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Christians & Work, Stress

        Christian help for: stress at work places, bullying at work, family  stress, pressure at work, fear and intimidation, work pressure, nervous breakdown, depression and suicidal feelings, Christian employer abuses.

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Bullying at Work: A big problem?

        Bullying at work has received quite an amount of press coverage in the UK over the last couple of years. Although I don’t know about the rest of the world, it seems a safe assumption that there are bullies at work everywhere. But why? Well, some people just seem to enjoy making others suffer. Perhaps they like the sense of power they can hold over people who don’t want to loose their job. Or they use others as scapegoats if something goes wrong at work, out of selfish convenience.

         Whatever their work position, a manager above you, a peer, or a new upstart,  work bullies can make life an absolute misery. I must admit that we have not obtained any data, if any exists anyway, on how big a problem bullying at work is. However, going by my own experience, and that of friends and contacts, it is common place.

         We are here to recognise this problem of work bullying, and to hopefully help in some way. If you are being bullied at work, you have our sympathy. Please read the article below, and we hope the contact points and web links at the bottom of the page will help you in some way. If you know about other places of help, please e-mail us, putting “Work Bullies” in the the subject line; please click here.

        Please click here to read the articles and stories of others. Articles are meant to be from a Christian perspective, and talk about practical and Biblical ways of combating the problem of bullying at work. Stories are meant to be either positive or negative. Negative stories, or “Pray-for-me” stories, are cries for help - explaining the difficult situation a person is in. Positive stories, or “Praise-God” stories, are meant to describe how a person has been helped through by God, by the help of others, or by taking action themselves.

 

 

Combating Fear

 

 

        Fear can hold a significant power over people. Just as the School bully can use words and intimidation to scare his prey, so does the work bully. One of the main problems with being bullied at work is that it can be a difficult and risky process to complain. Perhaps the person who is bullying you is the Managing Director, or maybe they are friends with the Managing Director. If you complain, it will probably fall on deaf ears. You may be discriminated against, or you could even loose your job at a later date. Quite similar to the bullied child in a School, the situation can seem inescapable. It seems your lot to suffer, and it is normal to feel helpless in such a situation.

        Bullying has a psychological effect. It often undermines personal confidence, making people feel almost permanently uncomfortable. Sufferers experience mental stress, and if the problem persists, other problems such as depression could ensue. The thing about bullying is that it seems to place an unbelievable pressure and restriction on people. If you are being bullied, you usually won’t be enjoying life, worrying about your pressures at work, and what the boss will think when you don’t perform to unrealistic expectations.

        Bullying is serious because it has serious effects. It may be appropriate for you to see a doctor, as someone known well to me did. My contact had to take calming, antidepressant pills, and was off work because of mental stress. Without doubt you should at least share your suffering with whoever you can - a friend or someone known to you who you can trust.

Practical Issues

       To make things worse, in extreme cases where you feel your only option is to change jobs, this might be impossible. Maybe this is because of your age, your set of skills and experiences, or your geographical location. It could be very difficult to find another job - whether in the same or a different industry. On top of this, there is the chance that your reference may be unfairly negative, perhaps because you have tried to stand up for yourself about the bullying. Unless your financial situation affords it, be careful about giving your job up and then claiming government benefit, as in many countries (including the UK), you will have to prove that you were being bullied, which may be very difficult.

       Sickness payment for mental stress from a place of work is not always guaranteed, so you may want to get some official public advice. In the UK we have “Citizens Advice” public centres, which give general advice on a wide range of issues. Nervous breakdowns happens to many people, often when their own problems or particular sources of stress, remain undealt with.

       It is better to keep your health and and loose your job, than to fall apart with long term damage. However, if you have financial or family commitments it is understandable that you will feel trapped by your situation. What I can say is - get help from where ever you can, and we will pray for you if you e-mail us (see “Prayer Requests”, an internal link at the top of the page, or click here).

Help from Above

       There are varying degrees of bullying severity. Whatever the degree that you are experiencing, we want to offer some hope and encouragement to you. We believe that God can help us in many ways when we suffer. It is also prudent to get support from others. In your relationship with Jesus, the Lord might inspire or help you in many ways. When you pray to him, and really call on him, you may experience a deep peace, and a spiritual empowerment. Fear can be a powerful force, and it is a normal reaction when you are bullied. However, with your faith in God, fear can be confronted.

