Nevertheless, whether we are business leaders, ministry leaders, or parents, our peace level is critical to our leadership and influence. Inner chaos or chronic stress not only impacts our ability to think clearly or respond appropriately, but it impacts those around us. Scientific studies have now actually given this a name—it’s called “secondhand stress.”
As leaders, we often look for peace through positive partnerships, harmonious interactions, and smooth transactions. However, conflict is a part of this world, sometimes to an extreme. While the definition of peace includes “freedom from disturbance or oppressive thoughts, harmony, and calm,” learning to keep in peace isn’t always an easy thing. Unchecked levels of personal stress not only wear us out mentally, emotionally, and physically, they can easily perpetuate a state of chaos in those we lead.
I recently took a Critical Incident Stress Management course and was impacted by one simple fact: when conflict or chaos happens, the first thing people seek is safety and stabilization—we seek peace. We look for what will bring us back to a sense of “norm.” And if we can’t find it, we may look to unhealthy ways of self-comforting. The truth is that God created us to function from a place of peace. It is no wonder that the Redeemer He sent to restore us is called the Prince of Peace.
So, how can we both live and lead in peace in the midst of a chaotic world? Here are seven helpful tips:
- Seek solutions, not control—We like to control life (and people) around us. And when we can’t, we get stressed and out of peace. Learning to find solutions and implement helpful changes where we can, as well as accepting what we can’t change, is important for abiding in peace. Seek out wisdom from trustworthy voices on ways to ease any conflict that is troubling you.
- Practice positivity—Perspective is key! Practice looking at situations from a different perspective and positive outlook. Address any mindsets that are sabotaging your peace, as well as where that mindset came in; hold them up to the clarifying light of God’s truth. Also, take time to do something you enjoy. Laugh as often as you can! Laughter is like emotional aerobics that flings away disturbances of the soul.
- Forgive—Bitterness and resentment war against your peace. They wreak havoc in your mind and body, elevating cortisol levels, increasing blood pressures, straining adrenals, and keeping you imprisoned in negative emotions. Forgiveness isn’t approving another’s wrong or sweeping things under the rug. It means that you don’t allow the offense to dominate you or implant a bitter root inside you. Forgiveness means to send the offense away as you commit the situation to God and look to Him for His counsel. He is able to bring about good out of something bad.
- Love how God made you—Celebrate who you are and the gifts you have. Don’t compare yourselves to others. 2 Corinthians 10:12 calls comparing ourselves with others as “unwise.” You are unique—celebrate it! Doing so overthrows the voices that want to oppress you with words of unworthiness or lack of value. These war against peace. Your uniqueness is a beautiful facet of His image that He wants to shine.
- Practice self-care—Eat healthy and exercise. Choose healthy foods that nourish brain and body activities, rather than junk food that may taste good but actually works against healthy brain and body functions and thus against inner harmony. You may be tempted to reach for an unhealthy “comfort” food when stressed, but healthy food is critical for restoring taxed adrenals. Begin to make those lifestyle changes so that eating healthy is a “norm.” Worry and stress create toxins; these wear you down at the cellular level. Another way to get rid of them is through exercise. Make a habit of 15-30 minutes a day to exercise and release those toxins from your body.
- Get organized—Disorder is another factor that creates stress. Set aside a day to put things in order. If you need to, hire someone to help you get organized. Peace is a by-product of order.
- Trust God in the uncomfortable—Practice rehearsing God’s promises, as well as past experiences where you have seen God come through for you. Exercise confidence with expectation that He who is faithful will bring you through to an expected end. And remember, the God of Peace will crush Satan under your feet…shortly (Rom. 16:20).
How about you? What do you find helpful to keep your soul in a place of inner peace?
J. Nicole Williamson is an inspirational speaker, author, and CEO of King’s Lantern International, a motivational ministry. Certified with AACC and a licensed minister with a Bachelor of Theology, she trains in personal development through empowered thinking, authentic identity, and intimacy with God. Her books include The Empowered Woman, Heaven’s Secret of Success, and Freedom in the Light. She and her husband live in the Dallas, Texas area. For more information, see www.kingslantern.com.