"Stressed Out" part 2:
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
May 6, 2007
Main Passage: Luke10:38-42
1. Do you always seem to
be in a hurry?
2. At the end of your day do you often find that your "To do" list
3. Has anyone ever told you to slow down?
4. Do you feel guilty when you relax?
5. Do you even know what it means to relax?
6. Have you ever found yourself scheduled to be in more than one place
at a time?
7. Does the pace of your life have you stressed?
Last week we started a new message series dealing with stress. And we
started out by talking about some general principles for surviving
stress. If you missed last Sunday and you want to catch up, then you
can find that message on our website.
Beginning today, we’re going to get into some of the specific causes of
stress. What are the things that contribute to our stress levels? And
the first one we’re going to talk about is our schedules. Busyness.
Always running here and there trying to get accomplished what needs to
Maybe you’ve felt like the White Rabbit in “Alice in Wonderland”.
"No, no, no, no, no, no, no! I'm overdue! I'm really in a stew! No time
to say goodbye...hello! I'm late! I'm late! I'm late!!"
What a crazy world that we live in. It seems that every hour of every
day is filled to the limit with things that need doing and we never
seem to have enough time to do it all. How often have you caught
yourself wishing for more hours in the day or more days in the week so
that you could finally catch up and finish everything that you are
supposed to do? But regardless of how much time you have, it never
seems to be enough.
What got us in this position? How did we ever get so busy and so
stressed out about everything? Well, there’s always been stress… there
have always been people with far too much to do in far too little time.
But I think there are some unique contributors to our stressed out
busyness today that weren’t as prevalent, say, 50 years ago.
A. Erosion of
We used to be able to
tell the difference between when we were at work and when we were at
home… when we were on the job and when we were off the clock… when we
were supposed to be busy and when it was okay to relax.
And I think the primary culprit that has robbed us of these boundaries
is… technology. Now, don’t get me wrong… I love my technology. Hey,
I’ve got a podcast and a blog and an mp3 player and a cell phone… I use
a laptop and a video projector… I’ve freelanced by designing websites…
I’ve even bought one of those iRobot vacuum cleaners off of eBay.
Technology is not evil. I love my technology.
But… Isn’t it ironic… don’t you think… that in our technological world
we find ourselves getting busier and busier and busier? Modern
technology promised us that all of the new conveniences would save us
time and make our lives easier. But computers, fax machines, the
Internet, and cell phones have increased the pace of our work rather
then reducing it. At home dishwashers, washing machines, vacuums and
microwaves have made life easier in some ways, but all that freed-up
time has been filled up with other chores… with serving on community
committees, with both partners working outside the home, with
schlepping the kids around to hockey, music and school activities, and
a host of other time-consuming activities.
In the U.S. in the 1960s, a sub-committee of the Senate studied the
whole area of time management. And they made this prediction… Because
of the advances of technology, within 20 years or so, people would have
to drastically cut back on how many hours they spent at work and would
have to start retiring earlier. The biggest problem they could foresee
would be what people would do to fill all the extra hours they gained.
In a 1994 Gallop Poll, 72% of the people surveyed believed they would
be working less due to the advances of technology. But in reality, the
opposite has proven true. Since that survey, we now work 22% more hours
and have 8.5 hours less leisure time per month.
[Source: Surviving Busyness by Timothy Smith,
Hey, just in the month of April, I received 1388 emails. Even if most
of them are junk, it still takes a while to sort through them. And when
I go away… even if it’s just for a few days on vacation… I have to
check my email. Otherwise, I’ll be overwhelmed by it when I get home.
And particularly with email and cell phones, it can become very
difficult to maintain boundaries. I mean, you can be on the job while
lying in bed! In fact, this week I was! Part of this message was
written while I was lying in bed. That’s not a good thing, but that’s
what I did. (I guess it’s a good thing that my wife was out of the
country this week.)
The boundaries have eroded.
B. Explosion of
We have more choices
today than ever before… we’ve got more potential vacation destinations,
more channels to watch on TV, more activities to sign the kids up for,
more websites to visit and files to download, and more stuff to sort
through when you go shopping.
In the 1950s, a typical corner store had about 1000 items in stock.
Today, Wal*Mart stocks about 130,000 items. That’s a lot more stuff to
sort through, to compare, to evaluate, and to buy.
