What To Do When You Feel Overwhelmed

It was a season of great tension for me. For over a month, my focus, emotions, and interactions were distracted because I felt overwhelmed. I was consumed by the day-to-day tasks, or a new crisis of the day. My relationships with my family, friends, coworkers, and God suffered. I lost a healthy balance.

But a close friend, Paul Edwards, taught me that when I am most busy, when I feel the most overwhelmed, that is when I need to take some time away to be quiet with the Lord. As leaders, this goes against everything we feel when we are confronted with too much to do in too little time. But we need to be alone with Him—to seek His guidance, peace, and direction. Removing ourselves from the busyness can bring a renewed focus and clarity when making decisions. This may look like taking a long walk, sitting quietly to pray, or taking a day out of the office to retreat with God.

Focus is one of the most important keys to good leadership. And the biggest threat to our focus is busyness and unrest. When I hear people say they are always so busy, I see it as a danger sign. It often indicates poor planning and prioritising skills. Psalm 46:10a (NIV) says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” And the best way to stay rooted in God’s peace and focused on our mission is to understand the importance of the Sabbath.

God gave us the Sabbath as a place of refuge. It is a vital time of replenishment and rest, away from work, to reconnect with Him. The Sabbath was so important to God that He included it in the 10 Commandments, as stated in Exodus, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord  your God” (Exodus 20:8–10, NIV).

I recommend reading The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan, as it will help illustrate the importance of the Sabbath. I also encourage leaders to schedule consistent Sabbath times in advance, as often resting and refocusing requires foresight on our parts as leaders. Otherwise, it’s too easy to put it lower on the to-do list, and push ourselves beyond our limits.

At this beginning of a new year, it may be a good time to be quiet before the Lord, to take refuge in His peace. Encourage your team members to do the same and, together, start the year refocused and rejuvenated to move forward for His glory.

“I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:1–2, NIV).

Article originally published January 2, 2018, in Prison Fellowship International’s PFI Roundtable.

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