I learned a principle about a month ago that God has been using to change me and this ministry: When ANXIETY goes UP, BEHAVIOR and MOTIVATION go DOWN.
The instructor that taught this principle shared that the most motivated group of people he has ever met are grade one students. Think about it, before the teacher even finishes asking the question, almost every hand in the room is up wanting to be the one chosen to answer or volunteer. Due to this high motivation, a grade one teacher has to come up with a job for each and every student in her class. Billy will take the chairs off the desks in the morning, Suzy will put the chairs back up on the desks at the end of the day. Becca will be the line leader and Emily will be the door holder while Danny is responsible to bring up the rear and Amy turns off the light…
Now fast forward to Jr. High, where motivation was once incredibly high for Billy now his anxiety about what Suzy and Becca think keeps him from volunteering and he finds himself carving things into desks rather than taking the chairs down off them. After changing schools twice Emily would rather stay outside the door of her seventh grade classroom and hide rather than hold the door and smile at everyone that comes through.
This principle is true for all of us at every stage of life. When I am driving in a new city and am uncertain about where I am going my anxiety goes up and I am more likely to get annoyed with the other passengers in the car or the guy who can’t seem to find his indicator before he cuts me off in traffic.
Just last week I found myself overwhelmed with the size and weight of my ‘To Do List’ that needed to be accomplished before we left for 10 weeks. I found myself struggling to find the motivation to get out of bed and loosing my temper with the people I live with and love deeply.
Q. Can you think of a specific example of when anxiety has gone up in your heart or mind and as a result your behavior or motivation has gone down?
Here is some very practical advise from the Apostle Paul, a man who could have been paralyzed by his ‘To Do List’ and who’s actions at times I’m sure reflected an anxious heart.
“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
When you start to feel anxious here’s what you do…
- Stop – recognize that anxiety is controlling you and it doesn’t have to.
“do not be anxious about anything…”
2) Talk to God – recognize that He is with you and He is in control, not your circumstance or emotions.
…but in everything by prayer…
3) Ask God for what you need – instead of giving into a feeling, this will help you think about a plan. Maybe you don’t know what you need, ask God to show you. Sit with a pen and paper and ask God to reveal to you why you are anxious. Usually we feel anxious because of a perceived lack (of time, money, support, encouragement, knowledge, wisdom, people)
4) Thank God that in Christ we lack nothing – if you perceive a lack of resources, thank God for always providing in the past, that He knows what you need and can provide perfectly in your present. If you perceive a lack of support, thank God for His Spirit within you who can accomplish more than you could ask or imagine.
…with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God…
5) Think about these things – do not allow yourself to give into destructive thought patterns, instead take them captive. Ask God to help you expose the lie(s) you are believing and replace them with the truth of God’s word.
…whatever is TRUE,… Honorable,… Just,… Pure,… Lovely,… Commendable,…
Excellent,… Worthy of praise,… Think about these things… Philippians 4:8
6) Practice – don’t just take this as good information, do something with it.
…what you have learned and recieved and heard and seen in me – practice
these things,… Philippians 4:9a
7) Desire God, not just what He gives
…and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:9b
Remember that the purpose of this life journey is for us to know God intimately, believe Him fearlessly and Glorify Him passionately. Ultimately we want God, not His peace.
Q. When you are anxious ask God what He wants you to know or believe about Him and how He wants to get glory through you?