Stressed Out vs. Under Stress

Stressed Out vs. Under Stress

Seminary is tough. Ministry in the local church is non-stop. Discipleship is exhausting. Evangelism is scary. Leadership puts a burden on the leader. Real responsibility carries real-life consequences.

It’s too bad more folks don’t experience all these factors at the same time. Yep, you may think I’m crazy but I’m thankful that I faced all of these at the same time! Why? 
Why am I thankful that I had too much to do? Why am I thankful that I had to take a little lower grade on some papers than the grade I knew I was capable of making? Why was it beneficial to face the tension of one hundred good things begging for my attention while only having time to pursue one? 
Because this is the best training for real life. This is the best training for real ministry. Theological training in seminary alone is good—but combining seminary with ministry and discipleship and community and real life responsibility in the local church is far better. Why?
Through this tension I learned that there is a difference between being under stress and being stressed out. The difference is in the heart—in my heart and in your heart. When I am stressed out, I’m focused on me. When I’m focusing on Jesus, I remember God’s will—and he has NOT called me to sin.  When I’m stressed out I am not patient or long-suffering or gentle; I’m short-tempered, demanding immediate gratification, and harsh. When I am stressed out I do not evidence the character of God. But how can I refocus?
Is Jesus ruling in my heart? Am I resting in the reality that Jesus has authority over creation—that Jesus calmed the raging storm on the sea with the power of his word? Have I forgotten that Jesus loosed the woman who was bound up in Luke 13—and when I was bound up by sin and unable to loose myself he did the same for me? Am I remembering that Jesus brought Lazarus back to life and that he has authority to grant new and eternal life to those who repent and believe? Do I sit in awe that God desires my faithful obedience and that I trust his providence?
God graciously and providentially sends testing my way as a means to develop my character and worship discipline. When I am under stress but still trusting God, I can handle the situations and prioritize without losing self-control. I can remain sober-minded because in my weakness God is made strong. I can’t handle all the pressure. But Jesus can. The Holy Spirit will guide me and will evidence the character of God through me if I will walk in the Spirit and not the flesh (Romans 8). 
Learning to endure stress and prioritize rightly and glorify Christ is a key component to Generation LINK, because no matter the vocations God holds for us in the future, handling stress in a Christ-like way is crucial. After all, which mom doesn’t face stress of too much to do with and for the kids and too little time? Which church member doesn’t work a full-time job and feel stretched to squeeze in time for God, his Word, and his people? Which pastor doesn’t have 100 urgent emails demanding responses? Which Christian is not burdened by the number of people in the world who may never hear the Gospel if someone doesn’t take it to them? Christ is sufficient. We are both deficient and inefficient, but Christ is sufficient. He calls us to be faithful and obedient—not stressed out.
Written by Jared Ownby
Raleigh Area Director, Generation LINK