No matter our profession or stage of life, pressures seem to be constantly bearing down on us. Bill Lake, a missionary statesman, church leader, dear friend, and mentor, provides wise counsel and Biblical truth to help us deal with pressure.
by Bill Lake
I came home, one afternoon, from church visitation and was greeted at the back door by one of our young daughters. She informed me that mommy had blown up our evening meal. I was not sure what was meant by that statement, but as I came into the kitchen I could see what she was trying to tell me. My wife was working to clean beef stew from the kitchen ceiling. The safety valve of the pressure cooker that was designed to let off the excess steam, had somehow become clogged. The pressure built up and the safety valve let go with a bang, emptying the contents of the pot all over the kitchen and ceiling.
Many of us have looked at the pressure cooker on the stove and have compared ourselves to that pot. The pressure builds up inside of us with an explosive force and if our safety valve does not let out the pressure, we explode. Sadly, we explode at each other, or at no one in particular, leaving others to be perplexed as to why we got so angry.
Many are under the misconception that pressure originates from outside ourselves, creating pressure within us. But pressure does not come from outside; it originates from inside the person. It is my response to external circumstances that generates the pressure. Thus, wives can stop blaming their husbands, husbands can stop blaming their wives, parents can stop blaming their children, and employees can stop blaming the boss. Trials cannot be avoided in this life (John 16:33) but we can do something about our responses. Pressure is my personal response to the exterior circumstances or obligations. It is not the phone that keeps ringing that is the problem, but my response to the ringing phone that is the problem. It is not the circumstances that I find myself in, but my response to those external circumstances. It is not what I have to do; my obligation is my attitude or my response to things.
We might also suffer from overload. Most pressure comes from overloading. Have you ever blown a fuse or triggered the circuit breaker? The fuse is blown when too much power is being drawn from the circuit. Again, vans are wonderfully convenient, but if a van is used as a truck, the van will break down. One can blame the van, but it is not the van’s fault. It was designed to carry a certain load, and if it is utilized as a truck, one should not be surprised when it breaks down. Similarly, an individual must know one’s capacity, one’s rate of load, and then adjust to that load. We put ourselves under pressure because we fail to rightly relate the load to the capacity or the work to what we are able to do. It might be that we are taking on more than we can carry at any given time.
In the earlier part of Mark 6, the disciples must have felt pressure from the ministry. They had been sent out two by two and given the ability to perform miracles. They encountered needy individuals and wonderful opportunities of ministry. They were busy day and night. They were under pressure of the ministry. In Mark 6:30-31, we read that they told the Lord how busy they had been and now they were exhausted. They needed a place of rest.
“And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.” (Mark 6:30–31)
The first solution to the problem of pressure is to have a safety valve.
Notice that our Lord suggested–“Come ye yourselves apart.” It has been said, ‘If you do not come apart, you will come apart.’ Rest was designed to be a safety valve. How much rest do you get?
Jesus’ second solution is “diversion.”
He recognized that they could not continue without interruption. We must “come apart before we come apart.” Sometimes we need to schedule interruptions to our calendars to let the steam out gently.
The third solution was to have personal, intimate fellowship with Jesus.
This was equally important. What is your prayer time alone with Him like? Prayer can have the greatest therapeutic value.
On a great many occasions as I engaged in counseling ministry with individuals, I found that they would begin to pour out their problems in a volume of words; all I could do was to sit and nod to show them that I was listening and understanding. The tension had built up so that they had to pour out their hearts. Often in telling their problems, they began to arrive at the solution to them. For an individual who is under pressure or in an inner turmoil, who is a better listener than God?
“What better listener than the High Priest (Jesus Christ) Who was touched with all our infirmities, Who was tested in all points like as we are, yet without sin? Pour out your heart to Him because He does hear you.” – Miles Stanford
The Lord was praying to set an example for these disciples so they would turn over to the Father all that was a burden, a care, or concern to them, and telling them that they had a Father that understood. Thus, they could relieve themselves of the built-up pressure in their lives. There must be rest, there must be diversion, and there must be communication with God. The biggest problem is that we allow this safety valve to become clogged.
Pressure often comes, not from a job awaiting the doing, but because we feel inadequate for the job. If the governor of your state invited you to become his administrative assistant, would you accept? In my case, I would feel great pressure–not because of the long hours of work (though that might be part of it)—but because I would be totally inadequate to do the job. Not being suited for that job would result in pressure. We must know our abilities and inabilities. Are you a van trying to be a truck? Believe me, it will not work. I know this because I have tried and failed.
Rest, diversion, and communication are all necessary for dealing with pressure.
Remember that pressure is our response to external circumstances, and when we are rightly related to the Lord Jesus Christ and draw from His strength, plan with His wisdom, and then operate with His power, strength will be discharged in you so that you are able to do His will.
Is your safety valve working? Is it clogged? May we all take a moment and examine our hearts. If we do not, we may have to go and clean the kitchen with someone. Let’s learn to come apart before we come apart.
Director of ACTS Center, Inc.
Bill was born and raised on a dairy farm in Ohio and graduated as a barber from Ohio State University before accepting the Lord as Savior. The Lord re-directed his life toward Appalachian Bible College where he graduated in 1970, married, and pastored a church in Pennsylvania for four years. His course changed again as he and his young family went to New Zealand as missionaries where they served for 16 years. Bill was appointed as Pacific Area Director for BMW in 1995 and served in that capacity for 20 years. At the end —2015—he transitioned out of this role into a new leadership position—Director of ACTS Center, Inc. ACTS facilitates the placement of personnel in creative access countries. Bill will provide oversight, accountability, and direction to the personnel presently serving under this organization. Presently he and his wife are working in coaching, helping, discipling, and mentoring individuals in their spiritual walk with the Lord. Bill and Deborah are members of Berean Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA.
Deborah grew up in a pastor’s home, accepted the Lord at a young age, and attended Bob Jones University. After marrying, she worked alongside her husband in three Christian schools and four churches before serving in Canada for four years as the wife of a missionary pastor.
Bill and Deborah’s first mates both died of cancer. They were united in marriage in 2006. Together they have nine children and fifteen grandchildren.