Is the pressure getting to you this holiday season?
Is the pressure getting to you this holiday season? (Flickr )

Christmas will be here in two days! Are you done with your shopping? I'm not! Yikes!

It seems strange that pressure rises in "The most wonderful time of the year!"

But it does. 

Pressure is experienced in different ways, similar to blood pressure in the human body.

  • 120/80 (or lower) is the normal range.
  • 140/90 and higher is considered hypertension (too high)
  • 90/60 and lower is considered hypotension (too low)

There is a similar concept in leadership when it comes to pressure. 

There will always be pressure—that's normal. It's part of life and leadership. So how do you know if it's too high or too low?

When the pressure level for leaders is too high we can experience:

  • Faulty thinking
  • Discouragement
  • Impatience
  • Frustration
  • Lowered confidence

When the pressure level for leaders is too low we can experience:

  • Lack of motivation
  • Stagnation
  • Little creativity
  • Limited resourcefulness
  • Lack of productivity

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Three common categories of pressures to be aware of:  

Which one gets to you most? By knowing, you are better able to navigate the pressure to a normal and healthy level:

1. Personal: At home. Let's be honest; sometimes the pressures at home rise faster than at work. It might be a stressed marriage or a child who is distant from you. When you add that to the holiday mix, the pressure can shoot through the roof.

Or perhaps it's health-related. There's nothing like a health scare to increase normal pressures. Then, of course, we all understand the financial pressure and seem to do a better-than-average job at Christmas of increasing that pressure.

2. Professional: At work. The church is a complex living organism and organization. The multi-layered expectations upon you between the congregation you serve, the boss for whom you work and your self-imposed goals can push pressure to a high mark.

Performance is important. We are all paid to get a job done. But learning to balance priorities is critical in particular through the holidays. Get done what must be done, and the rest will be there waiting for you after some time off.

3. Private: In your soul. This one is less common, but only because we don't talk about it as much as we should. At times, there are battles that wage within. Temptations, secrets or just trying to go it alone because you are the leader.

We don't have to be messing up for pressure to rise, either. When I'm in a season of not hearing God's voice, my internal stresses rise. I feel responsible as a leader to hear from God, and so if I'm not, that produces a sort of spiritual pressure. How about you?

I certainly don't have all the answers, but I can share what I know helps me. By knowing which of the above kinds of pressures you currently face, you can adapt the following three ideas to help you most.

Note: My assumption is that most of us deal with pressures that are too high rather than too low. So the following deals with increasing holiday pressure:

1. Slow down. This can seem impossible, especially during the holidays, but it's necessary. Practice a few little things such as driving slower, letting someone go in line before you or giving that last parking spot at the mall to someone else. That helps your blood pressure to go down, not up.

We all know that quiet time in prayer and Scripture makes a life-changing difference. Don't let the holidays crowd it out. Do your best to take the time to sit with God and pray, think, journal, worship—any path that works for you.

2. Identify your healthy relief-value systems. Here are two important questions from a previous post on pressure that help you find relief when you need it.

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 you just love to do?

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

3. Lean into the promises of God. I can't say it better than this:

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with gratitude, make your requests known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will protect your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is any praise, think on these things. Do those things which you have both learned and received, and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you" (Phil. 4:6-9).

Dan Reiland is the executive pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as executive pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as vice president of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY.

For the original article, visit danreiland.com.

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