Towards the end of last year I set some new goals as I was working on my business venture and I began to see signs of success, as much as I was excited about what the future might look like if things go according to plan, I also felt a sense of being overwhelmed with the amount of work, the level of consistency and the demand and challenge to my character that I am going to face in pursuing this venture. The only way I could describe my thoughts are that I was overwhelmed. I know that I had read about this and taught about dealing with our emotions but knowing things is different from applying it to your own life, hence I wrote this as a blog post to myself with practical tips for me to use as I deal with this situation. Below a the 7 steps that I have gone through to deal with this issue and I would love to hear from you and read your comments.
- 1. Getting Overwhelmed Could be a sign that it is time to grow
Most of us love our comfort zone, but God’s plan for us is that we grow to maturity, in scripture, we find that when men and woman were called to be used by God it was usually because God had something out of the norm for them to do. Think of Moses, Gideon, David, Esther, Isaiah, and Peter. The task in front of you is bigger than you. For many of us we are afraid about what God can really do if we yield to his calling and it does get overwhelming. Most reassuring is to see that even Jesus felt overwhelmed: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Mt 26:38
This passage should remind us that being overwhelmed should be because we need to become bigger on the inside, the reason for being overwhelmed should be for a good cause, solving a problem, leaning into a challenging issue or building something for the future that others will benefit from, this shows that your overwhelm is for the right reason.
- 2. Being Overwhelmed should lead us to pray
Jesus is the best model we have on how to deal with our overwhelming situations. He goes to pray, we find that in his prayer he is laying the burden of the task into God’s hand. Paul also stressed that we should take all our petitions to God in prayer (Phil 4:6), Jesus in Mt 11:28 said that we should bring our burdens to him. I would suggest that you either take time to write out a prayer to God so that you can read it out with your emotions involved. We fail to remember that many of the Psalm’s we read out in prayer were songs written by David and others expressing their emotions to God. one of them being: “Hear my cry, O Lord listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you. When my heart gets overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
- 3. Share it with close friends
Jesus also teaches us something very valuable, especially for men, Jesus was vulnerable with his guys, he shares with them how he was feeling. I know this is something I have to work on more and more. Leaders are challenged by this because sometimes they have set up the environment for them to do more listening to other people’s burdens but they don’t have an environment where they can share their own. If so they need to have a few friends that are simply willing to listen, accept, show understanding, and encourage. Leaders should choose safe people in their inner circle and be wise who they share things with as some might find it too troubling. It is important to note that Jesus shares this with Peter, James and John (vs 37) “And taking with him” – this was deliberate.
- 4. Question to get to reality
Sometimes the feeling of being overwhelmed is more in our head than in reality, a good activity to do is to ’empty your head’ this exercise involves you writing down all the things that are bothering you and then ordering them first:
- a) Circle of concern – things that are bothering you but you can’t change.
- b) Circle of Influence – Things you can influence.
You are then going to need to ask yourself some further questions:
- a) Is this something that I can change myself?
- b) Is this something that someone else needs to change or do?
These questions will begin to help you analyse the situation and break them down into bite size chunks. You might also find in the process that somethings aren’t worth worrying about or you actually know how to do what needs to be done you just need a plan. Also writing down what belief is needed for things to work might be helpful as we will see in the next point.
- 5. Hold on to God’s promises
Everything we do is influenced by what we believe about it. A lot of times we are hindered by our lack of belief which pushes us towards fear. We have got to constantly remind ourselves of the Kingdom Story that God created us to have dominion over things on this earth and that those of us that have repented and been baptised into Christ are part of the New Creation. We have been called to be influencer’s in this generation (Mtt 5:13-16) and more important Jesus has promised that ‘I am with you…” God has given us many other promises that we need to embed into our DNA thinking. The work of renewing the mind should be spent on embedding God’s promises for us his people. Writing down scriptures, praying through scriptures and memorising scriptures will help us counter any overwhelming feelings we have.
- 6. Remind yourself of what the future will look like
We are co-creators with Christ Jesus, ushering in what God’s kingdom will look like at the end of time, If what you are overwhelmed with is a good cause, remind yourself that accomplishing the task will give people a picture of what the future will look like. This can also inspire you as well. In addition, we must always constantly keep at the very forefront of our minds that a New Heaven and New Earth is eventually coming and all our labour on this side of life will be rewarded. 1Cor 15:58
- 7. Take Action on One Small step
With all the above said and done, you should have more clarity, a soul that is at peace because you have turned your burdens over to God and a written list of what needs to be addressed and done. The next step is simply to take action on that next step. See God work despite your overwhelm and give him the praise when you see him do immeasurably more than what you can even ask for!