Torch, Fall 1984

President's Perspective by Dr. Paul Dixon T he gentleman sat next to me on the airplane. He wanted to talk. I listened as he systematically unfolded a story of a stressful experience in his work . As he perceived it, people were the primary stress producers that afflicted his life. On another trip of mine, to a west coast city, a lady related to me her years of a frustrating marriage filled with accompanying stress and eventual divorce. There it was again, stress perceived as produced by others. Stress is indeed rampant in the type of society in which we live . Unfortunately, Christians are caught in the grip of stress-producing trials. Rather than accepting them as friends (James 1:2) and as times of learning and of spiritual growth, all too many believers are devastated by stresses . This produces spiritually crippled Christians rather than Christians who are spiritually overcoming the cares of life . As we reflect on our personal histories, we generally conclude that the majority of our most stressful experiences came out of the struggle of interpersonal relationships. Perhaps they arose in our family or on the job. Quite possibly they took place in our local church. The question is - how have we handled our share of stress? The Apostle Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ .. ." (Philippians 4: 13). In the articles that follow in this issue, you will read many helpful suggestions that can help you cope with the stress producers in your life. Barnabas was a stress reducer. He was the man who accompanied Paul on his missionary journeys. His name means "son of consolation" (Acts 4:36) and could also be rendered "son of encouragement." I believe that all Christians should sign up for the Barnabas Club and be stress reducers by helping and encouraging one another .. In classical Greek, the word "encourage" had to do with cheering on the troops who were about to enter battle. Life is a battle and all of us can handle our stresses better when an encourager comes across our path. Chuck Swindoll says, "Encouragement is inspiring others with renewed courage, spirit, or hope – to spur them on." I especially like the message of Proverbs 12:25: "Heaviness in the heart of a man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad ." Encouragement may take the form of a friendly note or phone call. It might mean inviting a friend to share a meal. Even a smile goes a long way these days. Our spirit of concern, love, and a willingness to just listen are all ways we can meet the stress needs in another's life. F. B. Meyer said, "If I had my life to live over again, I would spend much more time in the ministry of comfort and encouragement." During the 1982-83 college year, we had a theme of "Serving the Lord - Serving One Another." It crystallizes a Christian value that we communicate to our students and our college family. We live for God and we live for people. One way we can live for people is to encourage them in their need. The question, then, for each of us is: "Will we be people who produce stress in others or those who reduce it? 3