In this era of so many opportunities, learning to conquer overwhelm seems to be a growing need for many, including myself. For me, having embarked on the major undertaking of founding a new ministry (Discipleship Journeys with Jesus), my days are filled with competing priorities. The opportunities are huge, but which do I work on first? Recruiting, promoting, creating, writing, fund raising, systematizing, partnering. Each priority seems important and urgent and if I’m not careful I quickly feel overwhelmed.
Recently however I wrote down some reminders that help me conquer overwhelm. I refer to this list frequently for help. They’re rooted in my faith in Jesus Christ and His Word, the Bible. If you’re not yet a follower of Christ, I highly recommend you click HERE and get the extra power that comes from connecting to the Almighty!
Here are 7 reminders that help me conquer overwhelm:
1. In each moment, I only have one thing to do
Often it seems my sense of overwhelm comes from simultaneously thinking of the many different things I have to do and flitting from one to the other, anxious and distracted. But the truth is that in each moment, I only have one thing to do.
Richard Sloma has said, “Never try to solve all the problems all at once—make them line up for you one-by-one.”
That quote reminds me that I only need to handle one thing at a time and when I try to do several things, I’m usually ineffective at any of them.
Some might argue that they’re good at multi-tasking. However, unless it is a rote task, our minds can only focus on one item at a time, and multi-tasking doesn’t work.
Besides, it is liberating to conquer overwhelm by figuring out what the next important task is and focusing on it.
2. God has provided enough time to do all He is asking me to do.
If I’m overwhelmed, it’s not because God expects me to do more than I can do. Jesus said, “My burden is light.”
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
Overwhelm results from my own expectations, or what I think others expect of me (and perhaps they do). But God is much more reasonable! Thus, to conquer overwhelm, I try to focus on the fact that God loves me and doesn’t expect more of me than I can reasonably do.
3. Achievement comes by continually completing the next most important task.
Part of our problem with overwhelm is that we want everything now! Thus, we try to get it all done now and end up frustrated and overwhelmed.
Someone has said that “We overestimate what we can accomplish in a day and underestimate what we can accomplish in a year.”
Instead, we need to take the long view which says, “I’m going to keep banging away on this project, doing the next most important task, and one day it will result in a huge accomplishment.”
I’m reminded of the old saying, “How do you eat an elephant?” Answer: “One bite at a time.” Or, as someone else has said, “Inch by inch anything’s a cinch.”
4. The Holy Spirit will guide me to the next most important task.
When I’m frantic with overwhelm, I find that often the best thing to do is to stop, get quiet, listen and wait on the Lord, so He can direct me in what to do next. The Bible repeatedly says to “wait on the Lord.”
When I do that, He soon brings to mind the next most important task.
In fact, when I quiet myself before the Lord, He often brings to mind important tasks I had forgotten to do, and ideas I hadn’t thought of.
I’m not talking about an hour of listening, or even fifteen minutes. Usually it is five or ten minutes of solitude that quiets my restless, overwhelmed spirit and allows guidance from the Lord to occur.
5. I won’t survive.
This might sound strange, but to conquer overwhelm, I often remind myself that life is short, everyone dies, and I don’t have to be so stressed since in the end I won’t survive anyway.
Call me morbid; I prefer to call it realistic.
If this step isn’t helpful for you then skip it, no problem. But for me, taking things too seriously is a problem, and it helps me lighten up and remember that I won’t survive anyway.
6. Sabbath rest is God’s command and a physical, mental and spiritual necessity.
I certainly understand that “remember the Sabbath” is part of the Old Covenant, whose laws have been nullified in the New Covenant of Christ. However, the command to practice a Sabbath rest was part of the 10 Commandments, God’s top ten! To violate the Sabbath could bring the death penalty under the Old Covenant (see Exodus 31:14). It’s a serious issue.
The key concept was “rest:”
8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Exodus 20:8-11 KJV)
Why did God rest on the seventh day? It was certainly NOT because the Almighty needed rest, but it was to demonstrate for us the importance of weekly rest.
Here’s the bottom line: If we are 24/7 workaholics, we’ll violate a biblical principal of rest and never conquer overwhelm.
I know there are pastors who abuse this biblical example, and I encourage them to reconsider and repent. The principle of rest is vital and will enable us to do more in the end, and likely live longer as well.
7. When I am weak, then I am strong.
This paradox is taught in 2 Corinthians 12:10 where the Apostle Paul wrote:
“For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
It truly is a paradox, and a quite wonderful one! Time after time it has been so very encouraging for me to remember that when I am weakest, the Lord can be the strongest as He works through me. I might be feeling overwhelmed, but in the midst of the threat of overwhelm, the Lord is powerfully strong for me, because when I am weak, He is strong.
I can conquer overwhelm when I remember that in my weakness, the Lord can be strongest for me.
Remembering these seven reminders really helps me to conquer overwhelm. I hope they can help you also.
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