Monday, September 14, 2009

Stress Reduction: Spreading Out the Workload

I got this message in my email this morning and had to pass it along. I have been reading about too many of you with too many things on their plate and either not enough time or not enough help. I hope this message by Charles Swindoll helps to put some perspective on this, and enjoy!

Stress Reduction: Spreading Out the Workload
by Charles R. Swindoll

Exodus 18:13-27

We've been talking about the very common and very real problem of stress. Today I'd like to tackle a practical suggestion for stress-reduction: spreading out the workload.

There is a side of stress that is easily overlooked, and that is trying to do too much ourselves. All of us have a limit. If those huge freight trucks on the highway have a load limit, you can be sure each one of us does, too. When we try to do more than we were designed to do, our level of anxiety immediately begins to rise.

Moses is an example of one who fell into this very trap. He was surrounded by an endless number of needs, people, demands, requests for decisions, and problems to solve. On one occasion, his father-in-law, Jethro, paid him a visit and witnessed the load Moses was living under.

Moses' father-in-law said to him, "The thing that you are doing is not good. You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone." (Exodus 18:17-18)

The classic account of an ancient workaholic! This wise father-in-law comes right out and faces Moses with the truth: "It isn't good . . . you'll wear yourself out." Jethro saw the whole thing objectively. He saw his son-in-law on the raw edge of exhaustion. The anxiety brought on by that much work would soon take a toll on Moses. He couldn't continue doing it all alone.

Before we proceed, let me ask you: Does this sound like your biography? Are you the type who tends to take on too much . . . to handle the demands all alone . . . to hang in there without much thought of passing the load around? To quote Jethro's counsel, "The thing that you are doing is not good." Perhaps this is the bottom-line reason you've become so anxious in recent days. Be honest enough to admit it if it's true. That's the first (and most important) step in the process of change.

As Moses listened, Jethro continued:

"You shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain. . . . Let them judge the people at all times; and let it be that every major dispute they will bring to you, but every minor dispute they themselves will judge. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. . . ."

So Moses listened to his father-in-law and did all that he had said. (vv. 21-24)

Moses was smart to listen. He was hearing the advice of a wise man. Now don't misunderstand. The plan was not that he should back out of the scene completely. No, that wouldn't have been best. His presence was still extremely valuable. But he was to determine those things he should handle---the really weighty issues---then pass around to qualified people the balance of the workload.

Did you notice that those who were to help him needed to be well qualified? Read again the specifics in verse 21:

  • Able men who fear God
  • Men of truth
  • Those who hate dishonest gain
  • Leader types

Had Moses chosen the wrong kind of delegates to help handle the workload, his stress would have increased, not decreased.

He did as Jethro had suggested:

Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens. They judged the people at all times; the difficult dispute they would bring to Moses, but every minor dispute they themselves would judge. (Exodus 18:25-26)

This, no doubt, enabled him to have many more effective years of meaningful leadership. We would do well to follow his example.

But What about You?

The real issue, however, is not the anxiety of Moses. It is you and your stress. What is it that makes you think you are capable enough to handle more than you should? Why do you feel the need to continue living under the heavy weight of anxiety when it seems so natural to spread the work among several others?

I challenge you: Release your grip on all those details! Find a few qualified people to help you get the job done.

This same principle works when you are under the pressure of an intense trial in your life. No need to tough it out alone. Share it. Let a few people enter into that lonely experience with you. They can stand by you and provide an enormous amount of support, relieving much of the stress you would otherwise be enduring alone.


Denise said...

Amen, this was really good. I appreciate you sharing it sweetie.

Greg C said...

I have a really hard time letting go of my troubles and the load that I put on myself. I know it is all self induced. Perhaps if I had a friend who I could confide in, things would be better for me.

I did however let a few things go this weekend. If you read my post about all that went wrong, near the end I just decided to say enough is enough. I dropped what I was doing and went back fishing with my son. So are you ready to hear my real problems?

RCUBEs said...

Trials to me make us remember that we can't really be independent. We are constantly reminded that God is just there waiting for us to call on Him. And sometimes, He provides the answers by using some of His children. We are so used to doing things/services for others but I think sometimes, it's hard for us to accept others' help/services. Thanks for sharing this. God bless.

Mich said...

Great post, friend!

It is so easy to let stress control things.

It is so easy not to share the load sometimes.

Thanks for the reminder...

Happy Monday!

Wendi said...

I needed to read that. I am easily stressed out, most of it my own doing!

Yolanda said...

Amen, release my grip as well as my thoughts to think I can do it better or best as well as to control.

Love to you Miss Kat!

Still Learning said...

What a great idea! Off the top of my head I can think of 4 or 5 wonderful ladies who would love to help out in any of my women's ministry duties that may become difficult for me in a rough patch. I love it! Thanks for sharing.

Kathleen said...

Love it! Chuck Swindoll is a long time favorite of mine anyway. He has such a gift for putting things in perspective, and often with humor.

I must say, my life is largely stress-less at this stage - - probably because I so stressed myself out at 25, and 38, and 42 that there's no more left.

Actually, learning to be still and know He is God helped immensely.


Unknown said...

Thank you for sharing this!

Teresa @ Grammy Girlfriend said...

a great post and one..I needed to read TODAY....have some deadlines coming up and too much to do with little time...and even less energy..

Sea Glass said...

Give it up, let it go. So hard to do. We feel alone and forget we aren't. We want to talk to a friend, but don't want to bother them and sound like we are whining. Unfortunately, too many of us hold it all in and end up in the corner, on pills, forgetting that the stress and emotional stress we put on our bodies is not healthy. Thanks for this reminder Kat.

Mari said...

This is a wonderful thing to share and it's something I needed to read. I tend to try to do too much myself. That's putting it nicely, but it could also be called wanting to be in control. Thanks for the lesson!

Beth E. said...

Sounds like a great idea, but I'm all alone at work! There's no one to whom I can delegate. It's just me and our pastor....AND, we now have an empty nest at home. So, I've actually taken on more jobs...things I used to delegate to our sons. Hmmm...a definite downside to the boys being away at college. ;-)

Beth Herring said...

Isn't this a great message to all of us!

We indeed need to reduce our stress. Usually the stress is self-induced in my case. I expect too much out of my own self.

THanks Kat!

momstheword said...

Boy are you right! Many people have trouble giving up that control, I know I do sometimes, lol!

Or we just don't want to "bother" people so we don't let them help us during a difficult time.

When my dad died people brought us food and I have to say that it was just so nice to have them do that and really did lower the stress levels. People want to help and we needed to let the sometimes.

Love the part about being transparent as we're not allowing people to see how God is working in our lives. That is important too.

Just Be Real said...

Kat, so very good! Letting go is so very hard, but a necessity! Thank you again for this post dear one. Blessings to you and yours! You are special!

Loren said...

What an excellent article and you are right....everywhere we turn it seems, this is what we hear! I need to pass this on to my hubby! He is notorious for carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders!

Thanks for sharing this and I will definately pass it on!

love and missed you !!

God a Have Faith said...

Great article! You know that I do this all of the time! It seems like a never ending cycle of stress about work, stress about home. My neck hurts from stressing too much and carrying such a heavy load. I need to just throw it all off of my shoulders and give it to God.

Thanks for reminding me again, and again, and again. LOL...

christy rose said...

This is such wisdom Kat! It is not easy asking for help sometimes. But God does not want us to be loners. He wants us to depend upon Him and on each other. Great post!
Love, Christy