       As I have said, the risk of loosing your job if you complain or stand up for yourself is often a real one. We cannot give any specific advice about the wisdom of proactively countering bullying, as obviously every situation is different. None the less, what is clear is this: if you believe in Jesus, then you are a child of God, and you are saved. No bully can take this away, and this can be a real comfort. Looking at the Bible, we read;

     “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

       Without spending too long, and going into detailed exposition about the surrounding passage, we can know that these words are of encouragement to us. We are forgiven by God for our sin, so the power of fear itself is broken in our lives. We do not have to be overwhelmed or controlled by fear. The context of the passage is of having boldness to preach the Gospel and hold to the truth. If you are being unfairly victimised and treated badly, the reality is that God is in support of you. He is on your side: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

       We are all important to God, and your suffering is before his eyes. May you have hope in your suffering, as it says: “...in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose....We are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:28, 37). Not only do we have freedom from the death that our own sin has caused, we also have hope now and in the future to enjoy life with God. May you sense this hope in your difficult situation.

      In one of the Gospel’s (please e-mail me to let me know where, embarrassing I know - I went to Bible college!!), Jesus says, “Do not fear those who kill the Body, but then can do nothing to you.” Bullies can seem to threaten our whole lives, including perhaps our future financial security. They can rob us of happiness, just by their attitude towards us. But, don’t be afraid. Know Jesus is there with you.

       Use the Bible, and the truth you know about God and how good he feels about you, to combat fear. The reasons why bullies do what they do are perhaps less important. They may be inadequate, they may have very empty lives, they may have a sinful enjoyment of abusing their power. On top of this, the enemy can use victimisation to bring us down spiritually, threatening our faith and hope in God.

End Comments

        As I mentioned before, do the obvious and share your trouble with friends. Also, although quite limited, you may find some of the contacts and links below helpful. On top of this, there are the site sections on the left button bar. From my own experience, I have realised that you can find bullies in every type of job. Please e-mail us with your stories - both positive and negative, and also your articles. For instructions, please see the relevant pages by clicking on the links at the top of the page. We have a brief word below (after the following section), on general stress at work.

        Many or most work places can be stressful environments. Some work colleagues might seem unreasonable or harsh to us, but the reality is that they are not doing so deliberately or maliciously. It is important to make the distinction between true work bullies and people like this. The latter might sometimes be so stressed by the pressure that they are under that they off load this stress on to us in some form. This is not nice to experience, but should be seen in perspective, and can be got used to and tolerated.

 

 

Christian Employers

 

 

 

        A brief word on Christian employers. I have come across many people who have worked for a Church or Christian charity or organisation, who have had very negative experiences. Christian or not, we are all sinful, but still, we should treat one another reasonably and with respect within Church or Christian employment. There should be no manipulation of people “for the Kingdom”. I can understand the temptation to encourage Christian workers to work hard and long hours for relatively little money.

         Infact, I am quite sympathetic in one sense. Budgets can be very limited and the work demanding. However, there should be a balance. Job descriptions should be clear from the start, and working extra hours apart form this should be a free option depending on other personal circumstances of workers, as well as what seems mutually reasonable.

        If you are an Christian employer, access yourself carefully. Your employees should feel able to come to you with their problems or concerns without fear. There should be a positive working relationship present. If you are a Christian employee who has been treated badly in some way, access the negative impact of this on your faith - it can be significant. Think and pray about how to deal with the situation, and respect God more than any other person - including your employer. Consider bringing up the issue with them in a prudent way.

        It could be that you doubt the personal integrity of your employer, and you feel that their attitude or behaviour may be very Un-Christ-like. The reality is that there are probably more than a few Christians in leadership - obviously as well as Christians in general, who behave scandalously. An example would be leaders taking sexual advantage of vulnerable people under their pastoral care. This does happen, and it makes a mockery of a leader’s own stated convictions. Do your best to avoid such people, so that you are not implicated with them, as God is just and he will judge.

 

 

Stress

 

 

          Although we are not able to provide a great deal of comment about this problem, we hope that you will be able to find more help from the links to other sites at the bottom of the page.

         Stress, of course, does not just occur at work. Where ever you are you can experience it - caused by any number of factors. Here, we just want to recognise that it is an issue for many people. We know that many people need help or advice to be able to manage and cope with the pressure of stress.

