Jesus Christ was a man who was constantly under pressure. There were demands on His time. He was very alone. He rarely had any privacy Himself. He was constantly interrupted.
People misunderstood Him, people criticized Him, people ridiculed Him. He had enormous stress that would have caused any of us to cave in. But, as you look at the life of Christ, you discover very quickly that He remained at peace under pressure. He was never in a hurry. He was always at ease. He had a calmness about His life that made Him handle enormous amounts of stress. We're going to look at the life of Christ, the principles that Jesus Christ lived by in order to handle stress. The first principle -
1. KNOW WHO YOU ARE - Principle of Identification
John 8: 12 "When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said, `I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness for they have the light of life.'" 18 times Jesus says, "I am" something - the light, the door, the way, the truth and the life - I am the Good Shepherd, I am the Son of God. v. 18 "I am the one who testifies for Myself." Jesus said, "I know who I am. I testify of Myself."
That's so important in stress because, if you don't know who you are, somebody else will try to tell you who they think you are. If you don't know who you are, you will allow other people to manipulate you into being somebody you're not. A lot of stress in life comes from the fact that we wear a mask, we're not honest with ourselves and others. We have a fear that we're going to be found out because we live double lives. We try to be somebody we're not. Insecurity always produces pressure in our life. When we are insecure, we feel like we're pressured to perform. We set unrealistic standards for our life and we work, work, work. Then, because we don't meet those unrealistic standards, we get under tension and pressure.
You know who you are by knowing whose you are. I'm a child of God. I am put on earth not by accident but for a purpose. I am deeply loved by God. I'm accepted by Him. He has a plan for my life. Because He put me here, I'm significant. Because He put you here, you are significant. In order to handle stress, you must know who you are. Until you handle that principle, you're going to be pressured by insecurity.
2. KNOW WHO YOU'RE TRYING TO PLEASE –
Principle of Dedication
John 5: 30 "By Myself I can do nothing. I judge only as I hear and My judgment is just for I seek not to please Myself but Him who sent Me." You can't please everybody. Just about the time you get one group pleased, the other group gets mad at you. Even God can't please everybody. It's foolish to attempt to do something that God can't do. You cannot please everybody. Jesus settled it. It was a dedication issue to Him. He said, “I'm going to please God, the Father.” The Father said, "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." When you don't know who you're trying to please, you cave in to 3 things -
A. Criticism - you're wondering what everybody else is going to think about you.
B. Competition - you're worried whether somebody else is getting ahead of you.
C. Conflict - somebody disagrees with you and you don't know who you're trying to please so you give into them.
"Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these other things will be added unto you." If I centre in on just pleasing God, if I work on just that one thing, that simplifies life. It will always be the right thing to do. If it pleases God, it's the right thing. Regardless of what anybody else thinks, it's the right thing.
We love to blame our stress on other people. "You make me...I have to... I must... I've got to." Who says? Actually, there are very few things in life that you have to do. Nobody makes you do anything. When you get under pressure, you are choosing to allow other people to put you under pressure. You are not a victim unless you allow it. Know who you are. Jesus said, “I know who I am.” Know who you're trying to please. Jesus said, “I'm just trying to please God.”
3. KNOW WHAT YOU WANT TO ACCOMPLISH – Principle of Organisation
John 8: 14 "Jesus answered, `Even if I testify on My own behalf, My testimony is valid. I know where I came from and I know where I'm going.'" You have to plan your life. You have to set priorities. If you don't set priorities, you will be guided by what other people think is important. In life, you live by priorities or you live by pressures.
Have you ever come to the end of the day and thought, "Did I accomplish anything? I used a lot of energy and activity but did I accomplish anything?" We get frustrated because busyness is not necessarily productivity. You can be spinning in circles and not accomplishing anything. Why? You don't accomplish anything if you don't know who you are, who you're trying to please, what you want to accomplish. You have to have a goal, an objective.
Preparation prevents pressure but procrastination produces it. Good organisation, good preparation reduces stress. Having clear goals simplifies life. Spend a few moments each day in prayer, talking with God, look at your schedule for the day, decide "Is this really the way I want to spend one day of my life?"
4. FOCUS ON ONE THING AT A TIME –
Principle of Concentration
Some people tried to interrupt Jesus - to get Him away from His plan - to disturb Him from what was His goal in life. Luke 4: 42 "At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for Him and when they came to Him where He was, they tried to keep Him from leaving. But He said, `I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also because that's why I was sent.'" v. 44 "And He kept right on preaching in the synagogues of Judea."
When people came and said, "Why don't You do this?" He said, "I must keep on heading toward My goal" and He kept right on doing what He knew God had told Him to do - preaching about the Kingdom of God. He was determined, He was persistent. He concentrated His efforts.
When we diffuse our efforts, we're ineffective. When we concentrate our efforts, we are effective. It's like light. Light diffused simply produces light. Light concentrated produces a laser. Jesus Christ did not allow interruptions to forbid Him from concentrating on His goal. As a result, He wasn't under stress because He kept His concentration. He did not allow these other things to make Him tense, stressed or irritated.
