Many of us are balancing school, work, family, friends, and busy schedules. I find myself wondering if we can really find peace in the midst of these various obligations. I believe this is a struggle for many people in our community. Finding peace is an extremely emotional endeavor, and if we don’t develop emotional health during challenging seasons, we may lose our sense of purpose, calling, and vision.
Some of you are aware of the personal challenges facing my family. For the past six months, my son-in-law, Jared McKinney, has been in the fight of his life. At the age of 29, in the midst of planning to plant a church in Billings, Montana, his life was interrupted by a rare form of leukemia. If you know him or have followed his story, you know that Jared’s faith remains strong and his resolve relentless. He is a true inspiration to many!
In his book "Leadership Pain: The Classroom for Growth", author Sam Chand says, “When you interpret your pain as bigger – more important, more threatening, more comprehensive – than your vision, you’ll redefine your vision down to the threshold of your pain.” In Jared’s life, I have seen him struggle, but I have never heard a word of complaint. Why? Because he knows his present suffering will eventually produce something greater through his life. Managing our pain level is difficult. The more our influence and responsibility grows, so does our potential for experiencing pain. We must learn to find peace in the middle of the pain.
The fight for a peaceful spirit can be waged in the midst of physical pain and loss, but is also a battle we fight in our minds when others disappoint, hurt, or provoke us. We are warned against reacting in anger in such circumstances by the writer of Ecclesiastes, who says, “Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools” (Eccles. 7:9). I have witnessed leaders “lose it” over the simplest issues, causing irreparable damage. It is easy to act foolishly when anger rises up in our spirits. I believe there are a few healthy activities we can engage in to guard our spirits and maintain God’s peace.
First, build healthy spiritual habits. I absolutely believe God wants to talk to us through His Spirit. But we must make the time to calm our own spirits and listen. For me, I have an appointment on my calendar every morning to make sure that I plan for time with the Lord and that nothing else gets on my schedule before then.
Second, identify healthy distractions. I believe we need healthy distractions to keep us from dwelling on the demands of life. Hobbies, time with friends, and perhaps a Sabbath day can realign our spirits and bring us peace.
Third, pursue and cultivate a relationship with a leadership coach. Everyone needs someone to speak truth into their life and help them see the bigger picture. Having a person we can be honest with about life often releases the pressure we feel in times of struggle. One suggestion about finding a mentor or coach is that we don’t always have to ask someone to be our mentor, as that may be too great of a commitment. Instead, we can simply find the time to be around the person(s) that we would like to learn from and be prepared with a few good questions. That way, the relationship is both edifying and feels more like a good friendship for both parties.
Lord, the pressure in life is real and sometimes overwhelming. We need Your peace that passes understanding to guard our hearts and minds. Give wisdom to those who need to see the bigger picture of their circumstances. Help us embrace our struggles in order to become strong, relentless, and full of Christ-like character. Amen.