Read: Zechariah 4:6 |
On Sunday afternoon, the Pastor’s wife dropped into an easy chair saying, “Boy! Am I ever tired.” Her husband looked over at her and said, “I had to conduct two special services last night, three today, and give a total of five sermons. Why are you so tired?”
“Dearest,” she replied, “I had to listen to all of them.”
Pastors, spouses and church workers carry the heaviest burden of preparation for our worship experiences. However, these yoke fellows who perform the yeoman’s work in our Churches day after day can grow weary without the proper rest.
In our last posting, we provided a backdrop for how burnout can slowly extinguish our fire and deplete our drive to help people discover and mature in Christ. This week we will explore the potential blessings of burn-out.
The blessings of burn-out can lead to re-birth
Burn-out does not need to end in a flame-out, it can lead to a re-birth. Linda Sechrist, in a secular article entitled “The Benefits of Burnout” wrote:
In a culture wedded to positive thinking, burnout and its first cousin, depression, are thought of as disorders in need of a fix. What if instead, we see them as losses of naïveté, false identities and faulty assumptions that are making way for a more authentic life? What if we viewed burnout as an invitation to come into alignment with a more elegant expression of our gifts, relationships and overall life energy?
Linda’s points translate from the secular to our spiritual lives. In fact, the Bible contains examples of burn-out and re-birth in the stories of Elijah, Moses, Noah, Timothy and others.
Let us look closely at the story of Elijah found in I Kings 18-19. At this point, Elijah, after hiding for 3 years during a drought that he had prophesied, reveals himself to a desperate King Ahab.
Subsequently, the Lord grants him:
- Victory over the 450 prophets of Baal
- Allowed him to prophesy that the drought would end and a miraculous rain would fall on the valley
- Gave him the strength to outrun a chariot from the valley of Mount Carmel to Jezreel
Nevertheless, when he hears that Queen Jezebel wants to have him killed, he reaches a tipping point and fizzles out.
He said in I Kings 19:4 “I have had enough, Lord,” …. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”
Now, after all that God had done through him, he didn’t have the fortitude to take one more step of faith. His faith faltered. His flame flickered. His foresight was filtered by feelings and not his faith. Like Elijah, when we encounter burn-out, it can lead to withdrawing, avoiding, becoming less approachable, openness to sin and becoming a less productive believer.
We can follow God’s response to Elijah in 1 Kings Chapter 19. His response lead to Elijah’s re-birth:
|Rest||Elijah||He allowed Elijah to sleep (19:5)|
|Us||Rest and relax often to maintain the proper balance;
Avoid motoring through ministry opportunities totally on our own power.
|Refreshment||Elijah||He sent an angel to provide food for him to eat (19:5)|
|Us||Refresh each day with proper diet and exercise|
|More Rest||Elijah||He allowed Elijah to sleep again (19:6)|
|Us||Recuperate by reevaluating commitments, priorities, and responsibilities regularly.|
|More Refreshment||Elijah||He sent an angel to provide food for him to eat again (19:7).|
|Us||Relegate and delegate for reinforcement;
Build/work with a team of like-minded people. Use their gifts and yours to get the best answer. Do not try to do it all yourself, even if you can
|Reflection||Elijah||He caused Elijah to ponder what he was doing. “What are you doing here?” (19:9)|
|Us||Re-focus and commune with God to confirm that we are operating within His plan for our lives|
|Relationship||Elijah||He spoke to Elijah, personally (19:11)|
|Us||Relationship matters; Stay in alignment and within touching distance of Him|
|More Reflection||Elijah||He caused Elijah to ponder what he was doing, again. “What are you doing here?” (19:13)|
|Us||Reflect on what God has called you to do rather than what others would like you to do|
|Redirection||Elijah||He told Elijah what to do next (19:15)|
|Us||Redirect by saying “yes” to what God says and “no” to requests that do not line up with God’s direction for you|
|Reinforcement||Elijah||He showed Elijah who He had appointed to help him (19:16)|
|Us||Remain in close and constant communion with God|
God has a plan for each person that is uniquely suited to each of us. Unlike people, God never piles on more than we can handle. God never drives His servants to the point of breakdown. If this is true, why do so many people struggle with too much to do and burn out from overwork and exhaustion?
Is God responsible? No!
When Paul told us in Romans 12 to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, he was not telling us to burn ourselves out in the process. Burning out and then sidelining ourselves from serving God is not holy nor pleasing to God. The challenge is to maintain a balance so that you can worship Him in a true and proper way, continuously.
Series Outline with links:
1. Reward – Serve Him for the reward of His fellowship and presence in your life
2. Fear – Serve Him with a reverent fear and respect for His power, presence and protection
3. Duty – Serve Him dutifully; we are called to serve Him
4. Love – Serve with all your heart, soul and mind
5. Joy – Serve Him joyfully; the joy of the Lord is our strength
1. Temptation and Sin – Cannot serve Him because I’m not “holy” enough
2. Burn-out Part 1 – Cannot serve Him because I’ve lost motivation and energy
3. Burn-out Part 2 – Cannot serve Him because I need to refuel and reload
4. Rationalization – Cannot serve Him because I don’t have the time, talent, treasure necessary
5. Procrastination – Future – Cannot serve Him because I’m not able to find the right opportunity and follow through
1. Discover –
A. When you “rest” are you able to truly separate yourself from your responsibilities to truly enjoy the moment? If not, talk to others who are able to accomplish this to find out their secret. In fact, tell me I need to get better in this area.
B. Is being a workacholic for the Lord in ministry a good thing? Why or why not?
Hint: Name a few and note their ministry and track record
2. Develop –
A. How do you integrate rest, relaxation and refreshment into a day that already does not have enough time in the day? Note some ways that you can begin to prayerfully begin to prioritize your calendar.
B. As a brother/sister in Christ, what is your responsibility to other Believers that exhibit signs of burn-out? What tools can you use to help them create a sustainable pace?
3. Demonstrate –
A. How would your spouse or family describe your workload?