5. YOU DON'T TRY TO DO IT ALL YOURSELF - Principle of Delegation
Mark 3: 14 "Jesus went up into the hills, and called to Him those He wanted and they came to Him. He appointed twelve, designating them apostles that they might be with Him and that He might send them to preach." He delegated His authority.
Don't try to do it all yourself. Do you know why we get uptight, tense? Because we feel like it all depends on us. Atlas, holding up the cares of the world. It's all on my shoulders. If I let go, the world will fall apart! If you let go the world does not fall apart. Amazing! You can't do it all yourself anyway. We get tense when we think it all depends on us. Jesus enlisted and trained 12 other men, disciples, because He realized He couldn't do it all Himself. He delegated His work.
Why don't we do that? Why don't we delegate? Why don't we get other people involved? Why do we try to do it all ourselves? 2 reasons:
1. Perfectionism. "If you want a job done well, do it yourself." That's a nice idea but it doesn't work all the time. Because there's too many things to be done and you don't have time to do them all. Jesus got 12 men, appointed them and sent them out to do the same thing He had been doing. Do you think that Jesus would have done a better job than them? Of course He would have.
2. Insecurity. We have a real fear that they might do a better job. If you know who you are you won't be threatened by that. You have to get other people involved because you can't focus on more than one thing at a time effectively.
6. MAKE A HABIT OF PERSONAL PRAYER –
Principle of Meditation
Mark 1: 35 "Very early in the morning while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went out to a solitary place where He prayed." Prayer is a gigantic stress reliever. It is a God given tool for letting off your anxieties. No matter how busy Jesus got, He made it a practice to spend time alone with God. If Jesus was busy and made time for prayer, how much more do you and I need it? A quiet time, getting alone with God, can be a decompression chamber for life. You get alone with God where you're all by yourself and you talk to God in prayer, tell Him what's on your mind and let God talk to you as you read the Bible. Then you look at your schedule and you evaluate your priorities and wait for instructions, get your act together at the start of the day. Jesus waited for instructions to start His day.
So many of our problems simply come from our inability to sit still. We just don't know how to be quiet. The Bible says, "Be still and know that I am God." The reason why a lot of people don't know God is they can't be still. We get so busy we don't know where we're going. Like the air force pilot flying over the ocean and he was lost. He radioed in and they said, "Where are you headed?" He said, "I don't know, but I'm making record time!" A lot of us are like that - going in a dozen directions, but we don't know where we're going to end up.
Make a habit of personal prayer. We start the day wrong. We get up and turn on the radio for some bad news. We turn on the TV for some more bad news. We pick up the newspaper to read some more bad news. As if you don't have enough problems by yourself, you've got to add on all the problems of the world. By the time you get to work, you do have the weight of the world on your shoulders because you've fed all that into your subconscious; instead of getting up and praying.
7. TAKE TIME OFF TO ENJOY LIFE –
Principle of Relaxation
Mark 6: 30 "The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all they had done and taught. Then because so many people were coming and going and they didn't even have a chance to eat, Jesus said to them, Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." The reason why Jesus could handle stress is He knew when to relax. He knew when to let go - He either went to the mountains or the desert. Rest and recreation in life are not optional. In fact, they are so important in your life that God put them in the 10 Commandments. Every seventh day you are to rest.
Remember the Sabbath. Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man, for his benefit. God knows that our physical, emotional, mental and spiritual constitution demands periodic breaks. Jesus survived stress because He enjoyed life.
One of my favourite verses is Matthew 11: 19 - Phillips - "Jesus came enjoying life." 1 Timothy 6: 17 "God hath provided all things richly for our enjoyment." They are here to enjoy. You need some time off. You need to just take it easy sometimes. Get a hobby. Get a sport. Gardening. Whatever.
There's one last principle that I want to share with you - Jesus didn't need this one. We need it because we're human. Jesus didn't need it because He was the Son of God.
8. GIVE YOUR STRESS AND YOUR LIFE TO CHRIST - Principle of Transformation
Matthew 11: 28 "Come unto Me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart. And you will find rest for your souls for My yoke is easy and My burden is light." The greatest single source of stress in your life and my life is we try to live our lives apart from the one who made us. When we live our lives out of the influence and control of God, when we try to do our own thing, work our own way, be our own god, without being in harmony with the very one who made us, it causes all kinds of problems and the guilt from it causes more stress.
What do you need? You need a transformation. You need to take your life and its stresses - "God, I give You this. Give me a new life." Jesus said, "My peace I give unto you." Let God transform you from the inside out and you begin to see things in a more peaceful way and you begin to take things for what they are – the irritations, interruptions and inconveniences. Jesus says “Come to Me I will replace your stress with satisfaction, your pressure with peace, your frustration with fulfilment.”
Prayer: "Lord, I want You to be my pacesetter. I want You to direct my life. Help me to concentrate on pleasing You. Help me to know who I am. Help me to know Your purpose for my life. Jesus Christ, I need Your peace in exchange for my pressures. Jesus Christ, remove the frustration and fill my life with fulfilment. I ask You to help me. I give You my life - the good, the bad, the stresses, the pressures. I want to follow You. I want You to be the saviour and the manager of my life."