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Balanced, abundant life should be goal of Christian leaders

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Christian leaders aren’t necessarily called to live a simple life, but they should try to live a balanced, abundant one, a counselor from Long Beach, Calif., told preschool and children’s leaders attending a convention in Nashville, Tenn.

Speaking in the final general session of the National Preschool and Children’s Convention, Oct. 16-19 at LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, Norm Wright said, “Sometimes things get in our way to keep us from that experience, and one of those is stress.

“Stress means stretching yourself beyond your limits, overextending yourselves without an adequate time for recovery,” he said.

He cited several warning signs of stress:

“When you worry about or frantically anticipate future events that can’t be avoided and then are preoccupied with it even after it is over, that’s stress. If you have something in your life that’s dominating your thinking that you can’t let loose of, that’s an indication this is stressful.”

In life, valleys of recovery should follow mountains of high stress levels, he said.

“When you go from one mountain to another with no time to relax and you don’t deal with your stress, that can lead to burnout,” Wright said.

Burnout means to deplete oneself, he said, to wear oneself out by striving to reach unrealistic expectations imposed by self, values of the society or your church.

“We here in this room are more prone to burnout than some other professions,” said Wright, who acknowledged he experienced burnout 20 years ago and was told by his doctor to take six weeks off work.

“All of the sudden we miss out on the joys and lessons God has for us. Burnout can affect you mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. How can we give to others through ministry when our wells are dry?” Wright asked.

Rather than getting involved in too many activities, people just need to ask themselves, “What do I choose to do today that would glorify God the most?” he said.

“It helps to go to the Word [of God] or devotional books or prayer each day. Just put a sign on your office door that says, ‘In Conference.'”

Other ways to handle burnout and stress, he said, include:

— Learning to say “No.”

— Eliminating procrastination and perfection.

— Slowing down when you find yourself in a hurry.

— Evaluating why you’re doing what you’re doing.

— Monitoring spending.

— Changing your attitude.

“Worry has no limits, no boundaries; it’s like a dense big fog,” Wright said, offering a practical solution for worry.

“Take a 3-by-5 card and write ‘Stop’ in big letters on one side. On the other side print the verses, Philippians 4:6-9:

“‘Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus … .’ (Holman Christian Standard Bible).

“Read it out loud and do this every time you begin to worry,” Wright urged.

More than 800 leaders attended the National Preschool and Children’s Convention sponsored by LifeWay’s church resources division.

    About the Author

  • Terri Lackey