Breaking the bonds of worry

I admit it—I can be a worrier. That’s a problem, given Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:25 (“Therefore I tell you: Don’t worry”) and Paul’s challenge in Philippians 4:6 (“Don’t worry about anything”). I’m learning to overcome it, though, so maybe these suggestions will help you: 

1

Be honest with somebody about your worries 
Some of us—especially Christian leaders—realize that worry is problematic, so we don’t tell anybody when we do worry. Bearing worries alone, though, only increases the burden. Actually, worry is selfish (it ignores the offers of help from others who love us) and silly (it assumes no one else will understand). Don’t listen to Satan, who tries to convince you to fight your battles alone.   

2

Recognize worry for what it is: a lack of faith
Writing those words is painful to me as a worrier, but
I can’t ignore the reality. Worry says, “I’m not convinced God is going to take care of this problem.” Faith says, “I give it to You.” One of my steps in overcoming worry is to confess my lack of faith, and I’ve learned that taking this step can itself be freeing—especially when I confess it to someone who wants to help shoulder my burden.

3

Pray about what worries you
That’s what Paul told us to do in the rest of Philippians 4:6—“but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Humbly cast your cares on God by talking to Him (Psalm 55:22, 1 Peter 5:6-7) and by asking others to pray with you. Frankly, most of us would worry less if we just prayed more.

4

Read, memorize, and recite Jesus’ words as often as you need them
I know that’s a basic answer, but the Word trumps worries. Particularly, quote these words from Matthew 6:27: “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” Worry doesn’t accomplish anything, except hinder our relationship with our God—who, by the way, isn’t worried about anything. Bury His Word deeply into your heart and mind, and let Christ give you His peace the world won’t understand (Philippians 4:7).

5

Take steps to address whatever worries you
I’ve learned over the years that I’ve sometimes worried foolishly about things that really weren’t a problem in the first place (like, e.g., if I think I’ve made someone angry but choose not to ask if that’s the case). Worry becomes a consuming fire to me when it would hardly be an ember if I quit fretting and started doing something. Maybe that’s the case with you, too. 

Chuck Lawless is dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. For more from Lawless, visit chucklawless.com.

Dean of Doctoral Studies, Vice President of Spiritual Formation and Ministry Centers
Chuck Lawless
Southeastern Seminary
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