Ok let’s be real for just a minute. Doesn’t a nap sound marvelous? I mean – what is better than snuggling down on the couch under a fluffy blanket for a good snooze? Ahhhh……
But that’s not actually the kind of nap I’m talking about. I’m talking about a non-anxious presence.
Not familiar with the term? Neither was I until a few weeks ago.
I landed at the small airport in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania – nervous and excited about my first consulting assessment with Ministry Architects. We help churches all over the country build sustainable ministries, and this was my first opportunity not only to observe what our process looks like, but to help lead the process as well.
Often when we come into a church, there are many factors causing frustration, confusion or discouragement. I wanted to be a breath of fresh air to these precious people, which meant I had to still the voices inside telling me how inadequate and unqualified I am. I needed to project confidence, encouragement, and hope.
It was during a meal with the church’s wise and gentle pastor that I heard the phrase “non-anxious presence.” The pastor was telling a story that included his assistant discreetly suggesting that the pastor needed a “nap”. When she sees him getting flustered or anxious, this is their code for remembering to seek for and become that person who projects calm and hope to those around them.
That struck a chord with me.
The pastor himself was an incredible example of a non-anxious presence. Though he had asked us to come in and observe, question, and look into every aspect of their ministry, he was not on edge at all. Even when a freak winter thunderstorm came through town, resulting in the flooding of several homes belonging to the congregation, he kept calm and steady.
His non-anxious demeanor radiated to everyone around him, creating an atmosphere of peace during a time when uncertainty and chaos could have been more natural.
Do you know anyone like that? Someone who is a pillar of calm in the midst of chaos?
These are people who:
- have an inner stability that radiates outward
- reduce the negative energy in a situation simply with their presence
- calmly maintain a sense of direction in the midst of conflict
- preserve a reasonable sense of hope
- respond instead of react
- acknowledge anxiety without letting it drive their behavior
- connect to their people without becoming attached to their swirling emotions
Who can you surround yourself with when you are going through an anxious, fearful, or uncertain time?
Are you a non-anxious presence?
If not, will you choose to become one?