Threat to society
Top ten signs the staff is stressed out
Irreverent from Rev. magazine
10. When anyone asks the administrative assistant for something, she replies,
"Do you want fries with that?"
9. The executive pastor has replaced the "In" box on his desk with his waste basket.
8. The pastor of congregation care's new voice message now announces, "Call back when you've got a real problem."
7. Memos from teaching pastor always end with, "I warn everyone who hears these words: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this memo. And if anyone takes words away from this memo, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city."
6. Staff too busy to write number 6.
5. Youth pastor is skinny-dipping in baptisterymore than usual.
4. Rather than the music of "Bill Gaither Homecoming" CDs coming out of senior adult pastor's office, it's now "Pillar."
3. The Diet Coke in the office frig has been replaced with Red Bull.
2. The number of the local psychiatric hospital is on the office phone's "speed dial."
1. The pastor of communications is writing his Rev. column on stress.
As I write this, my church is in the midst of moving to a much larger facility, so for the past few weeks, the entire staff has been on heavy doses of coffee, Diet Coke and dark chocolate. We haven't quite reached the level described above, but it has been stressful. As a result, I've developed my own stress formula. (I'm sure it will rank right up there with other famous formulas such as E=MC2, C=PiR2 and, of course, Formula 409.)
Y Z >A R = C
Simply put, if Your Zeal (YZ) is greater than your Area of Responsibility (AR), then you will experience Composure (C).
For instance, let's say Pastor Karen, has the zeal and energy of the Energizer bunny on speed, so she scores a 10 on the YZ part of the equation. She's married, mother of two, and works 60-plus hours a week as solo pastor at Moose Breath Baptist Church in Wyoming, so has a 9 on the AR scale. As long as her amount of zeal (10) is greater than her areas of responsibility (9), she will experience composure.
Let's say that Pastor Carl is a laid back 8 for his YZ in the Watkins formula. He's married, has a pre-schooler, works as youth pastor at a super-sized-mega church in southern California, where he also directs an after-school program for kids at risk. He, too, has a 9 on the AR scale. But, because he has only 8 units of YZ, instead of composure, the formula is reversed and Carl feels:
C = RA < ZY
Yep, that's him skinny-dipping in the baptistery!
If we're going to maintain composure in our lives--and avoid being ordered to see a court-appointed psychiatrist--our energy level needs to be greater than our areas of responsibility. By recognizing that each person's metabolism and personalities equip them with a unique level of zeal, we can make an effort not to go over our own area of responsibility "weight limit." There are two ways to assure this: increase our level of zeal or decrease our areas of responsibility.
It is possible to increase our energy by eating right, exercising, and taking our vitamins every morning. But until we look like the Greek gods or goddesses on those work-out videos, we may need to try something less Olympic.
I've found that a "mission statement" has helped me filter what jobs I take on and which jobs I pass on or delegate. Mine is:
To communicate the gospel of Christ in as an effective and creative manner and with as many people as possible (Matthew 28:19-20).
If someone comes along and asks me to, say for instance, star in the civic theater's production of "Rent," I simply reply, "Thanks so much for asking, but I'll have to say no." (And I think there are actually laws against an uncoordinated white guy from ever attempting dance!)
So, try this simple exercise. Standing upright in a relaxed position, take a deep breath, and as you exhale say, "No." (You may need to practice this exercise in front of a mirror or with a friend, but it is easier than drinking raw eggs with bee pollen and running 10 miles every day.) By knowing our limits, we can honestly say, "Thanks so much for asking, but I'll have to say no."
What a time-saving device. And, it keep us composed and out of the bapistery!
Copyright © 2008 James N. Watkins
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