Saturday, June 2, 2012

Stress, Pressure and staying alive through it

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Stress, Pressure and staying alive through it
I think the reasons for the swirling thoughts of the last few days and the feeling of some stress… again… is the people I met with.

On Thursday I was with some ministers at a daylong seminar.  Then just after the seminar I was invited to attend two more upcoming seminars in the next few months.  It was the remembered pressure and stress of long ago that set it all off again – I am sure of that.

I used to be under pressure almost all the time.  The busy schedule of a minister and the multitude of problems that begged attention swirled around me all the time.

I found a posting on a Web Page from another pastor by the name of Greg Baker… who stated – quote..
“I pastor a Church. As such, there is pressure on me from many different directions. I have to worry about things that no one else in the Church does. If something goes wrong, I get the call. If something bad happens, I get blamed. That's part of the pressure. This pressure causes stress. Sometimes that stress is evident in relationships, in mounting frustration or exasperation, and can play havoc with my health. Wherever I am the weakest, the stress appears.” End quote.

Whoa! Just reading this made me shake a little. The same old feelings of the weight and the downward pressure on my life returned in a heartbeat!

“Wherever I am the weakest, the stress appears.” he stated.

Greg used an illustration of a Plastic Water Bottle.  With the bottle empty push down steadily on the top until it starts to collapse. The crackle of the plastic will begin at the weak points and then it will begin to fold up until the bottle is flat.

If you look closely you will see that the bottle is very thin at the places it bends and folds first.  Eventually the bottle will break at those week area.

One thing for sure happens.  The bottle will not likely hold water very well any longer.

If the bottle is straightened up again and then more pressure is applied it will collapse much more quickly the next time… and after the second time of crushing it will not likely be able to hold water at all. The holes will appear all over the plastic.

Thankfully we are not made of plastic but we are vulnerable.

We can fortify the areas of our weakness by rest, by removing ourselves from the problem areas or pressure points or we can quit – get completely away.

Retirement does that for sure. It offers the “quit” and “get completely away from it” part very well.

But if you are still in it – you MUST FIND ANOTHER WAY to get help.

Greg Baker offers the following… quote..
“A person can handle pressure if they can do three things:
1. Have a reason and cause for being under the pressure
2. Finding a way to bleed off and relieve stress
3. Strengthen their weak areas

Nervous breakdowns result from someone who either can't relieve stress, or who can't find a cause or reason to be under the pressure. The stress builds up where they are weakest and then destroys them. Someone who can't handle the stresses in life will eventually try to run. Someone who can't handle the pressures in life can suddenly snap.” End quote.

I have had a number of “Minister Friends” in recent years “snap”.  They are now out of the ministry because they had a “Moral Failure”. That is church lingo describing the fact that they did something that is morally reprehensible to the church members. It may have been sex, money, theft, anger, hatred… but sex and money are the two highest on our “church list”. (The other three are more acceptable in that more church people do them more often.)

Church people can have problems with “sex” or with “theft” but the minister doesn’t dare. Kind of ridiculous when you think about it – really!

But that is an added pressure keeping the man or woman under stress… and eventually something will break… at the weakest point.

In humans it isn’t plastic parts that break… it is rather our hearts or some circulatory part where the pressure and then the stress breaks open or out. Heart, Stroke and failing health are good starting points.

One of my minister friends has a huge problem. His wife was so sick that they had to quit the ministry.  It seemed that everything in her body went wrong at the same time. They were facing one major sickness after another until she was completely bedridden.

Why?  Where was God in all of this?

Well there was an answer for sure and God was always there. The lady(pastor’s wife) and the man(pastor) in this situation both were trying to make everything better for everyone around them.  They were playing “God” for everyone in their own human way.  Whatever was wrong here they were expected to fix it… after all that is what God is for when I have trouble… and I don’t want trouble.

Then she being the weaker of the two – broke.  He broke later.

The Doctor called it the “Evangelical Syndrome” where the Evangelical Minister and Wife are known as the “fixer-uppers”. A simple prayer and a quick scripture fixes almost everything.  And when it doesn’t help – do it again and again… and pray harder and harder… until your own health breaks completely.

The problem is still there and the people are the same lame people that they were when they came to the minister with their problems and expected him to fix them.

I have had that ministerial trip for a long time in my own life.  More people were left unfixed than the ones that were fixed. I had great prayers and exercised great spiritual powers… that made pressure and stress have to back off… until the amount that came my way finally made me collapse.

A large two litre Coca Cola Bottle will stand more pressure on it than the thin little water bottle did.  But it will eventually break as well… crumpling into a flattened plastic glob.

No? Try running over it with a truck’s tire!!!

Some situations are “Truck Tire Size” with the pressure that is applied!

One of my friends was just removed from his church with accusations of “Moral Problems”.  He was caught going to XXX places in his free time. I think he claimed that it was a ministry opportunity or something – kind of a missionary trip. Oh Boy!

The church has just incurred a huge debt with the construction project they completed… I mean Millions and Millions of dollars of debt.  And the pressure of that plus the pressure of the people that are now coming made his “bottle” fold up under the pressure… and he broke at the weakest place.

He and his wife are doing okay today. They are getting their lives back together and love each other even more than before.

Some people question her – why she decided to stay after what he did.

But removing him from the pressure and the stress has made a new man of this minister.

If he can stay away from the pressure and the stress produced by what happened around him… they will be okay.  If he doesn’t – well….

How do I understand this all?

Well I have lived it all. I have been under pressure that few would ever know. The Northview church carried over $1,350,000 debt for 18 years without paying anything on the Mortgage Principle.  Then we began in 1998 to pay it down.

Unhappy people started doing their things and leaving the church angrily.

When you have church debt and people leaving the church – it is not a formula for success! I knew pressure like no one can imagine… and the stress started to produce its toll on me.

I am not about to tell you all my weak points where I crackle and pop and break.

But I do think about the church that my friend was the minister of… the debt is very much there and it is HUGE!!!!  Who will the person be that comes in to deal with the debt and pay it down?  What pressure will they know and what stress will cause what part to break?

Unless the new minister coming is Superman – the man of steel… he will feel it all.

Oh boy…

Watching and listening to the young guys this past week… I can see the effects of the pressure they are under… but I don’t think that they can see it at all!

Double Oh Boy!!  But I can look after me… and they must look after themselves.  And the Elders and Board of Directors of these major places (or little ones as well) are responsible in major ways!!!

~ Murray Lincoln ~


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