And connected to that, we’ve got more stuff filling up our homes.
This is an American statistic, but in the U.S., 10% of households have
things they keep in those rented self-storage facilities. That’s an
increase of 75% in just the past 10 years. And in the past 30 years,
the size of the average house has gone up 50%! Bigger homes and more
stuff in storage.
[Source: It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh, p. 8, 28, 30]
It’s nice to have choices. But the downside is that we’ve become busier
How many times do you
hear about factories laying off 30% of their work force while promising
to maintain current production levels? Those 70% left over have to do a
lot more to make up for the shortage of personnel.
Or think back to technology again. Technology was going to make our
lives easier. We were supposed to have less to do. But instead, it’s
made it possible for us to do a whole lot more at a much higher
quality. We now do more and we do it better. That’s what’s expected of
us. We’ve had increased demands which have made us busier and more
D. Larger Debts
Now, this is one that
we’re going to talk about in depth in a few weeks. Our debt-load
certainly adds to our stress levels. And it adds to our busyness.
You’ve got to take that second job to pay the bills, you’ve got to
expend a lot of time and energy trying to figure out how you can
shuffle money from here to pay this over here, we’ve got to spend the
time trying to balance what we’ve paid cash for, what we’ve used our
debit cards for, what we’ve put on credit, what we’ve paid with PayPal,
and what automatic payments are coming out of our account. That’s a lot
more complicated that it used to be, and it’s led to a lot of people
spending more than they thought they were spending or what they thought
they could handle.
Well, we’re going to get more into debt… maybe that’s not the right way
to put it… We’re going to talk more about debt in a few weeks. So let’s
leave it at that for now.
that busyness = success
We have this deep rooted
belief that the busier we are, the more successful we must be. But busy
is just busy, and it’s no indication of success.
In fact, you can do this… go to the library and check out all the books
on success. If you read through every book, I don’t think you’d find
one that told you that in order to be a success you had to get busier.
In fact, a lot of them would tell you what you need to do is reorganize
so that you’re less busy.
Busyness is not an indication of success; it’s an indication of stress.
Okay, so there are lots
of things that can add to our busyness. That’s just five that have come
to the forefront in recent years. So what do we do about it? How can we
regain control over our schedules? Well, let me make a few suggestions.
I’m going to give you five keys to battling busyness.
To Beat Busyness I Must…
1. Learn to say
Video – Drained from
Busy Schedules from BluefishTV.com
You know, there are all kinds of expectations placed on us and there
are people that we don’t want to disappoint. But sometimes, we just
have to say “no”.
Let’s practice that… All together… 3-2-1 - “No”. There, didn’t that
You have to learn to say “no” to some things in order to say “yes” to
other things. Because you can’t do everything.
You know who understood this? Jesus. Jesus understood that in order to
accomplish the things He wanted to accomplish, He had to say “no” to
In Mark chapter 1, we read about how the disciples of Jesus came to him
and told him everyone wanted to see him. All the people in the city
where they were (Capernaum) had heard about Jesus and about His
miracles, and so they wanted to see Him. And his disciples were
encouraging Him to go and spend the day with them. But do you know what
Jesus said? He said, “No.” He said, “I have other things to do. I have
other places I need to go.” He said, “The whole reason I’m here is to
travel to these other towns too and to preach and tell them about the
Kingdom of God.”
[Mark 1:35-38 (NLT)
Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got
up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the
others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone
is looking for you.”
But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will
preach to them, too. That is why I came.”
Luke 4:42-43 (NLT)
Early the next morning Jesus went out to an
isolated place. The crowds searched everywhere for him, and when they
finally found him, they begged him not to leave them. But he replied,
“I must preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God in other towns, too,
because that is why I was sent.”]
Let me show you exactly what Jesus said…
Mark 1:38 (NLT)
But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other
towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.”
In your notes, underline that last sentence. “That is why I came.” How
did Jesus decide when to say “no” and when to say “yes”? He decided by
measuring everything by why He came. What did He want to do? What were
His goals? Why was He here? And then He would look at each individual
thing and ask, “Will this help me accomplish my goals? Will this help
me to do what I’m here to do?”
And by doing that relentlessly, this is what He was able to pray to His
Father just before His crucifixion…
John 17:4 (NLT)
“I brought glory to you here on earth by
completing the work you gave me to do.”
