Learning the unforced rhythms of grace


Avoiding Burn Out


Why are we burning out?

Why are there so many God-loving people bracing themselves to enter the doors of their church for fear of being pressured into doing something more, or caring for others when they themselves are exhausted?

Doesn't God require us to give unselfishly to others? To be 'servants' ? Isn't Jesus' example the one we are to follow? And he was available for people all the time wasn't he?

Wasn't he?

I searched the word 'available' in a study regarding the Bible and tried to match it up with the word Jesus. It didn't work. I searched the words 'Jesus went' and found a surprising trail of places and people who Jesus went to that had nothing to do with him being 'available' to them. He went away, he left town, he walked away from people, from needs and from the sick. But Scripture says that Jesus is love, he loved people perfectly, without sin, and in complete obedience to God.

Jesus was not 'available' to people. He often withdrew to quiet and solitary places. His disciples often had to find him. His mother and family had to come to look for him. Yet he loved, deeply, sincerely and sacrificially.

I heard people say this week, "I just want to be available for my family". "I just want to be available to my congregation - whatever they need, they can call me." "My staff know they can call me and I'm there for them".

Is that love?

When I was diagnosed with a chronic illness in my early twenties and at the same time fully engaged in helping people, 'serving' at my church, giving to the needy, being 'available' to people, all that good stuff, I was unable to do those activities any longer. I felt devastated and useless. I needed to know what the bottom line was in being a Christ-follower. What was Jesus really about and what 'religious' activities had I taken on that Jesus wouldn't? I dove into reading the Gospels and found a Jesus who was courageous and gutsy. He loved people intently but did what was best for them. It often meant that they were uncomfortable or had to go home and face the consequences of their own choices. Some loved him, some wanted to murder him.

I wanted to know what the bottom line was. What was the most important thing in being a Christ - follower?

One of the experts of the Hebrew law asked Jesus this same thing. They said,

"Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22: 36-40.

Could it be that we are too available for people? Are we trying to be their hero, their Saviour? Does God require that of us? Thankfully - no.

Let's be mindful of our schedules, our commitments, our ability to say 'no' and 'yes' to people. Let's choose to love God with everything we are, love others sincerely and with courage and wisdom like Jesus did, and love ourselves by caring for our own needs, responsibly and with humility. Let's take time to consider HOW God wants us to love others before we react to the needs around us.

Let's not burn out.