Juggling Chainsaws on a Tightrope: On Stress

(Paperback - Jul 2005)
$9.99 - Online Price
Parable recommended!


How do men keep everything in their lives balanced?Cue the circus music . . . "Hey, Jim, I'm going to need that TPS report by noon." one chainsaw]"Jim, don't forget we are going to my mother's for dinner tonight." two chainsaws]"Daddy, do you have time to help me with my homework?" yet another chainsaw]Men have to juggle dozens of chainsaws--er, responsibilities--all while walking a treacherous tightrope demanding our spiritual and physical balance. With all its demands and pressures, life can feel like a bizarro circus act. But you can be the spiritual ringleader you want to be. Take eight weeks to study a biblical approach to thriving under pressure. Learn to master the art of juggling chainsaws on a tightrope--or at least try to improve your skills a little bit at a time. Designed for small-group use (yet just as hospitable for a solo act), studies in The Real Life Stuff for Men series don't demand a seminary-trained leader at the helm. These studies help participants discover personalized application and offer an accountability system to make sure the changes stick. Other thought-provoking titles in The Real Life Stuff for Men series: "Leaning into a Hail of Bullets""Treading Water in an Empty Pool""Chasing God with Three Flat Tires"


  • SKU: 9781576838198
  • SKU10: 1576838196
  • Title: Juggling Chainsaws on a Tightrope: On Stress
  • Series: Real Life Stuff for Men
  • Qty Remaining Online: 3
  • Publisher: Navpress Publishing Group
  • Date Published: Jul 2005
  • Pages: 127
  • Weight lbs: 0.32
  • Dimensions: 8.26" L x 5.52" W x 0.35" H
  • Features: Table of Contents, Price on Product, Bibliography
  • Themes: Theometrics | Evangelical; Sex & Gender | Masculine;
  • Category: MEN
  • Subject: Christian Life - Men's Issues

Chapter Excerpt

Chapter One


"I could be fired or downsized anytime. I know I'm not the only one waking up at 4 a.m. worrying about losing the house."


It's often around summer vacation that you most feel the stress of a workload. You schedule a vacation with your supervisor the previous winter, and as the weeks wind down to your anticipated time off, you work weekends and nights the last week or two just to be away from your desk for two weeks. Sometimes you even delay your vacation a day or two desperately tying up loose ends.

When you finally get to the lake (or resort or beach or campsite or hotel), it takes three days just to wind down. And then the last few days of vacation, your stress level starts rising again as you anticipate returning to several hundred e-mails and voice mails - not to mention more than a few fires to put out. The net result of your fourteen-day vacation: about five good, relaxing days.

This is no longer our fathers' and grandfathers' world, where a worker's loyalty to a company was rewarded by a secure career followed by a lifelong pension. No one - CEO or driver, technician or receptionist - is immune to being downsized out of a job. What used to be a win-win covenant between employer and employee has gone obscenely out of balance: The purchasing power of wages has shriveled until it now takes two full-time incomes to sustain a small family. Health benefits, which have traditionally kept even disgruntled employees on the job, are similarly drying up fast. In short, corporations have typically abandoned whatever loyalty they may have had to their employees and invested that loyalty unmistakably and lucratively in their stockholders.

And we haven't even mentioned the daily stresses of your specific responsibilities and duties. As if they even matter with dispensability breathing down your neck all day, every day.

How do you manage to be productive with this kind of stress? How does your workplace stress influence the other aspects of your life - your primary relationships (marriage, family, close friendships), your leisure (or your attempt at it), your faith? Where do you find momentary release from such stress? Are you considering taking a deliberate step into a lot more or a lot less stress? Or are you the type that is actually energized when the occupational odds get high?

Use the space below to summarize your beginning place for this lesson. Describe your workplace realities, anxieties, and specific stress points. We'll start here and then go deeper.

READ A Churning Stomach

Job 30:27

My stomach's in a constant churning, never settles down. Each day confronts me with more suffering.


· To what degree do you identify with Job's lament here?

· When you have thoughts like this, do you tend to dismiss them as mere whining? Explain.

· What about your job's workload makes your stomach churn?

· Is this churning something you could relieve, or something to simply live with?

PRAY God, show me how .

READ Always Saving the Day

From the Youthworker interview "Coping with Stress and Burnout in Youth Ministry" with Carmen Renee Berry

The messiahs have no problems, no needs; they are the controllers of the bad people and the helpers of the good people.

This is a dangerous hook, because when you're feeling good and confident, you'll take on more than you should. But when you're feeling badly about yourself, you feel you're not worthy enough to take time for. "I can't cut back, [others] need me," you tell yourself. "So much is going on in church right now. I know I should take a couple of days off, but I have too much going on."

And it becomes an addictive lifestyle. To complicate matters, churches often reinforce it. For the most part, churches underpay and overwork their employees. A church staff member gets one day off, but is generally on call 24 hours a day. The idea of a six-day workweek is unheard of in most other professions, but not in churches. Even if you're giving residential treatment, you get two or three days off a week. Because the ministry has such an unrealistic demand and pays so poorly, it sets you up for stress with a double whammy

You wrap it up in Scripture and . [convey] the message that if you're a really good person, you're overachieving. Really good Christians are involved in every activity. Really good Christians are there whenever the church is open. Really good Christians do nothing for themselves, but are always involved in ministry programs. A [Christian leader] living in the addictive lifestyle of stress emphasizes in his or her teaching how to take care of other people while ignoring the signals God has given you about yourself.


