Shownotes: Anxiety Meter Check
What’s your anxiety level right now? Is it 0 or 1 or is it up to 100 or somewhere in between? Some people manage to keep it to below 10. Low anxiety. Some people hover in the 90’s. High anxiety. What about you? When last did you check your anxiety meter and what did it say to you? Did you check it today?
And, what about your church members, or people to whom you minister in one form or another? What is the level of their anxiety meter like?
We absorb some of what is going on around us. When people come to us in an anxious state, some of it rubs off. It’s like going into the water. Even if you don’t swim, some of the water stays on us for a while. That’s indirect anxiety. That’s one reason why we have to be constant in prayer so that we, as it were, mitigate some of the effects from others.
So, why are people anxious. Why might their anxiety meter be reading high?
There is a lot going on around us. We are in the midst of change that is felt in different ways. Do you feel it? Have you noticed? We have a sense that there is more going on than meets the eye. There is uncertainty.
This is the world in which we live, in which we do ministry. A world of change. A world with a question mark.
4 factors that can raise your anxiety meter level
a. Expectations we put on ourselves. We want to do our best, hopefully do our best for God. The problem comes when we cross over from doing our best as our skills and situations allow, understanding that we are human and not perfect; when we cross from there to perfectionism, something that is mostly unattainable and will always produce anxiety as we seek to perform up to scratch. Expectations of self that are not tempered by realism coupled with God’s grace raise the level of the anxiety meter.
b. The expectations of others. This one is serious too. You see, other people evaluate us. Other people pay us. Outside of that, you genuinely want to do and be your best by them. So some of the same things apply here as when we talk about expectations of ourselves. Context.
What does best look like given everything with by which you are surrounded, the resources that you have? What does best look like to God? And that’s why last week in “Whatever You Do, Don’t Lose Sight of Your Call,” it was so important to talk about call. The God who called you, called us, is full of grace and compassion.
If this doesn’t help to lower our anxiety level, I don’t know what will. Think about it. And of course, if we have failed people, we should ask their forgiveness also and seek to help them understand what happened.
c. One more thing about expectations and anxiety. We live in a world of unrealistic expectations. Seriously. Above all, remember ultimately you answer to a gracious God. People come after God. Take a pause and lower that meter.
#2 Some tasks are more stressful than others depending on our skill sets.
Take for instance, some people enjoy visiting members, the sick, the shuts ins and so forth. Others, not so much. They are not people persons. Some people enjoy the administrative tasks. For others, that’s just a pain. And the list goes on.
Know that the God who called you is in the equipping business. So, turn to God for equipping. Be honest. In addition, do it at the time when your internal resources are at a high rather than when they are depleted.
Slow down. Stop. Breathe deeply of God’s love. Ask God for strength and wisdom. Good. Go forth now.
#3 What we watch, listen to, and read.
These days, everything has to be dramatic, earth changing and anxiety inducing. Listen to the tone. The simplest matters are cast as momentous. A lot of it is puerile. A lot of it is hearsay, commonly known as gossip. And yet, it is presented to us as if it is authentic and the world and our lives are affected by it.
While there are some major things happening, this is not readily available. All in all we are being conditioned to be hyper and hyper anxious, waiting for the next shoe to drop. The sad thing is that it is seeping into how we communicate with each other on and off line.
There is a reason that Jesus said to his disciples:
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest (Luke 12:22–26)?
#4 Check our environment.
With whom do we surround yourselves? Do we surround ourselves with “woe is me” people? Do we surround ourselves with people who complain a lot? Do we surround ourselves with people for whom the glass will never be full or even half full?
Now, it must be pointed out that some people do have a sense of impending disaster. They are able to warn others. However, knowing this does not mean we have to climb up to 100 on the anxiety meter. Instead, we should take deep breaths, utter deep prayers, and follow God’s guidance to know what to do in the face of what is coming.
And so, it always comes back to prayer. Prayer is critical if we are going to keep our anxiety meter low. We must keep it low for as our anxiety meter goes up our health goes down, as does our ability to act rationally and effectively and be fully in the place for God to best use us. Anxiety can cripple you. Worst of all, it takes our eyes off of God.
3 Ways to Lower Your Anxiety Meter
How then do we pray?
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4–7).
a. Name things. We must be honest with ourselves and God and be specific about what is causing us to be uneasy.
b. Ask God to show us the source of our uneasiness and take us past it. Then,
c. Turn it over to God and ask God to give us release so that we truly turn it over.
d. Next, lean on God for strength.
#2 The Bible.
a. Spend time in it. Read it frequently. Let’s study it for our own edification and not only because we have to preach a sermon or write a lesson.
b. Know it.
c. Ask God to give you a verse or verses that you can memorize and use when you feel your anxiety level rising.
a. We gain strength and encouragement from the testimonies of those who have gone before.
b. Some of this we will get from the Bible. In addition, we read the biographies and autobiographies of saints who have gone before. Check out the testimonies of our modern-day Christian martyrs around the world. Let’s share our own testimonies with each other; stories about God’s goodness, provision, and deliverance.
As we do this, that is, as we pray, spend time in the Bible, gain strength from our testimonies, our confidence in God will rise and we will live Isaiah 26:3–4:
Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace—
in peace because they trust in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for in the Lord God
you have an everlasting rock.
Thus, we will be living from God’s center.
As you continue today, Be aware of what is going on. Act when necessary as God leads. But, leave the anxiety behind. Rejoice and be thankful, trust and rest in God. And remember what Jesus said before he left:
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful (John 14:27).
Get a sheet of paper or use your computer or tablet—whatever works best. Divide it into two. In one column, without stopping, write down everything that causes you anxiety until you run out. And then go back and next to each one, write why, i.e., the source of the anxiety. Next, pray over each one, release it to God, ask God for help to truly release it, and then give God thanks.
Photo from mageParty / Pixabay.com
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Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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