Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Four Steps to Manage Stress in My Life-(Step #3)

Before we get to step number three in managing the stress in my life, I would like to share what was on my heart when I awakened on this Tuesday morning. Six years ago, I was in the Family Life Center of First Assembly of God in Huntsville, Arkansas at a Ministerial Alliance meeting. I was the Senior Pastor of First Assembly, and was the Ministerial Alliance President for the Madison County Alliance. We had just completed our prayer together, and was discussing some business matters, when my secretary, Holly Edens, walked in with a grim look on her face and handed me a note that read, "Two planes have flown into the World Trade Center in New York. It was a terrorist act." Those words shocked all of the pastors that were at the meeting. We dismissed with prayer, and then I walked up the hill to our parsonage and was absolutely dumbfounded by the chaos that I witnessed. Within minutes, both towers fell, and thousands of people were killed. In the days to come, as a nation, we grieved for the loss, and were angered by the complete disregard for the sanctity of human life that our enemies had shown. Now, six years later, may we never forget those who were killed, and the families that are still effected, and will be for the remainder of their lives. But most of all, may we pray for our great nation, and for her leadership. Why not pause right now, with me, and do that?

Thank you, now let's continue our look at the "Four Steps to Manage Stress in My Life." We all have stress in our lives, but there are some steps that you can take to manage the stress. Step #1 was to Check your Schedule, look for ways to be a better steward your time. Step #2 was to Check your Finances, instead of increasing your LIVING, increase your GIVING. Now, step #3.


Proverbs 16:24 tells us the power that words have to bring health to our lives. "Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and health to the body."
Whether I'm speaking these kind words or hearing these kind words, they have an impact on my life.

The opposite is also true. All of us have experienced the stress that comes into our lives because of words. For example: It's a quiet evening at home – no stress, real calm – and all of a sudden someone says something that has a little bit of an edge to it and somebody else responds with a little more of an edge. It gets worse and worse. You're on the down escalator of communication. When you're on that, what was a quiet peaceful evening all of a sudden becomes the this huge anxiety in your life. Words can create incredible stress.

One of the most famous Proverbs of all, Proverbs 15:1 tells us why this happens "A gentle answer turns away wrath. But a harsh word stirs up anger."
That's why it happens. When I say something that has a little bit of edge to it, a little harsh, it stirs the pot of anger a little bit in a family. What do we usually do when somebody's harsh with us? The first response is for me to grab the spoon and stir it a little bit more. Then somebody else grabs it and stirs it a little bit more. Pretty soon we're both stirring as fast as we can. It's a terrible experience.

Yet, the Bible says here's an answer. A gentle answer stops the stirring. It turns away wrath. The word "gentle" there doesn't mean quiet and meek and you can't hardly hear the person. The word "gentle" means able to be honest enough about yourself to admit where you're at fault. It means, I've got enough humility to be able to say that.

Check your words and you realize in our communication how much stress conflict can bring. But it's not only conflict. Have you noticed how much stress a single word can bring into your life? Have you noticed how much stress the word "yes" can bring into your life? "Can we have office party at your house this Fourth of July weekend?" Yes! Stress! "Can you get this thirty day project done in ten days?" You want to impress the boss, show everyone you're superman – Yes! Stress! "Mom, Dad, Can I go out with Billy "Bad to the bone" Jones?" No! You've got to draw the line somewhere. You can't say Yes to everything. Yet sometimes, because we want to impress people, sometimes because we haven't learned how to say No, sometimes because we feel inadequate, sometimes because we feel like we're superman or superwoman, we say yes to everything we can. And because of that the stresses start to pile up.

What is the one decision that you and I can make about our mouth that can drastically reduce the anxiety and stress load in our lives? Shut your mouth! I say that in the kindest way. I say that to myself as well as to you. When you shut your mouth it drastically reduces the stress. You shut the mouth and you listen to the other person. You hear what they have to say before you start responding immediately. It's amazing to me how I respond to what they weren't really trying to say in the first place. If I had of just shut my mouth for a few minutes I would have known.

Listen to what the book of James 1:19 in the New Testament has to say about that. "Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry."
That's how those things build on one another. Shut your mouth. Don't say yes so quickly. Count to ten. Wait a day. Consider it before you say yes to it.

Proverbs 17:28 says that people who are wise don't talk a lot. That's one of the signs of wisdom. I love the way this verse ends. "A truly wise person uses few words. Even fools are thought to be wise when they keep silent. When they keep their mouth shut they seem intelligent."

For less stress shut your mouth. Check your words.

I love you guys, and my prayer for you today is that you will meditate on this Word of God. Please feel free to leave comments and/or a testimony of how God has helped you in this area. Blessings!


Rejoicing (and spinning) in this wonderful day,

Pastor Rusty




Churchchipmunk said...

This is so awesome! Thank you very much for this! Have you ever wondered, though, how so much of everything ever shared comes back to our MOUTH? I think it is quite ironic how the Lord so plainly advised us to let our YES be YES and our NO be NO. And that we also have the power to SPEAK Life or Death. And yet, this instruction is so quickly ignored, skipped over or just rejected. It amazes me how easy it is to let words flow yet so difficult to Keep Silent. Perhaps our lives Would In Fact be less stressful if learned to art of Keeping Silent OR if we learned to channel our Words into Prayer? (Food for Thought)
Resting in His Grace and Mercy,

Karateman said...

I want to comment on the "gentle answer/response" I liked how you brought out gentle is not weak. We don't have to be rude or ugly but we don't have to be doormats either. Jesus is our example. He was gentle in that he was compassionate, he loved hurting people and people in need. Children loved him. But he was also a mans man. Anyone that could take the beating he took. Then carry his cross all the way to the place of crucifixion. Survive crucifixion long enough for all the things that were recorded to take place and even carry on a simple conversation with the two on the crosses with him...that was no limp wristed, milk toast Jesus. He was all man with gentle ways. Good stuff you are posting my brother and my friend.

Treasure Seeker said...

i like the keeping your mouth shut part....
along with everything else.

I pray that my life and my words match up. I pray that I listen more than I speak. I pray that I speak His words and not my own - although I fail so often on all counts.

These stress busters are great for busy families. Thanks for the Word.
Love ya dearly,