No matter what your life consists of, you will have pressure. It can come from different places, but it needs to be managed in order to not become enslaved by it. Admittedly, I have been under a lot of pressure lately. With the challenge of raising four kids, finishing my master’s degree and full-time ministry, pressure is a natural part of my life. There are different areas of pressures that I put on myself, and if you are honest you can probably relate.
Pressures that don’t exist– These are those things that you put on ourselves, even though they aren’t a reality. For me, I have thankfully had tremendous support from the parents in my youth group. This ia a blessing because I know many youth pastors who have significant problems with some parents. But, there does still lurk that pressure to keep parents happy, even though if I am faithful to the Word of God and am consistently pointing the teens to Jesus Christ, no one will be upset. It comes down to being who I am and not trying to model my life and ministry after what someone else is doing.
Pressures to be something or someone you are not can be crippling. You are who you are, so don’t put pressure on yourself to be someone you aren’t
Pressures that I can’t control — There are many things outside of my control. If there are relationship problems, illnesses or a van breaks down on a retreat, that is just how things go. Instead of dreading problems that could occur, we need to engage in what happens and try to point them in the right direction. There will always be the pressures that are just present in any circumstance. We can operate within these pressures by paying attention and being willing to roll with the issues.
Pressures to try to control everything in life will just end up frustration. My kids will get up early every day. I can get grumpy about it, or I can look at it as valuable time with them. The pressure to try to figure out why they don’t sleep in or how I can help them do that just doesn’t produce results. It does waste time, which is not an acceptable option for me.
Pressures that I can control – I have long believed that I will not lose my family in order to save someone else’s. This is still true today. January is a busy month for me in ministry because I have two weekends with retreats. Add to that a schedule which includes trips to the hospital in Boston several times a month with a student, working on my master’s thesis, other school work and normal meetings, and it is easy to get strung out. So, I have been working on balance in all of it in order to not ignore my kids and wife.
Pressures to do other things, even if they are important, need to be tempered with a dose of reality. Sure that person needs help or that phone call needs to be made, but sometimes the kids just need their dad. Learning to say no is an important skill in whatever is done in life.
What is the secret to handling these pressures without melting down? How does it all work out? Well, I prioritize my time in the Word of God. I started off the year with a post about reading the Bible each day, making time with Jesus a priority. This year I am doing something different in addition to my normal time in the Word. I am reading the book A Guided Tour of the Bible by Ken and Karen Boa. This has 365 key chapters to read in the Bible instead of reading every chapter in the Bible in a year. I like the approach and the focus. In addition, I have taken up Bible memorization again, something I had done in the past and let stop. These things allow me to mediate daily on the Word and let it marinate in my life each day.
We all have busy lives. A few weeks into January and that committment to be with Jesus might be waning a bit. Don’t let it stop. Keep moving and allowing Him to speak in to your life. I am able to get by myself, close the door and open the Word with the prayer, “God, here I am. Speak to me today.” I find that place of solitude to be key to keeping my life balanced.