Posted in Faith, Servant Leadership

It’s Okay to Be Uncomfortable

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wor·ry
ˈwərē/
verb  1. give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles.

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? (Matthew 12:25).

Jesus Christ posed an interesting question to his disciples, to challenge their thinking. Worry is so common to human beings that for some people it seems as natural a response as breathing, yet the Master pointed them to a higher way. The obvious answer, although none of them dared to speak up, was “Nobody, Lord. Nobody can add a single hour to their life by worrying.”

Here we are 2000 years later, and how would we answer? I personally would be like the disciples and not say a word. I would try to quietly back out of the room to avoid further conversation. I know the facts. Worry has probably stolen hours from my life. However, my thoughts and actions speak much louder than any words I might produce. Allowing my mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles contributes nothing positive. But when I worry I somehow convince myself that it gives me some control over the situation.

May I just be honest with you? I don’t like feeling that things are outside of my control, because it is uncomfortable. I don’t like being uncomfortable, because it is, at the very least, unsettling, and at the most, terrifying. Some of it is my personality, some of it is the experiences of my past. Regardless of the reasons for why I am the way I am, safety and predictability are what I desire. I know some of you can relate.

The trouble is being a follower of Jesus requires faith. Faith is the opposite of worry. Being a good leader also requires faith. Again, in case you missed it the first time, faith is the opposite of worry.

faith
fāTH/
noun  1. complete trust or confidence in someone or something.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Hebrews 11:1).

Faith means that we have complete trust and confidence in the Lord. It also means we may feel uncomfortable humanly speaking.

I know some leaders that thrive when they embark on an adventure of faith. It is thrilling for them to be in a position to see God work beyond their own abilities. I am like the other leaders that are learning to thrive in the midst of an adventure that requires faith. My flesh still yearns to walk in the territory of the known, but the Lord shows Himself strong on my behalf. I don’t have to love walking by faith and not by sight. However, I do need to learn that it’s okay to be uncomfortable.
Last weekend the non-profit organization I lead had a 5K fundraising event. Last year my Board and I felt that the Lord was directing us to have such an event. Last year was an experiment and it went well for our first run. This year it was hard to get the momentum going. We increased our advertising, but registration was slow. For weeks I struggled with worry. I still believed we were following the Lord’s direction, but the anxiety mounted. I resisted imagining the worst, but the thoughts persisted.

This 5K is going to be a flop.
Nobody is going to sign up.
The weather will be terrible. Nobody will show up to help or participate.
Nobody will give to underwrite our expenses.
We will lose money.
All our donors will quit giving to us and give to another organization.
After 32 years of serving the community, we will close our doors.

I acted brave around my Board and staff, but I was miserable inside. Then the Lord in His sweet mercy broke through the internal clamor, and I heard Him speak gently to my heart.

Will you be okay with being uncomfortable? Will you trust Me, no matter what happens?

I again surrendered my desire to be in control, and God’s peace surrounded my heart and mind.

I am called to do my best; the outcome belongs to the Lord.

The organization I lead is ultimately led by Him.

Success looks differently to me than to the Lord.

He will provide what my organization needs, using resources I may not see at the time.

I can rest in assurance that the Lord will accomplish His plans through me for His greater purposes.

By the way, my resolve to trust the Lord was tested when there were only 13 people registered two weeks before the 5K. I held fast to faith in the Lord and chose to be okay with being uncomfortable. I experienced peace during the uncertainty, and the event came together wonderfully in the last few days.

As long as we live on this earth, there will be a battle between worry and faith. We can learn to trust the Lord no matter what happens. Victory comes when we decide it’s okay to be uncomfortable.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take (Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT).

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You that Your plans are greater than I can see. Help me to trust You when things don’t go according to my plans. Teach me to banish worry and choose to have faith in You. Accomplish your purposes for my family and ministry through me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

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Posted in Faith, Personal Development

How to Stop Worry In Its Track

My husband was late. Thirty minutes had passed since his typical arrival, and I hadn’t heard a word from him. His cell phone went straight to voice mail and he hadn’t responded to my texts. I tried to busy myself and not worry about him. My hands were active, but my mind was racing with possible tragic scenarios.

Perhaps he was in an accident.
Or maybe he had a heart attack and nobody was around.
Or he was involved with a younger woman.
Or he had been mugged and shot.

I settled on the health issue and dismissed the other situations. Before my husband walked through the door, I had imagined myself as a widow with no place to live and no place to go. When he arrived, he was greeted by an emotional wreck. I had allowed worry to run roughshod through my mind and it had taken control.

Worry—(noun) the act of tormenting oneself with or suffering from disturbing thoughts.

Worry starts out subtly and, if left unchecked, can grow into enormous proportions. There is nothing about worry that is positive. It is problem oriented, focuses on the negative, presumes worse case scenarios, and is without hope. The root of worry is a lack of trust in God and His goodness, or what He has promised in His Word.

Some people seem to think that worry simply can’t be helped. “It’s a normal part of life and everyone does it.” Contrary to the opinion of these habitual worriers, we can ward off worry. It does not have to rob us of peace and health. We can thrive, even as we face difficult situations.

The following are steps that I recommend to stop worry in its tracks.

Be aware of your worries. Before you can stop worry, you need to recognize when you are worrying. Some people wear a rubber band on their wrist and snap it every time they realize they are entertaining anxious thoughts. Some people make tally marks in a journal or electronic device. It may surprise you how often you worry. In addition, take note of the things you worry about. What are the areas that cause the greatest amount of worry?

Turn worries into prayers. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” As soon as you recognize that you are worrying, refocus your attention on the Lord.

Declare Scripture over your problems. God’s Word is powerful and transforms our thinking. Find promises that address your situation and speak them out loud when worry rears its ugly head. Choose to believe what the Lord says rather than entertaining worry.

Learn to relax. Prolonged worrying can have significant effect on health. It impairs the immune system and can cause symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, headaches, fatigue, rapid heart rate, muscle tension, inability to concentrate, and more. Practice deep breathing techniques and meditate on God’s Word to relieve tension. Find activities that help you unwind.

Don’t allow worry to steal from you. By retraining your thought patterns, you can turn your concerns over to the Lord before they grow into worry and anxiety.

In what areas of your life are you prone to worry? What steps can you take today to stop worry in its tracks and walk in God’s peace and calm assurance?

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me. Teach me to cast all my anxieties on You because You care for me. Help me to trust You in all things, to be still and know that You are God. In Jesus’ name.