One of the unspoken issues that many people face today is that of pressure. Men especially face pressure to perform at their jobs or assignments, pressure to please their spouse or significant other, pressure to provide for their families, pressure to pretend in order to keep up with the Joneses, pressure to satisfy peers, friends or coworkers, and pressure to protect their investments, inheritance legacy or way of life.
While we all face pressure, how we deal with pressure makes the difference between success and failure. Athletes are applauded for their ability to withstand pressure from an opponent or the crowd in an attempt to make the last-second shot or sink the final putt to win the tournament. Soldiers are saluted for the courage they show under pressure while under attack from the enemy in an attempt to complete the mission. And physicians are praised for their ability to successfully perform emergency surgery under pressure of the patient coding on the table.
Understanding that we are not all athletes or soldiers or physicians, we can still choose to perform well under pressure in our own unique situations. Failure to do so could be catastrophic to ourselves and those around us. In physical science, if pressure is applied to an object from the inside, the object will explode. If pressure is exerted from the outside, the object will implode, causing collateral damage either way. The same can be said of human beings exposed to pressure. We can either explode onto others and cause damage to relationships, or we can implode within and cause a mental breakdown, sickness, heart attack or stroke, and even death.
However, there are steps we can take to mitigate the negative effects of pressure and protect ourselves and our relationships.
The first thing we can do is pray. Matt. 11:28 says, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Here Jesus invites us to take our burdens to Him in prayer. Joseph Scriven’s poem (later turned into a hymn) so aptly states, “O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer!” One of the most effective things we can do when faced with pressure is to pray and ask God to help relieve the pressure.
Next, we can prioritize. Since we cannot do everything, we should seek to spend our time doing those things that are important and urgent, followed by those things that are important but not urgent, followed by those things that are urgent but not important, and finally those things that are neither urgent nor important. Learning not to “sweat the small stuff” will go a long way in helping to relieve undue pressure in our lives.
Then we can prepare. The great quarterback for the Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers once said about pressure, “For me, it’s always been about preparation, and the more prepared I can be each week, the less pressure I feel and the more confident I am. As your confidence grows, it’s only natural that the pressure you feel diminishes.” Being prepared to perform can go a long way toward relieving the pressure to perform.
In addition, we can partner. Rather than succumbing to the temptation to face our pressure situations on our own, we can reduce the pressure if we partner with someone else—be it a doctor, therapist, spouse or a trusted friend. We just need someone who can serve as a resource or a sounding board to help us release the stress in a positive, healthy way.
Lastly, we can engage in physical activity. Physical activity, especially exercise, produces endorphins which are chemicals in the brain that trigger a positive feeling in the body that can lead to a positive and energizing outlook on life. Whether it’s walking, running, playing basketball, lifting weights, doing cardio, hitting a golf ball, or punching a bag, there are many things we can do physically to “let off some steam” and relieve the pressure.
As we begin to employ some of the aforementioned strategies, then in spite of the pressure placed upon us by society and the pressure we place on ourselves, we can have an easier time fighting the effects of pressure on our lives. By so doing, we will be making our lives more manageable and more healthful.
Men’s Ministry Resources
Through Christ, there is hope and help for dealing with all types of pressure and addictions, including substances, processes and activities that are out of balance in a person’s life.
The Journey to Wholeness, sponsored by Adventist Recovery Ministries, is a Christ-centered recovery group ministry that follows the 12-step process.
Resources for starting a men’s ministry in your church or community are also available through AdventSource. 800.328.0525
Roger Wade is director of Church Ministries for the Mid-America Union Conference.