Do You Have A Stressful Job?

Recently, my visit to the Emergency room had me answering this question, “Do you have a stressful job?” It was also one of the questions that came up on my other 3 visits as they tried to figure out what has going on with my soaring blood pressure and funky symptoms. I assured the doctor, ahem, doctors, that my job is no more stressful than any other job. A few days after my visits to the ER as the question kept coming back to my mind, I realized that the day I first went in was also a day that had me dealing with some literal life and death issues involving friends, phone calls to police, doctors and others. That single realization was like taking the cork out of a bottle and little by little I’m trying to be honest about the level of stress I live with.

How much stress can a person who only works one day a week possibly be under?

There’s an interesting moment in one of the letter’s in the New Testament where Paul, apostle, church planter, follower of Jesus, is listing all the things he’s suffered as a result of his vocation. He’s not just being whiney. Hopefully I’m not either. The thing is that stress seems to be part of the package and it goes all the way back to the start: a history of 2000 years of stress. Nice.

Here’s what Paul was dealing with: The Corinthian church that he was writing to (contrary to modern perceptions of apostles, authority and the Church) were giving Paul a lot of stick. They questioned what he had already written to them and were even asking, basically, “Who do you think you are?”

So Paul does what a leader should do. Rather than puff up his chest and say things like, “Touch not the Lord’s anointed!” or claim some authority by virtue of “position” or title, he simply goes over a list, a story, of what he’s suffered, to say, “See how I’ve loved you?” And like Tevye’s wife in “Fiddler on the Roof”, he goes over all he’s done for them to prove that his stake in their lives is not for selfish, self-interests but for love. He loves them and his life proves it – which stands in sharp contrast to those who would tell them only what they wanted to hear or things they’ve never heard before only to get a following for themselves regardless of the welfare of the Church.

This whole thing comes up again and again in Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians and here’s a taste of it from chapter 11, “…24 Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked. Once I spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea. 26 I have traveled on many long journeys. I have faced danger from rivers and from robbers. I have faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles. I have faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas. And I have faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not.[c] 27 I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.
28 Then, besides all this, I have the daily burden of my concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my feeling that weakness? Who is led astray, and I do not burn with anger?”

“…the daily burden of my concern for all the churches…” Right up there with stoning, shipwreck and starvation. We didn’t cover this in Bible College.

So what are the things I find stressful about what I do? I’ve been thinking about this for a few weeks now, working very hard to be honest with myself and not just write things off or stuff them and tell myself I’m just being a whiner. Being honest with myself, at least in this area, has proven to be very, very difficult. I’m realizing that I’ve been neck deep in denial as the bar for ‘normal’ kept moving to accommodate my reality. I also think this has something to do with my present but is just as much about an accumulation of my past. I may not remember every meal I’ve ever had but each one has made me who I am today.

I’m making a list, a reflective compilation of the stuff I’ve accumulated over the years. I get stressed out just writing them down so I’m pretty sure I’m on to something.

What about you? Do you have stressful job/life? Have you been moving the bar to unhealthy places and calling it the new ‘normal’?

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About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in bible college, Christianity, Church, Confession, denial, God, Leadership, Life, ministry, questions, reality, Reflective, religion, stress, truth. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Do You Have A Stressful Job?

  1. Nathan Rousu says:

    “Have you been moving the bar to unhealthy places and calling it the new ‘normal’?”

    I think that’s a great question not only for individuals, but corporately / socially as well. I think the answer to that question on all those levels is ‘yes’.

    I also think this question is one that could use a lot of exploration. Something is clearly not right with the way we’ve been living.

  2. Don Rousu says:

    I think stress in a fallen humanity, with the whole creation subjected to futility (Rom. 8:20), is unavoidable if we are serious about being engaged in the clashing of the two kingdoms. However, I think our greatest failing is to practice the discipline of rest. “Come away with Me, and rest awhile,” He said.

  3. TJ says:

    “How much stress can a person who only works one day a week possibly be under?”
    You’re kidding..right? The line is good evidence that you are the King of da’ Nile….
    You’re on the clock, expecting something, someone… 7 days a week…24 hours a day….it’s the nature of your ‘job’.
    You may look as calm as the swans gliding on the water…but underneath the surface, I’d bet the mind is racing as fast as the swan’s feet are paddling…
    Learn To Be Still….great phrase from the Eagles song…
    It’s just another day in paradise
    As you stumble to your bed
    You’d give anything to silence
    Those voices ringing in your head
    You thought you could find happiness
    Just over that green hill
    You thought you would be satisfied
    But you never will-
    Learn to be still

    We are like sheep without a shepherd
    We don’t know how to be alone
    So we wander ’round this desert
    And wind up following the wrong gods home
    But the flock cries out for another
    And they keep answering that bell
    And one more starry-eyed messiah
    Meets a violent farewell-
    Learn to be still
    Learn to be still

    Now the flowers in your garden
    They don’t smell so sweet
    Maybe you’ve forgotten
    The heaven lying at your feet

    There are so many contridictions
    In all these messages we send
    (We keep asking)
    How do I get out of here
    Where do I fit in?
    Though the world is torn and shaken
    Even if your heart is breakin’
    It’s waiting for you to awaken
    And someday you will-
    Learn to be still
    Learn to be still

    You just keep on runnin’
    Keep on runnin’

  4. nobusysignal says:

    I don’t think you just work one day a week. Never known a Minister/Pastor who could ever accomplished that feat! lol.

  5. Scott says:

    Here are 3 things that can make any workplace stressful:

    http://blog.cubecheck.com/2010/07/09/3-things-that-create-a-bad-work-life/

    Wrote this after many years in a VERY stressful big corp environment.

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