Summary: This is a message on what stress is, the causes of it, how it affects us, and how we should handle it.

How to Dress for STRESS

Psalm 4:1-8

What is one thing that we all have in common that begins with the letter “S”. Now sense we are in church, most of us would probably think that I’m talking about sin. Now that is a common denominator, but not the topic of choice today.

Today I want to talk to you about something that we all go through at times in our life. Stress.

What causes stress?

a. You have the stress of school or work.

It’s been a while but I can remember the stress of school. Will I be accepted and other kids like me? Am I wearing the right kind of cloths? And as you progress in school then you have the stress of the homework and other achievements that we are pressed to obtain. And being in school is simply a training for the stress that you have in life; because it only gets worse.

Going to school is really just basic training for going to work. That is why you go to school so that you can learn and the better prepare yourself for life. But when you go to work the stress really begins. Now some work is more stressful than others. But even when I worked as a security guard for the hospital, I had the stress of not going to sleep and losing my job for doing so.

But you have deadlines. You have bosses. You have lots of stress that comes with work. That is why we say, “Thank GOD it is Friday”. But it is not just school or work that cause us stress. You also have…

b. You have the stress of family and friends.

Family can cause you stress. Weather it is an elderly parent, a wayward child, or a demanding spouse. Kids can make you pull your hair out, which is if you have hair. My Mom just smiles when my kids misbehave and says, “Turnaround is fair play”.

Then you have the stress of your marriage.

I heard about a woman who took her husband to the doctor’s office. After his checkup, the doctor said, "Your husband is suffering from a very serious infection."

The husband, who was hard of hearing said, "What did he say?" His wife said, "He says your sick".

The doctor went on. "But there is hope. You just need to reduce his stress.

Each morning, give him a healthy breakfast. Be pleasant, nice, and kind.

For lunch and dinner make him his favorite meal. Don’t discuss your problems with him; it will only make his stress worse. Don’t yell at him or argue with him.

And most importantly...just cater to your husband’s every whim.

If you can do this for your husband for the next 6 months to a year, I think your husband will have a complete recovery."

The husband said, "What did he say?" His wife said, "He says, you’re going to die".

c. You have the stress of complete strangers.

Sometimes people who we don’t even know stress us out. The other day I was sitting at a red light behind a car and then the light turned green. Being the kind citizen that I am, I tapped on the horn to let him know that he was able to proceed. Then we got to the next light just one block down and it turned yellow, probably due to his delay at the previous light. Then the light turned green and once again his foot must have been glued to the brake because He just sit there. I thought is this guy color blind or what. He stressed me out.

But whether it is on the road or the shopping mall. People stress you out. Have you ever been sitting trying to enjoy a game and you have a know it all, who looks like they have never played a sport in their life; criticize the referees, the coaches, and even the players. You want to enjoy the game and you have to sit and listen to Howard Kosel over there and it stresses you out.

d. The church can cause stress.

Despite the rumors you may hear, the #1 reason for pastors leaving the ministry is stress. It is not because they ran off with the piano player. And being a pastor is a very stressful job. You are on call 24/7. You are pulled in several directions and have to be very multitasking.

But it is not just the pastors who have stress. Being a deacon is a stressful job. Dealing with youth, especially the preschoolers, whom we have been blessed to have, can cause stress. Dealing with the money, keeping the property up, many things in the church can cause you stress.

Even coming to church can cause you stress. How many of you have ever yelled at someone to “hurry up!” We have to get to church to worship God. I would rather you come in late then to come in all stressed and trying to worship God. Church can cause stress.

e. You put stress on yourself.

Sometimes we only need to point the finger at ourselves as to whom to blame our stress on. We might have unrealistic expectations, or we worry about things we cannot change. We put finical burdens on ourselves by buying thing we want but don’t really need. We do things that cause us to worry or play catch up and the only ones to blame are ourselves.

So stress is everywhere.

So how does stress affect you?

How do you know when you have too much stress?

Let me give you the symptoms of stress overload.

1. Decision-making becomes difficult (both major and minor kinds).

2. Excessive daydreaming or fantasizing about “getting away from it all.”

3. Increased use of cigarettes and/or alcohol.

4. Increased use of tranquilizers and “uppers.”

5. Thoughts trail off while speaking or writing.

6. Excessive worrying about all things.

7. Sudden outbursts of temper and hostility.

8. Paranoid ideas and mistrust of friends and family.

9. Forgetfulness for appointments, deadlines, dates.

10. Frequent spells of brooding and feeling of inadequacy.

11. Reversals in usual behavior.

Do any of these sounds familiar? If so, then how can it affect you?

a. Stress will affect your health.

The fact is, the Mayo Clinic claims 80-85% of total caseload due directly to worry and anxiety.