But the only way He was able to say that was because He had identified
why He was here and He said “no” to the things that didn’t contribute
So let me ask you, what are you here for? What’s your purpose? What has
God called you to do? If you can identify your purpose, then I promise
you it will help you to determine what things you need to say “yes” to
and what things you need to say “no” to.
Now, a couple years ago, we spent about a month and a half talking
about how we can discover our purpose in life. And as a church we went
through this book, The Purpose Driven Life. And we have a few copies
left over. Who doesn’t have a copy but wants a copy?
So first, if I want to beat busyness I must learn to say “no”. Second,
I need to…
margins in my life
I’m talking about
reestablishing the boundaries that have been eroded. I’m talking about
turning off the phone, going for a walk, shutting down the computer,
switching off the TV and just talking time to relax. Turn off the car
stereo once in a while and enjoy some silence. You don’t have to always
have something going on.
Decide on a date night with your spouse and stick to it. Don’t let
busyness ruin your relationship. Have family times that aren’t driven
by a hectic schedule. Clarify when you’re at work and when you’re at
home. Have some free time every week that you guard with a passion.
And don’t feel guilty about it. Because you need those margins. You
need time to rest and refuel and reenergize. So if somebody asks you to
do something and you’re not tied up with something else, it’s still
okay to say “no”.
Hey, God thinks these margins are so important that He included it in
the 10 Commandments. The fourth commandment says…
Exodus 20:8 (NLT)
Remember to observe the Sabbath day by
keeping it holy.
Now, that’s kind of a funny word… Sabbath. We don’t use that word a
whole lot, but it literally means “Cease” or “Rest”. It means, “Knock
And basically it’s referring to taking a full day off from all our work
and busyness and investing that time in being refreshed and renewed as
we devote time to worshipping God and to God-honouring activities. For
the Hebrews who were the first to receive this Commandment, their
Sabbath day was from sundown on Friday night to sundown on Saturday
night. For Christians, dating back all the way back to the apostles and
their disciples, the Sabbath has traditionally been Sunday. Whatever
the day is, I think the principle behind it is that we need to find one
24-hour period of time someplace in our week where we can set aside our
work and spend time resting and worshipping our Creator.
It’s good for us. It’s good for us spiritual, emotionally, and
And even beyond the “Sabbath”, we need to create margins everyday.
Moving at high-speed from the time we get out of bed to the time we go
to bed does no good to anybody.
Psalm 127:2 (NLT)
It is useless for you to work so hard from
early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat;
for God gives rest to his loved ones.
3. Put time
with God at #1 on my To-Do list
Earlier in our Worship
Celebration, Lynn read a passage for us from Luke 10. In that chapter,
Jesus and his disciples went to have dinner in the home of two sisters,
Mary and Martha.
Now understand, Jesus is there with all his disciples, plus there’s
Mary and Martha, and so there needs to be a meal for at least 15
people. Even by today’s standards, that’s a pretty big Christmas or
Thanksgiving dinner. And if you’ve ever prepared one of those, you know
there’s a lot of work that goes into it.
So Martha got right to work. And remember, she would have had to make
everything from scratch… no pre-cooked meals from the store, nothing
she’d be pulling out of the freezer, no microwave to heat things up in…
she had a lot of work to do.
But as she was slaving away in the kitchen, her sister Mary went out in
the living room and just sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to Him
teach. She was in awe of Him and was just honoured to be in His
Until finally, Martha couldn’t take it anymore. She had had enough.
There she was, working hard to get the dinner ready for their guests,
and Mary didn’t lift a finger to help. And so Martha tore into Mary
right in front of Jesus, and complained about how unfair it was, and
asked Jesus to tell Mary to help her. And how did Jesus respond?
Luke 10:41-42 (NLT)
“My dear Martha, you are worried and upset
over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned
about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Jesus wasn’t nearly as concerned about the meal as He was about Mary
and Martha. He was there to spend time with them, and He wanted them to
spend time with Him. Yeah, a meal had to be prepared… after all, He was
invited there to eat… So Martha wasn’t doing anything bad. But she was
missing out on the best… spending time with Jesus.
