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How to Handle Pressure

Five practical guidelines to help you handle pressure better:

1) Get your perspective right.

When you are under pressure, it’s difficult to see things accurately. A friend of mine asks: “Is it arsenic?” Meaning, is this situation really life or death?

Well, that saying might not work for you, but it helps me remember that sometimes the pressure I feel, though real, is about something not as critical as my emotions make it appear. So, ask the question, “What is at stake?” Many times the answer will help you get a clearer perspective.

2) Tend to your soul.

Let God carry what you can’t carry. A verse that has meant much to me since seminary is:

“Jesus replied, ‘What is impossible with men is possible with God.’” Mark 18:27

When you believe God for big things, you are usually over your head and need His help. Yes, God helps you do everything you do, but you know what I mean, there are some “big rocks” in ministry that you just can’t lift. You and I need to trust God that He’s got it! There is a peace that covers your soul when you learn to let God carry what you can’t.

3) Know your healthy relief valve.

Here are two important questions that help you find relief when you need it.

1. How do you play? This isn’t about everyday playfulness, that’s great all the time. I mean how do you relax? What restores you and what is it that you just love to do?

2. Who will help you? Every leader needs a few people in the church, staff or volunteer leaders, they can count on; friends who are full of grace and will help you when you need it most.

4) Right-size the problem.

Pressure causes you to “over-size” the problem. I find that if I write it out in a succinct format, perhaps even in bullet points, it helps. For example, one pastor was panicked and said: “We need to recruit a ton of ushers!” I asked how many is a ton and he said he didn’t know the exact number. So I asked him to get the exact number of ushers he needed and come back to tell me. The next day he reported “13” and smiled, acknowledging it was very doable now that he right-sized the problem.

5) Lean into it.

There are times, God-ordained times, when the pressure is high and your margin is low and God says, I want you to lean into it. I’m going to grow you. This is often a composite of the previous things working together. You get your perspective right. You tend to your soul. You practice your healthy relief valve. You right-size the problem. … Then you and God take new territory.

There is nothing in this post that will make your pressure disappear. But these practical points will help you take a different approach that ultimately helps you handle your leadership pressure better.