- Many experts say that coping with stress is the #1 health priority of our day.

o One leading physician has stated that, in his opinion, 70% of all medical patients could cure themselves if only they got rid of their worries and fears.

- We know that medical science has closely tied worry to heart trouble, blood pressure problems, ulcers, thyroid malfunction, migraine headaches, and a host of stomach disorders, amongst others. For example…

25 million Americans have high blood pressure due to stress/anxiety; 1 million more develop high blood pressure each year. 8 million have stomach ulcers and every week 112 million people take medication for stress related symptoms.

We live in a very stress-filled world. In fact, experts say that 43% – almost half of all adults – suffer adverse health affects due to stress. One million workers here in the United States are absent on an average workday because of stress related complaints.

b. Stress will affect your family.

When you are stress out it does not go unnoticed. You may think you can hide it but it is very visual. Now when some people see you stressed out, they have the freedom of simply give you your space. That is the polite way to put it; the truth is that no one wants to be around you when you are like that. But your family has no choice in the matter. You all share the same roof. Now you can go hide in your own special place whether it is your garage or your closet but sooner or later you have to come out.

Stress causes you to be irritable. Grouchy is what my kids call it. You don’t want to talk about it because you don’t want to put any stress on your family but by doing so you cause them stress by them thinking that they are the ones responsible for your actions.

c. Stress will affect you spiritually.

By stressing out on other things it will keep you from focusing on the one thing you are to focus on. And that is God. When we stress it causes us to be concerned about our own needs and neglecting those around us.

So how do we deal with it? How do we dress for success? Let me give you some ways to.

What do you do about stress?

Sense we know that we are going to have it and we know how it can affect us then we need to know how to handle it.

a. Prepare for it.

Don’t be surprised by it when it happens. We have established that we all go through stressful times in our lives. So you need to just be prepared for those times when it comes. How do you prepare?

Plan for it.

Just as you plan a vacation you plan for stress. I don’t know if you are like I am; but when I go on vacation I put a lot of planning on where to go and what to do. I don’t want the stress of making those decisions on the fly.

And when stress happens; we need to have a plan as well. What kind of plan? The plan of what you are going to do. What are you going to do? That famous saying, “What would Jesus do”? How would He handle that kind of stress?

Jesus was a man who went through all different kinds of stress. And yet you never see Him break under the pressure.

Hebrews 4:15, For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but in all points temped as we are, yet without sin.

Jesus while He walked here on this earth was pulled in all kinds of directions but He left the perfect example of how to handle stress. Someone gives you grief causing you to stress; what would Jesus do? Having a bad day at work, what would Jesus do? Have a plan by thinking a head of time of when you enter into certain situations; what would Jesus do?

Another way to plan for it is to not over extend yourself. Taking on more than you can do causes you to not do anything right. You might have never thought that you would hear a pastor say that with all the work that needs to be done to keep the church running properly, but that is why when you are asked if you would PRAY about doing something; that is what we want you to do. Because if God has for you to do it, then He will provide the means and the method for you to do it and if God doesn’t want you to do it and you try to do it on your own you are just going to make a mess of it anyway. I would rather not do it as to do it and do it bad.

But unfortunately it is not the churches that most over extend themselves. It is other things. It is our families and our work. It is our hobbies and our habits. Just remember it is not a sin to say no, unless you say it to God.

And finally plan by taking some time for yourself. That is often one of the most overlooked commandments.

Exodus 20:9-10a, Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work.

What He is saying is that our bodies need time to rest and recharge. When we wind the rubber band too tight we might break it. Take time off for yourself and your family.

b. Don’t procrastinate

Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today. Often times we find ourselves under stress with deadlines but the problem is that we waited to long to start on them in the first place.

An example is my son Seth recently had to read a book for school. Well I did not know that he had less than 11 days in which to finish the book. The book was over 200 pages long, 37 chapters, and at the end of one week, we received the notice that the book had to be completed by Friday morning. He was on Chapter two. So there was a lot of stress that week getting him to complete that book. Why? Because he waited too long to start on it.

And often times we do the same. We don’t do today thinking we will do it tomorrow and tomorrow comes before we know it and we stress on meeting the dead line. Plan your time wisely. Do it without over doing it.

And finally…

c. Place it into GOD’S hands.

Psalms 46

If God is with us, who can be against us? Sometime we stress when there is nothing that we can do to change it. If there is nothing we can do to influence the outcome then we just have to turn it over to God. Simply trusting God is the best medicine for any stress we may go through. As the old song says, “Why worry when you can pray”. If we have done our part then simply trust in Him to do His.

Maybe you are here today and you have never entered into that personal relationship with Christ. That is the first and most important way to handle any situation that you may be going through.

Matthew 11:28, Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.

Why don’t you come to Jesus today and dress the proper way for stress.