Faith is your best tool for fighting on-the-job stress

| Tom Bengtson | April 27, 2011 | 0 Comments

Office StressA friend used to tell me: “Don’t worry about the things you can control because you can control them. And don’t worry about the things you can’t control because you can’t control them!”

Bobby McFerrin said something similar: “Don’t worry; be happy.”

Of course, they are both paraphrasing Jesus, who said: “Peace be with you.”

God doesn’t want us to stress out, and we get a lot of advice to that effect in Scripture.

Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything.”

Matthew 6:27 asks, “Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?”

And who can forget the story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:41), where Jesus tells Martha to slow down? “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things. . . .”

Three-part approach

Work can be stressful, especially if we find conflict with customers, colleagues or the boss. God gave us things like exercise, healthy food and vacations to help us manage everyday stress, but there is more we can do to actually begin feeling that peace that Jesus wants for us. Consider this three-part strategy:

Pray: You develop a relationship with anyone by talking to them; Jesus is no different. Prayer helps you build your relationship with God. Bring him your worries, concerns and stresses in daily prayer.

Be thankful: Stress is often caused by worrying over something you want. It’s fine to want things, but only after taking time to acknowledge all that you have. Take time to thank God for his many blessings upon you. Thank him for your family, health, friends, work, home, faith, parish, clothing, car, flowers, sunshine, fresh air and more. As you cultivate the virtue of gratitude, you may find yourself wanting less, and therefore stressing out less.

Return a smile for every smirk: I call this the St. Thérèse of Lisieux tactic. Another sister at the convent was mean to St. Thérèse, yet the Little Flower treated her with kindness. She didn’t return her mean-spirited ways with equally mean gestures; instead, she returned them with undeserved smiles and kindness. This is the ultimate weapon for dealing with troublesome colleagues. Jesus instructed us to do as much. In Matthew 5:39, he says to turn the other cheek. You don’t actually have to get into a fight to make this counsel meaningful.

This third step is challenging. It will be easier to do if you’ve mastered the first two steps, which I am betting St. Thérèse did.

Work doesn’t have to be a stressor. Faith is your best tool for defeating stress. As Jesus wants peace for you, think about bringing peace to others.

Tom Bengtson is president of NFR Communications in Minneapolis. Reach him at

Category: Faith and the Workplace