Seven secrets of stress management
by Rick Warren

"Then Jesus said, 'Let's get away from the crowds for a while and rest.' There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn't even have time to eat."

(Mark 6:31, NLT)

Do you ever feel like your life and schedule is out of control?

You can't eliminate stress, but you can manage it. Jesus Christ experienced enormous stress and pressure, yet it didn't seem to disturb his peace of mind. In spite of opposition, constant demands, and little privacy, his life reflected a calm sense of balance.

What was his secret? A closer look at his lifestyle reveals seven key "stressbusters":

Identification: Know who you are (John 8:12) - Eighteen times Jesus publicly defined himself. There was no doubt in his mind as to who he was. If you're unsure of your identity, you'll allow others to pressure you into their molds. Trying to be someone you're not causes stress!

Dedication: Know who you want to please (John 5:30) - You can't please everyone. Even God can't! Just about the time you get Crowd A happy, Crowd B will get upset with you. Jesus never let the fear of rejection manipulate him. No one can pressure you without your permission.

Organization: Set clear goals (John 8:14) - Jesus said, "I know where I came from and where I am going." Preparation prevents pressure but procrastination produces it. You work by either priorities or pressures.

Concentration: Focus on one thing at a time (Luke 4:42-44) - You can't chase two rabbits at the same time! Jesus knew how to handle interruptions without being distracted from his primary goal.

Delegation: Don't try to do everything yourself (Mark 3:14) - We get tense when we feel it all depends on us. Jesus enlisted 12 disciples. Don't allow perfectionism, or the fear that others may do a better job, keep you from involving others in the task.

Meditation: Make a habit of prayer (Mark 1:35) - No matter how busy Jesus got, he found time to get alone to pray everyday. A daily "Quiet Time" is a great stress decompression chamber. Use this time to talk to God about your pressures and problems, evaluate your priorities, and discover the rules for successful living by reading the Bible.

Relaxation: Take time to enjoy life (Mark 6:30-31) - Balance is the key to stress management. Work must be balanced with fun and worship.

Point to ponder: Stress is inevitable - but you can still have peace of mind.

Verse: "Then Jesus said, 'Let's get away from the crowds for a while and rest.' There were so many people coming and going that Jesus and his apostles didn't even have time to eat." (Mark 6:31, NLT)

What will you do about it: For the next week, concentrate on this list of seven stress-busters. Take one a day, read the corresponding scripture, and start to incorporate those habits into your life.

Prayer: Ask God to strengthen you and teach you to handle the stresses that come your way.

-PDL.com-

Rick Warren is the author of The Purpose-Driven Life and pastor of
Saddleback Church in California.