· Are you a messiah? Are you inclined to think that if you don't do something, it won't get done?

· If your job is a ministry job, does this description sound familiar? To what degree does it reflect your experience?

· Even if your job isn't a ministry job, what if any similarities are there between this description and your experience?

· In what ways do you feel the trickle-down effect in your workplace of the boss's work ethic (and work hours, work style, and so on) to your office? Is it a healthy or unhealthy trickle?

PRAY Lord, help me to see .

READ Fewer Places to Hide

From A Minute of Margin, by Richard A. Swenson, M.D.

It goes without saying that most employers and managers are more invested in the job than the people they supervise. This often makes for a natural asymmetry between their expectations and those of their employees. Meanwhile workers, who might not be interested in 24/7 availability, have fewer places to hide. "Where were you yesterday?" the boss might ask. "I was trying to reach you all day!" Never mind that it was Saturday and you were camping with the children. Or that it was Christmas Day and you were halfway to Grandma's house. "You know your boss is on vacation," quipped one employee, "when you receive 3 percent fewer emails from her.".

Communication technology has entered a new era and continuous accessibility is now a real possibility. It is time for a rational discussion of the massive implications this holds for workplace sustainability, morale, productivity, efficiency, innovation, and creativity. It turns out, if you really want to be a good worker, there are times when you must be disconnected from the office.


· How does the availability afforded by e-mail and cell phones impact your stress on the job?

· In what ways does this 24/7 communication decrease stress on the job?

· What experiences have you had with 24/7 availability that have challenged your ability to separate work and nonwork time?

· What is the value in separating yourself from 24/7 availability? How can you do this?

PRAY Lord, give me wisdom to .

READ Fueled

Romans 12:11

Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame.


· Recall the last time you really felt fueled and aflame on your job. How long ago was it? How long did that season last? What caused it to end?

· Paul says, "Don't burn out"; your workload seems to require it. Where's middle ground? Is there middle ground?

· What are some things you do that keep you fueled?

PRAY Lord, guide me .

READ Disguising Stress

From Reducing Stress, by Tim Hindle

Take note of the predominant attitudes and behavior at work to assess your organization's approach to stress. If stress is an intrinsic part of a job, it is often easier to glamorize it than to change working practices. A case study of this:

The managing director of a large commercial company often boasted that he spent more time out of the office on business trips than at his desk.

When asked to develop a new product line, he worked day and night to coordinate the efforts of different departments. He flew around the world in search of information and contacts to ensure that the new line would be a success. His free time shrank, his home life suffered, he was constantly tired, and he ate poorly - but because he knew that his company was depending on him, he continued. He began to experience severe stomach pains and was diagnosed with a peptic ulcer.

This case reflects a common problem: many high-powered employees accept the heavy workload imposed by their companies and brag about their responsibilities to disguise stress and fears of failure.

In certain work cultures, some stress is unavoidable: oil and mining companies expect employees to spend time away from home, and management consulting firms and investment banks expect their staff to work long hours. It is important to be able to identify unacceptable levels of workplace stress; disguising stress can make it harder to deal with the long-term effects.


· What is the workplace culture like at your job? Do the higher-ups model - or perhaps even glamorize - a stressful work style?

· How is stress disguised at your workplace?

· What have you observed or experienced of this in ministry environments, where a stressful workplace culture is connected to spirituality?

· How successful or unsuccessful have you been in cultivating a reputation as an energetic and productive employee without stressing out yourself (and your family, friends, and so on)?

PRAY Father, give me margin .

READ No Time to Waste

1 Corinthians 7:29-31

There is no time to waste, so don't complicate your lives unnecessarily. Keep it simple - in marriage, grief, joy, whatever. Even in ordinary things - your daily routines of shopping, and so on. Deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you. This world as you see it is on its way out.


· How likely is it that Paul would have included your workload in his "whatever" category? Explain.

· Is your job situation such that you can "keep it simple"? Why or why not?

· How do you reconcile the modern tendency to define yourself by your job with the apostle's suggestion to "deal as sparingly as possible with the things the world thrusts on you"?

· What's one thing you could do tomorrow to uncomplicate your workload?

PRAY God, help me to simplify .


What I Want to Discuss

What have you discovered this week that you definitely want to discuss with your small group? Write that here. Then begin your small-group discussion with these thoughts.

So What?

Use the following space to summarize the truths you uncovered about workplace and workload stress and what you really need to do to reduce that stress. Review your "Beginning Place" if you need to remember where you began. How does God's truth impact the "next step" in your journey?

Then What?

What is one practical thing you can do to apply what you've discovered? Describe how you would put this into practice. What steps would you take? Remember to think realistically - an admirable but unreachable goal is as good as no goal. Discuss your goal in your small group to further define it.


Identify how you will be held accountable to the goal you described. Who will be on your support team? What are their responsibilities? How will you measure the success of your plan? Write the details here.



Also in "Real Life Stuff for Men" Series

Look for similar products by Subject