“For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” – 2 Cor 1:8
Its funny, how many things in this world can be both good and bad for us depending on the context. Fire can bring heat and also burn buildings, water can bring floods but also sustain life, and spiders kill mosquitoes but also are scary (and of the devil), but the most intriguing of these dualitys is pressure!
Pressure is one of the greatest things that are involved in our lives. With enough pressure and time (and coal) you can get diamonds. With correct pressure and students you can get leaders. However, even though pressure can make great things it can also (as a recent event in my life can attest) be a crushing unbearable burden.
Pressure, in Christ, can come in many forms. It comes in wise council and instruction, in discipline and punishment, in encouragement and fellowship, and in faith and prayer. However, like most things there is a very fine line between too little and too much. There is a fine line between just the right amount of council and not enough, between discipline and encouragement, and between safety and faith.
How do we appropriately apply pressure?
1. Pressure is Best Applied Differently
“Even in my short ministry life I have learned that what will turn one person into a diamond will crush another into dust. There was a old preacher who said ‘good leaders play checkers…great leaders play chess’. The idea is that everyone in this life needs pressure in different ways and when you learn to “play” everyone according to there needs you are approaching great leadership.”
2. Pressure is Best Applied Evenly
“Diamonds, as we all know, are made over long periods of time due to constant and even pressure. Likewise, when we put pressure on others ,even in Christ, we need to apply that pressure evenly over time. In fact going from no pressure to massive pressure is like taking a red hot skillet from a red hot stove to a cold water tub…much more likely to crack than clean.”
3. Pressure is Best Applied Singularly
“Some may not agree on this point, but it is one that I believe in with my whole heart. The best ratio of people applying pressure is one to one. Through my entire life the time where I have seen people be cracked and burdened by pressure the most is when every acquaintance decides they should be the one to apply pressure. This causes the pressure in that persons life to increase to the point where they are “smooshed” by all the advice.
In the end all that can be said about pressure is that it is very important, and very dangerous. It should be handled with care and concern for the person “under pressure”. If our goal is to produce diamonds then we need to allow for time and not rush the process with more pressure.