One of the great aspects of the lecture was the really practical advice for keeping a handle on stress. One thing to realise is that there will be times when everything goes pear shaped and stress is inevitable. But we can keep the normal day to day, week to week stuff under control when life is more constant. Plus we can also create ways to be prepared for when life does go pear shaped.
The following list of advice is in no specific order or theme, so it might feel a bit random but it is all worth it, so bear with me. It is also aimed at a specific audience, that of paid ministry, but if you aren’t in paid ministry there are still nuggets of gold in here.
Make choices for a more balanced life
It is really easy to be always working, always switched on. This is especially true of jobs that have no defined hours of work, like ministry. For many it can be easy to just keep working. This will be at the expense of your family, friends and most importantly your relationship with God.
Therefore it is important to have a healthy balance of work and non-work. Divide your day up into work and non-work and seek to stick to these guidelines. Because of the nature of ministry one thing I learnt during my apprenticeship at Narrabeen is to think of the day in 3 sections; morning, arvo and evening. Try to have one of these portions of the day free most days. Sometimes it wont work, but if you are working all three every day of the week, that is dangerous.
Place ‘Margins’ in your life.
Learn how to say “NO” to people, including your boss and the demanding parents. Also learn to say “no” to good things. You can’t do it all. This will also help create a margin (i.e. space to move) for your life. When the week does become pear shaped, if you have filled your margin, there is no moving space and life becomes very uncomfortable very fast.
Reform your thinking
- challenge your mistaken beliefs
- remember that we are called to be faithful but God gives the growth
- change from ‘what if …’ to ‘so what’ – don’t take everything so seriously
- be gentle on yourself
- fight perfectionism
- beware of self-pity