STRESS Sermon Illustrations

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Sermon Illustrations


Kevin Carter could never escape his continent's turmoil. for a decade, the photographer captured vivid pictures of repression and strife in his native South Africa. Last year, he went to famine-racked Sudan and came upon a starving toddler stalked by a vulture. He photographed the scene--an image that won this year's Pulitzer Prize--then chased the vulture away. As the child resumed her walk to a feeding station, he lit a cigarette and wept. Last week, at 33, he killed himself with carbon monoxide pumped into his pickup truck. Explained his father: "Kevin always carried around the horror of the work he did."

U.S. News and World Report, August 8, 1994.

Christy Henrich, as a teenager, ranked among America's best gymnasts. But a judge told her that at 95 pounds, spread over a 4-foot-11 frame, she was too fat to make the 1988 Olympic team. So she began starving herself, subsisting some days on an apple or just an apple slice. If she ate more, she would force herself to vomit. She missed making the Olympics by a fraction of a point but, thanks to nine-hour training days, she placed fourth in the uneven parallel bars in 1989's world championships in Stuttgart. Last week -- months after her weight fell to 52 pounds -- she died at age 22 in a Kansas City hospital of multiple organ system failure. In the past two years, gymnastics officials have advised coaches and judges about the effects of anorexia and bulimia and urged them not to comment on the weights of gymnasts.


Commentary and Devotional

Traits characteristic of the stress-prone:

1. Plans day unrealistically
2. First to arrive, last to leave
3. Always in a hurry
4. Makes no plan for relaxation
5. Feels guilty about doing anything other than work
6. Sees unforeseen problem as a setback or disaster
7. Is always thinking about several other things when working
8. Feels need to be recognized and overextends because of this

What to do:

1. Recognize aggravating aspects of your job and accept them rather than fight them. Wisdom to discern what can and cannot be changed, attempt to change the first and accept the second.
2. Identify your emotional needs and find ways to meet them.
3. Practice listening--it is more relaxing than talking
4. Be sensitive to change--sense it coming and make adjustments. This makes change manageable rather than insurmountable.

From Leadership, V. 1, #3, p. 99.

Symptoms of stress overload:

1. Decision-making becomes difficult (both major and minor kinds).
2. Excessive daydreaming or fantasizing about "getting away from it all."
3. Increased use of cigarettes and/or alcohol.
4. Increased use of tranquilizers and "uppers."
5. Thoughts trail off while speaking or writing.
6. Excessive worrying about all things.
7. Sudden outbursts of temper and hostility.
8. Paranoid ideas and mistrust of friends and family.
9. Forgetfulness for appointments, deadlines, dates.
10. Frequent spells of brooding and feeling of inadequacy.
11. Reversals in usual behavior.

Keith W. Wehnert, Stress/Unstress, 1981, Augsburg.

Statistics and Research

Responsibility for others is one of the chief causes of tension in executives. To prove this idea, an experiment was conducted some time ago with two monkeys. Scientists devised a method of giving one of the monkeys "executive" training under carefully controlled laboratory conditions.

The monkey chosen for executive training was strapped in a chair with his feet on a plate capable of giving him a minor electric shock. Then they put a light over the desk and turned the light on 20 seconds before each shock. A lever was placed by the monkey's chair. If he pulled the lever after the light came on, the light would go out and there would be no shock. The executive monkey learned to avoid the shock very quickly.

The scientists then placed another monkey across the room with the same setup, except that the second monkey's lever didn't work. However, the monkeys soon learned that the first monkey's lever would work for both, turning off the second monkey's light and protecting him from shock as well. This made the first monkey an executive, since he was now responsible for preventing shock for the second one.

The first monkey was intelligent. He quickly took over, protecting both himself and his colleague from shock, responding to both lights or either light without difficulty.

There was no outward change in either monkey as the experiment continued, but after awhile the executive monkey, responding to the stress of responsibility for another, developed stomach ulcers. The second monkey's health remained unchanged.



Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length;
Pressed so intensely, it seems beyond strength;
Pressed in the body, and pressed in the soul;
Pressed in the mind, till the dark surges roll.
Pressure by foes, and pressure by friends--
Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends.
Pressed into knowing no helper but God;
Pressed into loving the staff and the rod.
Pressed into liberty where nothing clings;
Pressed into faith for impossible things.
Pressed into tasting the joy of the Lord;
Pressed into loving a Christlife outpoured.

Author unknown.

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