As time went on, the stinging stopped. The tension in my shoulders relaxed. The words that once felt like peroxide now seemed more like a soothing salve, relieving my anxiety and guiding me into a better, more soulful, way to live.
After a few more hours of study, I had my outline typed out and my lesson pulled together. It wasn’t cold or sterile now, because I realized the healing truth of the studied passage when properly applied. As a result, I stood up in Bible study the next day with something fresh and authentic to share.
It’s a lesson we must learn and relearn. Putting away our driving to-do list is never easy. There will always be people, pressures, and pain vying for our attention. Yet in order to meet their needs, we must also listen to our own longings and look for our own lessons. It is in our neediness that God fills us up, giving us not only what we need, but ultimately what he wants us to share with others.
So as you open your Bible, dream about strategic plans, or lead through opposition, take the time to ask God not only what he wants you to teach, where he wants your ministry to go, or how you should direct that difficult conversation―but also what he wants you to learn. Then lead from what he gives you.
Let yourself breathe.
Do you ever find yourself holding your breath, running from one thing to the next? Often, the more pressure we feel, the less we pause, and the more we push ourselves. It’s like trying to run the race of ministry without air.
For most of us, the pressure to perform confronts us daily. Often we are one of only a few women on our church’s staff. There’s a lot for us to do, and we want to prove we can keep up. Yet, when we push ourselves to do and be more than we are, we miss the opportunities to trust God’s strength.
As a perfectionist and performer, I often feel the stress move up my shoulders and into my throat as I speed walk from one meeting to the next. My breath gets shallow and short as the inner dialogue begins. Must be on time. Must articulate my vision clearly. Must return phone calls and finish tomorrow’s meeting agenda when I get back to my desk. The stress within us mounts to match―or exceed―the pressure we feel from our situation.
The next time you find yourself having one of those days, stop and take a breath. Remind yourself as you walk with God, he will give you what you need—wisdom for the situation, words for those who struggle, rest when you are weak. With him, there is no pressure to perform or please. Work hard, but then trust him to do the rest, and breathe.