Today at Starbucks I encountered someone having a very bad day. As I sat outside with my friend Rog for our every Thursday morning meeting, listening to the birds chirp as we talked about life, the struggles of ministry and God; there was a very angry and disappointed person working around us. Apparently someone failed to put a trash liner in the trash can. People had been throwing coffee cups, most of them with some remaining coffee in them, into this unlined container. She had to clean up someone else’s mess. It was obvious to us that she was having a very stressful day.
My first thought was to criticize her. How dare she ruin our time of leisure; our time we have reserved to talk about “God things”! Why get so upset about spilled coffee? We were sharing stories of ministry; important stuff! If she wanted to see stress; I could show her stress.
Then something seemed to whisper in my ear. This lady was having a stressful day. From her perspective, with what she had planned to do today, this was an interuption. It was unnecessary and stress-producing. From her perspective this was huge. I decided rather than think bad thoughts of her that I would pray for God to comfort her and turn her day for good.
As I pulled away from Starbucks this morning that whisper appeared again. Maybe my staff feels that way at times. Perhaps the volunteers sometimes get stressed with their responsibilities. I may look at them and think, “What’s the big deal?” To me it may seem like trivial stress, but to them it may be major stress. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Maybe I need to take a lesson in leadership from Jesus. He could recognize the seemingly little stress times; like running out of wine at a wedding ceremony; and the big stress times, like when a dear friend was facing execution. He even handled his own stress with confidence; like when an entire ministry held in the balance of His very next move. Regardless of the size of the stress moment Jesus brought comfort not chaos and handled the situation with a calm assurance; understanding that stress in all of our lives is always a matter of perspective.