Exhibiting signs of stress
After a slightly tense meeting recently one of my good friends and co-leaders sent me an email containing the slightly confrontational words, “David, you seem to be exhibiting signs of stress – are you taking any time off soon?” Shucks, my cover blown, I thought I was handling it really well!
Actually I know I am under stress, as are most of my immediate family at this point. You’ll all know that I lead Ellen’s funeral at the beginning of the year (such a tragic and unexpected loss), then discovered that Alison was suffering with shingles (which is a really nasty, painful, wearing-out condition), then carried the coffin at my lovely niece’s untimely funeral and then, just a few weeks ago, sat beside my mother-in-law as she breathed her last. Although I am wounded by each of these, others are closer to the pain than I (Ellen’s family and close friends, Alison felt her own illness, my brother’s loss of his daughter, Alison losing her mother and Leslie his wife).
So I am very close to the pain but just one stage removed – and I realise that leaves me uncertain as to how “stressed” I am. So I plough on. Apparently, people who are under stress exhibit different signs such as: difficulty in dealing with problems, feeling out of control, overwhelmed, confused, and/or unable to make decisions. Experiencing mood changes such as depression, anger, irritability, defensiveness, and overreaction. Increasing dependence on food, cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs. Neglecting important things in life such as work and even personal appearance. Developing irrational fears of things and even being terrified of ordinary situations like heights or small spaces.
So I went to my confronter, a leader who is brave enough to care, and said, “What do you mean by “exhibiting signs of stress”?” She said, “You’re neglecting your personal appearance.” “No,” I said, “that’s just your poor fashion sense!” That’s a joke, she didn’t say that and I didn’t reply like that. She fed back to me a couple of things which flagged up her concern.
The reason for sharing this is not to garner sympathy, Alison and I know we are surrounded by supporting and loving friends. It’s to illustrate the importance of accountability and the way we operate in leadership. It is hugely important to me to know that the leaders at Leeds Vineyard are willing to confront me when they are concerned for me. It’s an issue of integrity and is one of our values.
The bible says, “Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Ephesians 4:15. We expect our housegroup leaders to care for the people in their housegroups enough to hold up a mirror to them when something is awry. Alison and I will do the same for the leaders in the church. And, most importantly, the leaders, particularly the Leadership Group, will do the same for us.
Our next Alpha Course, led by Dave & Sue Richardson
, starts on Monday 13 October at the Costa Coffee in Headingley. If you would like to go or have friends who want to find out more about the Christian faith in a safe discussion-type environment (with some Costa Coffee refreshments thrown in!) I highly recommend it.
The Healing on the Streets team will be out in Headingley again this Saturday. If you love to pray for the sick, or to meet people who have probably never been in a church and tell them that Jesus loves them - or if you just want to learn how to do this – join the team. There will be a meeting to pray and prepare this Wednesday evening. Contact Jerry & Pauline Wild
for more details.
Sex & Marriage
We start a new series this Sunday at weekly worship: Sex & Marriage. What makes a good marriage? What’s the point of marriage when we live in a culture which treats sex as a commonplace pastime rather than an extraordinary mystery? How do we redeem our mistakes and stop our murky backstory polluting our present? Why not ask your friends if they want to come and hear what the bible says about how to make a good marriage?!
Contrary to my previous communications we are not starting our evening service this year after all. I apologise for the confused communications (a sign of stress apparently!). Instead, we will spend the next three months preparing to launch “weekly worship at seven” in the New Year. In the meantime we will continue with Sanctuary from 7.30pm to 8.30pm on Sunday evenings in the current format of prayer and worship.
Please read the revised article on the website to explain more and to find out how you fit in
How are you doing with your “stress”? - I hear you cry… if you’ve read this far
Well, Alisona dn I are sharing our stuff with the appropriate people, being prayed for regularly, people are helping us with practical support and friendship. Alison is taking time out to look after herself and her father over the coming few months and we will be taking a short break in the next few weeks. And the Leadership Group are carrying the load and watching us: so that we can grow to become mature and healthy (Ephesians 4:15).