When Feeling Overwhelmed, Focus on What You Can Control

By March 21, 2020Church, Leadership

As human beings, we like to be in control. There is a (not-so-small) part of us that wants to know every detail and to have every answer … about every problem … every single time!

In dealing with the current realities of COVID-19, I’m reminded that there are two types of situations in life:

  • Those that we can control
  • Those that we cannot control

Since it’s human nature to want to be in control, it’s easy to get anxious about the things we cannot control. We worry about what the weather will be like in two weeks or if there will be long security lines at the airport. In reality, we cannot control the weather or how many other people might be traveling. The more we focus on the things we cannot control, the more anxious and overwhelmed we will feel.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things we do have control over. If I’m having an outside event and am worried about the weather, I can have a back-up plan. If I’m anxious about how long the airport security lines might be, I can simply arrive earlier than normal.

By focusing on the things we can control, we will worry less about things we cannot control. We will feel empowered rather than powerless. In my own life, when I begin to feel overwhelmed, I often notice that I am reacting to situations rather than proactively addressing them.

Twice in the Gospel of John, Jesus promises a bold peace to his disciples.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

He promises a peace that is so real and so steadfast that his followers won’t have to live in fear. But they will have to take action. Notice what Jesus taught right before making these promises:

  • If you love, keep my commands (John 14:15)
  • Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them (John 14:23)
  • The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you (John 14:26)
  • All this I have told you so that you will not fall away (John 16:1)
  • Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete (John 16:24)

Jesus never promised no problems. He did promise access to a divine peace that transcends problems, and understanding (Philippians 4:7).

We cannot control someone’s else behavior, the rising and falling of the stock market, or pandemics. If we choose to dwell on situations outside of our control, we will not be doing the one thing Jesus asked:

Be obedient in the areas you can control.

As far as it depends on you, do the right thing. When you have the opportunity to take action, take action – don’t allow yourself to become paralyzed by the things you cannot change.

Experience and Background

  • 25+ years of senior leadership experience
  • masters in management and leadership
  • presenter at the WFX National Conference
  • former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
  • helped start 2 for-profit tech companies

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