          It is a fairly well known fact that stress is bad for your health. I know from some recent experiences in some of my own work how stress can cause strain on your entire being - physical, mental and spiritual. At work, stress may be caused by a difficult manager or colleague, or an angry customer if you are dealing with the public in your job. The point is that stress can by impossible to avoid.

         However, stress can be managed. In order to cope, preparation and strategies can often help. You need to get a grip of your situation and attempt to remain calm. Stop to breath! If you are in a stressful situation, at work or otherwise, predict the pressures you know are likely to come. Also, predict a positive way in which you can react to these - how you can answer the demand that will be put on you, and still maintain a positive attitude about yourself.

          For example, if you have to deal with difficult customers at a place of work, learn how to appease people and calm them down. Perhaps decide to pause and take a breath before you reply to the angry party. Try to deal with the situation in a clinical, professional way, rather than taking things personally and allowing your emotions to be drawn in to the point of stress. It is easier said than done, I know.

          Another example. If you are trying to manage young children on your own, identify ways in which you can help to meet both your children’s needs and your own. Practical things - such as activities which both your children and you enjoy doing, can reduce stress and help avoid conflict. Children are often unreasonable - because of their early point in the human development process, so perhaps you need an outlet, some break from managing them.

          Having a hobby, or being able to share your burdens with others who are in a similar situation, can bring you hope and compensate for the difficulties and stresses. And at the time when a riot has broken out in your own home, hold on to your relationship with God. Think of a scripture that encourages you, or play a song quietly in the background. One that you like and that brings you hope because of its positive music or words. In short, be creative, and think of ways that you can help yourself.

         As I have just mentioned, it is important to remember your relationship with God. At the place of your stress, you need to remember that you are not alone, and that God’s love for you is constant. If we are being threatened by people, or by a difficult situation, it is hard to sense the reality of this. It takes courage, discipline and trust - but use scriptures to help you. The Bible reflects the truth about God and his faithfulness to you. Learn helpful scriptures off by heart, and let them be your hope and comfort. There are many helpful scriptures that can be found in the Encouragement section to the left (and through the related links provided there).

         Finally, try to get help and support from friends and from your Church. If stress does get serious, it may be wise to seek some medical advice about how it is affecting you, and how you can manage it better. I would certainly say that it is better to do this sooner rather than later - before things get out of hand and pressure becomes crushing. Please also have a look at the links and contacts below which relate to stress.

 

 

Contacts & Web Links

 

 

Bullying

Citizens Advice (UK) - Please search www.helplines.org.uk for a local contact point. This site may also include contacts for specific help for work-related problems.

The Samaritans (UK) - Tel. 0845 790 9090. (Text phone 0845 790 9192).

www.successunlimited.co.uk - check for a lot of links and good depth of information.

UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line - Tel. 01235 212286.

www.stress.org.uk/bullying.htm - a detailed and academic project on workplace bullying.

www.workplacebullying.co.uk/index.html - (UK) Bullying, Stress, Employment law.

 

Christians and Work Sites

www.workwise.org.uk - Christian site about being in the world of work.

www.christiansatwork.org.uk/html/home.html - similar to above.

www.christiancontact.org/about.htm - a Christian advice agency for the work place.

 

Stress

www.stress.org.uk - information and links.

International Stress Management Association - www.isma.org.uk.

American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress - www.aaets.org. A network of professionals committed to the advancement of intervention for survivors of trauma. It aims to identify expertise among professionals, across disciplines, and to provide standards for those who work regularly with survivors. There are some very good articles on their publications page from their journal ""Stress Response".

American Institute of Stress - www.stress.org. A good American site, but limited free information.

British Medical Journal - www.bmj.com. Search under Stress.

Breath Relaxation - www.euronet.nl/users/dixhoorn, Dutch site. A source of information on relaxation and breathing therapy. Summaries of technical papers on breathing and relaxation techniques and details of courses.

www.netdoctor.co.uk - general medical site with a lot of information.

Work-related stress, particularly through bullying - www.successunlimited.co.uk.

www.ccgplc.com - resources companies to develop - and also care for, their staff. Perhaps you could persuade your company to use it services, or to provide this sort of care at work in some other way.

www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/3634 - Information and guidance concerning marital/family problems; addiction; bereavement; crisis and/or stress related issues.

www.workplacebullying.co.uk/index.html - (UK) Bullying, Stress, Employment law.

 

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