By Hansel Fletcher - May 29, 2018

My Experience – Handling Stress

The healing and teaching ministry of Jesus displays many characteristics that can encourage and inspire anyone that finds himself/herself in an administrative role that embraces servant leadership.  Members of the Loma Linda University community that implement this approach as part of our function sometimes miss one of the key components that can lead to great pain.  How to handle stress that comes with the job.

An analysis of the life of Christ portrays major crisis moments in His life and notes how the Lord handled each stressful situation. We cannot perform our function effectively and glorify God if our feelings are compressed or constrained by a mental burden.  We are promised in John 16:33 NASB “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”   We cannot escape stress in the function of our jobs. However, by faith and trusting obedience to Jesus’ example, we can manage to keep from being “stressed out.”

My personal journey as a faculty member at Loma Linda University has taught me to stay focused on Jesus as an example for leadership. One of my favorite passages, Matthew 6:25-27 NIV, says “Therefore I tell  you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can anyone of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” 

My three-part approach incorporated as part of a daily routine has helped me to stay calm and focused in periods of challenges.  I have adopted a daily 5-9 mile walk with ample time to communicate with God, thanking Him for His blessings and requesting strength to stay calm in the face of the storm – the more intense the storm the longer the walk. Prayer helps build your relationship with God to whom you can bring your anxieties, concerns and stresses in daily prayer.  Being thankful can reduce the stress which is often caused by the development of intense anxiety over something you want to achieve.  Take time to thank God for your many blessings. Thank him for your family, friends, health and job including the challenge of the day that will result in an important lesson in the training to accomplish His mission for your life. Thank God for the roads already travelled. As a little boy born in the rural part of a third world country, I am reminded that it is not where you were born but where you are headed. As you cultivate and develop an attitude for gratitude, you may find yourself less anxious, and therefore stressing out less. Finally, stay calm in the face of any challenge.  This can only be achieved by complete trust in God’s faithfulness.  As Jesus demonstrated in the Garden of Gethsemane and again on the Cross, He commended His spirit into God’s hands.  God has the final word in any situation.  Thus, full partnership with God is the most powerful antidote for any challenge. With this partnership, a recent quote shared with me is the reality, “Don’t mistake silence for weakness, smart [god-fearing] people don’t plan big moves out loud.”  Sometimes our challenges may not have quick answers, simple solutions, or a ready way of escape. Yet, God is always faithful. “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). We can always entrust ourselves to his care, with full confidence and without reservation. Handling stress comes from seeing things from God’s perspective. His perfect will and eternal plan for us can get us through stress for today, tomorrow, next week and even unto the day of eternity.  This has been my experience.

Dr. Fletcher is currently the Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Affairs in the School of Medicine at Loma Linda University.  He is also Professor and Vice Chair for the Department of Basic Sciences, Division of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. Since 2004, He has been serving as the Graduate Program Director for the Division of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics. Nationally, he currently serves on the Education Boards for the Association of Medical School Microbiology and Immunology Chairs and the American Society for Microbiology.  He serves on several study panels for the National Institutes of Health, including study sections that evaluate grants for the training and development of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty at the early stages of their career.  He serves on the editorial board of multiple scientific journals and is one of the Associate Editors for the Molecular Oral Microbiology journal.  Dr. Fletcher holds Adjunct professorships at Universities in the United States of America, India, China, South Korea and Jamaica. The 2015 Lifetime achievement award was conferred December 18, 2015, on Dr. Fletcher by the Indian Association of Applied Microbiologist. He was elected President for the International Association for Dental Research (IADR) Microbiology/Immunology scientific group in March 2017.  He received the President’s Medallion from Northern Caribbean University at their graduation commencement August 2017. 

Dr. Fletcher’s career is supported by Pauline, his wife, partner and friend of over 28 years. She is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator and holds a Master of Public Health degree.  She currently serves as a Clinical Dietitian for the Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.  They have 2 adult children.  Chantel Fletcher is a medical student at Loma Linda University.  Conrad Fletcher is a junior Biomedical Sciences