5th January 2017
Happy New Year to you all! I have returned from a short break across the Christmas period feeling rested and refreshed, as I hope many of you do too. However, I am aware that as we approach this new year we know that there are likely to be both challenges and opportunities awaiting us.
Over the years I have found that stress is often experienced in the midst of apparent progress; blessings and opportunities can carry with them seasons of unusual busyness and personal challenge. So whilst it was fantastic to hold 12 carol services across two weekends at King’s last month, it was not without pressure. Of course, some level of pressure is good for you – without it, life could become very boring very quickly. Sometimes, when complaining to Deb about feeling stressed, she will gently remind me that most of it is the result of something I have initiated!
Experience has taught me that there are a number of things I can do which help me manage pressure. Here are just a few of them:
Having an outside interest: I admit that watching Palace lose to Swansea on Tuesday was disappointing, but a night out with my boys was still great fun and it certainly took my mind off everything else! Watching sport is one way in which I relax and switch off, but I also enjoy birdwatching (I know this will come as a surprise to some) and playing golf. It is important to have interests beyond our work environment.
Prayer: Obvious of course, but worth emphasising. When in the presence of God, whether that’s in corporate worship, a prayer walk (I like to walk and pray) or simply through reading a psalm, my perspective changes. My monthly prayer breakfast with a couple of guys from King’s is also a great encouragement. Psalm 16:8 reminds me to ‘…keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand I will not be shaken.’ Anxiety creeps up when I lean too heavily on my own resources and not enough on God’s.
Forward planning: This week I have not attended my normal meeting schedule. For several years now I have taken the first week of January as a study break. I miss the interaction with people in the office, but it gives me the opportunity to plan my diary for the next two years and begin preparing for upcoming sermons. Having the time to do this helps me build in a sustainable rhythm.
Stretching my diary: My father, now 80, is still a great source of encouragement and wisdom. One of his catch phrases is “stretch your diary”. In other words, when under pressure extend the deadline or stop doing something for a while – create space in your week.
Time with Deb and family: Being with my family is one way I can relax, be myself and have fun, which is why I prioritise this time in my diary.
These are just a few things I do to manage the pressures that come in life, and I have learnt to be intentional about making sure I am doing them. I know that when I neglect any of these, my ability to carry stress is greatly reduced.
This Sunday, King's services are back to normal. Andrew Wilson will be opening our short series for January called Devoted, based out of Acts 2:42. Let's gather together and find God’s rest and encouragement as we worship, pray and listen to His word.
Image: Pressure by Pete Birkinshaw, used under CC
Posted by Steve Tibbert
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham and Lee. Over the past fifteen years the church has seen continued growth, both in size and diversity. Steve is also involved in Newfrontiers and regularly coaches other lead elders. His book, Good to Grow, was published in July 2011. He is married to Deb, and they have three sons.