The best advice I have ever received on managing the expectations leaders face from the people they lead and serve was from my dad. I watched as he spoke to our church for the first time over 14 years ago. He was laying out his vision and managing the expectations the people in the congregation would have of him. He said, “Very few things are an emergency. Your son crashing his car is not an emergency. Your son being critically injured in an accident is.” Luckily (or unluckily if you don’t consider experience a wisdom building tool) for my dad he had a lot of experience with his sons crashing his cars.
Often our stress is contingent on what we classify as an emergency. Whether we are leading our family, managing our personal schedule or people, the things that come up can either be accompanied by stress or calmness by simply prioritizing what an emergency is. What are you letting become emergencies in your life? The book of Matthew in chapter six addresses the idea of stress using the life of birds as an example. The example shows that birds never worry about the future because God has given them everything they need. After painting this picture of provision, Jesus then asks the question, “Are you not much more valuable then they (the birds)?” Take a look at what you are allowing into your schedules. What is causing you undo stress? Does it really need to happen right now? Does it need to happen at all? Not sure? What are the consequences of it not happening as scheduled? Perhaps the things that are taking up extra space aren’t necessary, or at least not needed in the timeframe you’ve prioritized them. Whether it’s a customer, family member, friend, your own wants or needs, even your inability to say no, most things are either not necessary or an emergency.
When you feel in control you won’t feel stressed. Stress comes when you’re focusing on too many things, wanting/needing more than you should and/or not allowing what really matters to be your focus. Family, friends, work, fun, and community are all important. Don’t let other unnecessary things become your priority or you will soon feel stressed, or at worst, futile. Guard your time, desires and schedule so you can focus on the things that matter. When you manage your schedule well, you’ll have time when actual emergencies occur (emergencies will always cause some stress). When you don’t, your schedule will be full of “emergencies” and stress. When that happens you won’t have time for the things that matter most to you and your family.