The pressure of leadership in the business and ministry world has taken its toll on our health. Blood pressure, cholesterol, weight, and lack of sleep are part of too many conversations with our doctors. The sobering reality is that food, medicine, exercise, and alcohol choices related to dealing with stress are causing many of the health, career, and relational consequences. We justify the choices we are making in order to cope, thinking it is the only way we know to keep going, and we must keep going. And if these stresses are not regularly rolled over to the Lord, our anxiety grows.
Ministry financial pressures in particular have been stressful for me over the years. Building out the Wycliffe Campus in Orlando 20 years ago, trying to launch a $100M campaign at The Seed Company, and more recently completing the Faith and Liberty Discovery Center for American Bible Society in Philadelphia have all been points of stress as a CEO. And quite often these financial pressures are mixed with other stresses happening in other domains at the same time.
With gratitude for excerpts from Christopher Littlefield, Harvard Business Review, because he points out there is a change of focus we can intentionally make that will help reduce anxiety and stress. It’s also our choice. Gratitude. Check out how biblical HBR can be!
He writes: “Research has shown that gratitude is so important. We experience gratitude when we shift our focus from what we don’t have to what we do, and when we take time to appreciate and be thankful for those who have contributed to the abundance in our lives. Nearly a decade of research by Dr. Robert Emmons — the world’s leading scientific expert on gratitude — and others has found that people who have regular gratitude practices are healthier, happier, and have better relationships. Further research suggests that gratitude is also key in helping individuals and teams persevere in challenging tasks.”
Ten Questions for a 2023 Gratitude Journal:
1. What have I gotten to learn recently that has helped me grow?
2. What opportunities do I currently have that I am grateful for?
3. What physical abilities do I have but take for granted?
4. What did I see today or over the last month that was beautiful?
5. Who at work am I happy to see each day and why?
6. Who is a person that I don’t speak to often, but, if I lost them tomorrow, it would be devastating? (Take this as a cue to reach out today!)
7. What am I better at today than I was a year ago?
8. What material object do I use every day that I am thankful for having?
9. What has someone done for me recently that I am grateful for?
10. What are the three things I am grateful for right now?
Rita, my wife, has suggested journaling gratitude to her counseling clients for many years and at the beginning of this year she suggested it for us. So, in January we both created a Gratitude Journal. It’s been super easy to note the things that come to mind along the way this year. Here we are 8 months into the year and the content is so rich. The 10 questions above have been cut and pasted right into my journal for even richer content.
So please join us in a gratitude journey for a healthier finish to 2023!!
“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess. 5:16-18
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