Can You Counteract Burnout?
Service is a key component of our Christian walk.
“Whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave.” (Matthew 20:26–27)
By serving others, we have the opportunity to actively walk out the love that Jesus has for them. We walk the same road as our Savior, who humbled Himself and served sinful humanity. Our good deeds can be seen by men so that they glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
However, a common problem can sometimes replay itself in our churches. We can find the same small group of people volunteering to make things happen for the masses. Over time, this can result in burnout.
Although serving others is a biblical command, feelings of burnout can creep into our everyday outlook if we’re straining to make things happen in our own strength. When we’re not connected to the Vine, we cannot be the best representatives of Christ. Tasks that used to produce joy can begin to feel like chores. We can quickly go from praising the Lord and rejoicing over new opportunities to instead grumbling about the inconvenience that those opportunities bring us.
When we’re encumbered by what we’re doing, instead of what God is doing through us, we can begin to grow tired of our tasks. Soon, we can start counting (and despising) how much extra energy, time, effort, and resources we’re giving to our obligations. We can even start to become prideful or resentful about how well or poor we’re performing as we painstakingly labor toward achievement.
These feelings are not unusual or uncommon. Many believers have felt the challenge of joyfully serving with the right perspective, in which they gratefully draw from an overflowing fellowship with the Holy Spirit (Colossians 1:29).
Joyful service is a principle of the kingdom (Matthew 23:11). Because Jesus desires to reward us for how we steward what He has placed in our care (Matthew 25:21), we do not want to try and avoid these opportunities—we want to excel at them in the right way. Assessing our answers to the following questions can help us avoid burnout while serving.
1. Are our efforts drawn from ourselves?
2. Is our faithfulness coming from grace or our sense of duty?
3. Are we staying in fellowship with the Lord throughout our day-to-day activities?
4. Are we honoring natural laws that God made to benefit our bodies?
When we feel like our service is based on our own efforts and strength, and that we can sustain faithfulness from our own willpower, we can quickly feel like we’re losing momentum. And when we’re getting less sleep or exercise, or not eating properly, we can find ourselves in the same situation as Elijah (1 Kings 19:14–18), who needed divine correction.
Time spent fellowshipping with the Lord corrects our perspective, increases our gratitude, and helps us serve. We may not be able to sustain an uninterrupted conversation with the Lord, but we can practice turning our attention to Him throughout the day. In doing so, we will be strengthened to fully and joyfully participate in what He has called us to do in our spheres of influence.
Even incorporating short prayers throughout our day makes a difference. Mike Bickle’s TRUST prayer can be a good way to start incorporating short, but effective, prayers throughout a busy day. Through prayer, we connect with the greater One within us (1 Corinthians 6:19), who gives us the ability to love and serve others from the place of grace, as Jesus did.