Burnout – If God’s in it it doesn’t burn
People talk about it. And they experience it. I think it’s best described as a time when I started getting so tired of what I’m doing or the path I’m on that I start getting irritated with everyone around me, frustrated with the timing, and angry that I got into this in the first place. I start saying things like, “I’d quit this in a heartbeat if I could.” Or “I have to do this because no one else will help me.” Here are some thoughts from the life of Moses and his experience with the burning bush that helped me overcome burnout. Exodus 3.1-6 Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian ; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush ; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. So Moses said, “I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses !” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Do not come near here ; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”
A. The bush was not consumed
Moses was amazed that the bush was on fire which is really not that inexplicable. Could have been hit by lightning or set on fire by some other natural cause. What was amazing about this bush was “it was not consumed”. Moses had a history of the desert and knew bushes in arid areas are extremely susceptible to fire. Further bushes like this contained and oil which made them very flammable. Yet this one did not burn, it was not “consumed”. So Moses turned aside. The first lesson of burnout is simple. When God is in the midst of my life, though I may be weary of the work I’m never weary in the work. When my orphan spirit, my fleshly depend on me nature is doing the work, I get burned. Best way I can tell who is working through me is when I hit burnout. Means I was sitting on the throne of control in my life. So I run home to Father’s heart and there I find rest and peace and hope and joy. He takes up residence in me. I quit doing and let Him do it through me. Burnout is God’s way of telling us He is not in the midst of what we’re doing. The solution is to stop and invite Him in, ask Him to Re-Center you in a vertical relationship with Him. To take the time to hear His Voice only. Let Him fill you with His Vision. Your job is not to get the work done, you job is not to be a great this or that, your job is to be a great son. Nothing more nothing less.
B. Any old hedge will do.
The second principle of burnout is realizing that you probably have an over inflated view of your own importance. I spent the better part of my life thinking that I could save the world. Fact is I can’t even save myself. Sometimes we need that dose of humility that simply says, “any old bush will do”. It’s not about me. It’s not about some famous this person or that. Who has the money who doesn’t. Whose kids behave and whose don’t. We are human beings, not human doings and often times we have to remind ourselves in our orphan spirit pride (orphan spirit is one who acts like they are separated from a Father’s Heart and do everything on their own) that all Father really needs is a willing heart not a talented one. The world places a high value on talent and looks and performance. Father loves the heart. He doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. When you answer His Calling in your life, lift your hand to say you’ll volunteer, He isn’t thinking you’re the best in the group. He’s looking for the willing teachable heart. If you’re experiencing burnout maybe there is a gentle rebuke from a loving Father’s heart that you’re thinking too much of yourself.
C. Take your shoes off for He is Holy
Put God first. Learning to combat the effects of burnout is to learn to put God first. Set Him a part in your life as Holy. Moses removed his shoes before God to demonstrate the priority He deserved. Burnout frequently comes from messed up priorities. Good is the enemy of better and better is the enemy of best. One needs to allow God to guide you to the priorities He has chosen for you. There are many good things out there, and they may be the best things for others. But God is a sovereign God and as Father He has the right to choose for His Child what is the best thing to do. Romans 12.1-2 says, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” God has every desire to provide a plan for us that is good (He is looking out for us) and acceptable (we can do it) and perfect (no better options). Knowing that a loving Father has this in mind we should be driven to seek His Face and His Heart on all matters of importance. Putting Him first and repeating again, “It’s not about me”. As soon as we move into that posture, Father fills us with His Spirit anew and we are refreshed, sometimes while even on the run. When we approach burning out with these principles all of a sudden we stop being consumed, we stop thinking of ourselves, and we start thinking of God’s Glory. When I actually realized that burn out was a reflection of my own sinfulness it allowed God to move in and change me.