. Moses bore the burden as long as he could, but he finally went to God, “Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me? Did I conceive all these people? Did I give them birth? Why do you tell me to carry them in my arms, as a nurse carries an infant, to the land you promised on oath to their forefathers? Where can I get meat for all these people? They keep wailing to me, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ I cannot carry all these people by myself; the burden is too heavy for me. If this is how you are going to treat me, put me to death right now – if I have found favor in yours – and do not let me face my own ruin.” (Numbers 11:11-15).
Can’t you almost hear Moses, “Lord, I didn’t ask for this job. Why are you doing this to me? I don’t even like these people! Don’t you like me Lord? I’d rather die than keep listening to these whining people!” Talk about stress!
Fortunately for Moses, he had a smart father-in-law, Jethro. Jethro saw that all 2,000,000 people who had problems could come to Moses for answers. Moses sat all day long listening to every little dispute among the people. That is certainly a recipe for stress! Jethro told Moses, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.” (Exodus 18:17-18).
Jethro hit Moses right in the face; “You’re going to kill yourself if you keep this up!”
Jethro continued, “Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to Him. Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. But select capable men from all the people – men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain – and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.” (Exodus. 18:19-23).
Notice Jethro’s advice about the people Moses was to appoint. He identified five important characteristics for these assistants; able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain, men who are leaders, and men who are discerning enough to judge.
One of the biggest reasons we have stress is we don’t utilize our resources well. Moses had lots of talented people capable of helping in the work but he wasn’t utilizing them. He hadn’t learned how to say “No,” the importance of training others, or how to delegate.
Does this sound like your story?
We have already discussed stress is often a matter of perception. How can we keep our perspective so that we minimize the effect of stress in our lives?
Proverbs 3:5-8 provides some insight, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your path straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.”
Notice the five action steps involved in these verses:
1) We are instructed to trust in the Lord with all our hearts. That’s complete trust. It doesn’t mean you’ll trust God with the little things, it means everything!
2) We are not to lean on our own understanding. How many times have you thought God wasn’t acting fast enough so you took matters into your own hands?
3) In all ways, we are to acknowledge God. That means we are to recognize God in everything. God is never apart from us.
4) We are not to get cocky, thinking that we are wise and can handle everything.
5) We are to shun evil. Avoid evil, or even appearance of evil. In other words don’t compromise your integrity.
These five action steps are our part. We are to trust in God, not lean on our own understanding, acknowledge God in all things, not think we are too wise to need God, and avoid all forms of evil.
If we do our part, God’s promises are that He will make our paths straight, and bring health to our bodies. If it’s true that stress results in many of our physical maladies then removing stress through God’s promises will surely bring about healthier physical, emotional, and spiritual people!
5 Steps to Surviving Killer Stress in Your Life is an excerpt from Keeping Your Balance–Keys to Surviving Stress in Your Work Life. This 12-page bonus whitepaper includes much more in-depth content including:
- The top ten sources of job stress
- Common symptoms of stress
- 6 Steps you can take to manage stress in your life starting today!
- Words to Ponder – a collection quotes and Biblical passages about stress
- A real life case study that examines 7 important things to know about managing organizational stress
- Meetings Notes – a guide to help you understand the cause and effect of stress in your organization
- Stress Busters – an 18-point stress buster plan from Dr. Martin Brenner
You can download this valuable resource here:
Join the Conversation
As always questions and comments are welcome! Have you worked in a position where the stress became detrimental to you or the people you work with? What affect did it have on you/others? How did you manage through the situation?
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Category: Personal Development | Stress Management