You know the scary thing? This happens all the time. Even in churches,
people get so wrapped up in doing good things that they neglect the
very best. They miss out on knowing Jesus and developing a relationship
with Him. And Jesus warned us of this… He said…
Matthew 7:22-23 (NLT)
“On judgment day many will tell me, ‘Lord,
Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and
performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew
you. Go away…”
Above everything else, He wants you to know Him. Not just do things for
Him and serve Him and volunteer in His Church… He wants you to know
Him. So take a break. Spend time with Him in prayer and in reading the
Bible and get to know Him.
down-times to follow hectic times
[see Matthew 14 and Mark
You know, Jesus had some pretty stressful days. Let me tell you about
one day in particular. That morning, he heard that his relative John
had been executed. And so Jesus tried to get alone so he could mourn.
But as soon as people heard that Jesus was in the area, they came to
him and brought people to be healed and wanted to hear Him teach.
And Jesus complied with that, and He healed people and taught the
people right into the evening. In fact, there were so many people
coming and going that Jesus and the disciples didn’t even have a chance
At least 5000 people were there crowding around Jesus. Maybe upwards of
8000 or 10,000. And let me tell you as a public speaker, no matter how
much you enjoy it, it can be draining. So I can only imagine how
exhausting all this would be for Jesus. And then, to cap it all off,
Jesus performed a miracle… taking five loaves of bread and two fish and
feeding everyone that was there!
And then we get to what I want us to notice this morning… We’re told…
Matthew 14:22-23 (NLT)
Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that
his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the
lake, while he sent the people home. After sending them home, he went
up into the hills by himself to pray. Night fell while he was there
Jesus had had an incredibly busy, hectic day, and He finished it off by
spending some time alone in prayer. Even Jesus, who is God, needed time
to regroup and recover. And that’s a regular pattern you see in His
life. He’d spend the day surrounded by all these people making all
these demands, and then He’d spend some time alone.
And I think that’s a good example for you and for me. Even beyond
creating margins for everyday life, when life becomes especially
stressful we need some down-time to recover.
A couple months ago most of us went to Kindred Spirits for our Winter
Retreat. And it was a fantastic time. I loved being there and spending
a few days with you. But it was also a lot of work leading up to it and
during those few days in particular.
So you know what Shera and I did? We stayed for a couple extra days
afterward. You see, I knew going into it that it was going to be a busy
time. And I knew I’d be wiped out by the end of the weekend. And so I
scheduled some down-time. And let me tell you, I needed it and I
So when you encounter a particularly stressful time in your life, let
me encourage you to do the same. Take a vacation. Or make sure your
workload will be lighter for a little while. Or send your kids on a
sleepover. However you do it, make sure you have some down-time.
5. Clear away
Video – Stress from
Overloaded Schedule from BluefishTV.com
You know what I did this past week? Can I brag for a minute? I went
through all our cupboards in the kitchen, I got rid of stuff that was
outdated or that we don’t use, I organized a couple of closets, I
sorted through a bunch of papers, and I packed up or threw out a bunch
Plus, I set aside a few things that I need to ask Shera about before I
toss them. Hey, I’m not stupid… is I?
Basically, I tried to simplify. I tried to get rid of stuff that was
just excess clutter. And you know what? It feels good.
“Areas of chaos or clutter can cause stress just by looking at them.
They may be closets that overflow, drawers stuffed with outgrown
clothes, or a garage that no longer has space for the car. Clean these
little areas for a fast move toward peace.”
~ Ron Hutchcraft, in Living Peacefully in a Stressful World
But it’s not just the fact that the clutter is there… it’s how much
time you waste because it’s there. I got to thinking this week, how
much of our lives are spent trying to find things or sort through piles
of paper or clean up the stuff that’s just cluttering our homes? I’m
sure we spend years of our lives doing those kinds of things. And yet
we hold on to all this stuff thinking it adds value to our lives. But
Luke 12:15 (NIV)
“A man’s life does not consist in the
abundance of his possessions.”
But you know, it’s not just our possessions. Our schedules get
cluttered, our relationships get cluttered, our goals get cluttered,
our priorities get cluttered, our budgets get cluttered, our TV viewing
gets cluttered, our minds get cluttered, our spirits get cluttered… and
what we need to do is simplify. Clear away the clutter.
Identify what’s important, and stop committing time and energy to the
Look, we all have demands and expectations that are placed on us. But
that doesn’t mean we have to become enslaved to busyness. We can
control our schedules instead of our schedules controlling us. And in
so doing, we can greatly reduce the stress level in our lives.