Under Pressure

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In 1981 the iconic song “Under Pressure” was released to the world, displaying the genius of David Bowie and Queen. There are many debates on the interwebs about the meaning of this song, but the most common explanations I found were: 1. the song is about the difficulties and pressures of life and needing to have compassion on one another and 2. the song is about the pressure of being gay in a homophobic society. Regardless of what you feel the song is about, I think we can all agree that when you’re under an immense amount of pressure, love can help you relieve some of that burden.

Pressure looks a little different for everyone based on their circumstances and capacity. Whether you feel you thrive under pressure or not, everyone has a breaking point when it all becomes just too much. You might be able to handle pressure in the office well but falter when it comes to relational stress. Regardless of how you react to it, I think we can all agree that each one of us faces some type of pressure every day.

The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”

Imagine being Moses. How much would that have sucked? He was called by God to lead this group of people out of Egypt and into the land that God had promised them. I’m sure that his mental image of this role was nothing like the reality of the job. His imaginings of this task probably didn’t include having to babysit a bunch of complaining people who enjoyed disobeying instructions. Had I been in his shoes, I would’ve pictured fighting epic battles and being a beloved hero, but that’s only a small part of his story.

More than just leading a group of unruly people, Moses was tasked with telling them about God. He and Aaron were the mouthpieces of the Lord, playing an elaborate game of telephone with some of the most important information humanity would ever receive. Imagine the pressure upon Moses! Imagine the loneliness he must’ve felt. Imagine the pain each harsh word uttered against him and God inflicted. Imagine the fear of saying or doing the wrong thing and potentially harming an entire nation of people. Talk about pressure!

Now I want you to think about the leaders in your life. While they might not be speaking to you from a mountainside or leading you around the desert, we all have leaders in our lives. I’m talking about bosses and supervisors, pastors and teachers, parents or spouses, and government officials. Each one of these groups has a different level of authority in our lives. Imagine for a moment what they’re going through. If there’s someone on this list you like the least, I would encourage you to imagine their position and experience first.

When a leader in my life has made a decision I don’t agree with, I take a moment and try to put myself in their shoes. I’m not going to lie, I usually get mad about their decision first and then after a while I remember that they’re a human being too. Then I begin to ponder what it would be like to be them. What would it feel like to be in their situation? Why might they think their decision is the right option? Then, after I’ve remembered that they are indeed imperfect human beings, I remember to pray for them. I don’t always do this right away, but this is a habit that I’m consistently working to cultivate in my life.

The leaders in our lives need our prayers. Whether you agree or disagree with them, we are tasked to pray for those who are in authority over us. I encourage you to take a few moments to pray for leaders, regardless of how you feel about them, today.

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