Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28 – 30
“I am just burned out.” We have all heard this – or said this – and we all know what it means. overworked, under-appreciated, just utterly spent. I am planning to spend several weeks talking about this idea of burnout.… What it is and what it isn’t. More than definitions though, we need answers because the feelings are real.
Physical and emotional burnout is possible in today’s world. Zig Ziglar – a world-famous speaker and encourager – told a story that I will never forget. He and his wife made plans to clean out the garage on Saturday. That particular week he had been gone a lot with speaking engagements. He came home Friday evening feeling incredibly exhausted. After a nice dinner with his wife they went to bed and when he awakened in the morning the last thing he wanted to do was to start on that garage, but he got dressed to begin this task, mumbling the entire time that he was so tired. It wasn’t long until the phone rang. It was one of his friends telling him that he had a group of men ready to go golfing and that they just needed one more person to fill the group. His buddy invited him to join them and ask how quickly he could be at the golf course. With newfound strength and vigor, Zig answered that he was surely up for a round of golf and that he could be at the course in 45 minutes. What does that little story tell you? He was burned out until there was something he wanted to do. If you consider this story for just a moment I believe you will relate…. likely His story reminds you of one of your own.
Did you notice how quickly the burn out was gone? Don’t miss the side benefit though; we do need to schedule time for relaxation and renewal. For Mr. Ziglar, it was a morning on the golf course. And what might it be for you? Everybody needs renewal. Don’t feel guilty about it – you need it from time to time.
Let’s not miss the point though that Mr. Ziglar was truly not burned out. He might have been tired from work, but burnout means exhaustion, no energy and often a feeling of being under-appreciated. That he could go to the golf course on a moment’s notice showed that he still had energy and that he still had friends. He was not burnt out.
The next thought is important: Often when we hear people say they are burnt out, what they are not saying is that they are discouraged and disheartened. It is much easier to tell someone that you don’t want to do something because you are just burned out, than it is to say you don’t want to do something because you are discouraged and feeling disheartened. I have done this without thinking because everyone can relate to being tired. The subject usually ends with, “Well get some rest. We will do this another time.” Telling someone that you are discouraged is like opening a can of worms. Instinctively we don’t want to do that.
There are times though, that we may not know for sure that what we are feeling is burnout. Feeling downcast and physically tired gives you similar feelings. If we look a little deeper, we can find that we are truly discouraged. A good night’s rest is a first step in handling burnout, and a good night’s rest can give you a fresh perspective when you are discouraged. Sleep won’t solve the problem; taken to extremes, it can be part of the problem.
Imagine the years when our country was being settled. America began as a Christian nation and no one questioned that. Requirements needed to live were were great and days were long. Something that I also notice as I’ve read is how important church, pastors, the Bible and God were. God was an integral part in the daily lives of most every pioneer. Contrast their lives to ours today.
Cell phones, dishwashers, refrigerators, yard service, groceries and meals being delivered to our homes, pool service, someone who comes into clean every couple of weeks or once a month, a reliable vehicle, air conditioning, water pouring out of the faucets with the flip of the switch or a wave of the hand, and little round vacuum cleaners to pick up all the crumbs and dust and even mop while you are sleeping. You know what I’m getting at. Many of the things I have listed are no longer considered luxuries. They are tools designed to help us get through our busy days. To be sure, I am thankful that I don’t have to go down the road to make phone call, to bring an ice in order to keep food from spoiling and I am always thankful that I have a vehicle that I’m not worried about stopping on the highway. I am exceedingly thankful for the ease required to go to church. I can step into a hot shower without having to heat that water first. How much time and energy does that save? I don’t have to hitch the horses; I grab my keys and get in my car, taking note the car travels much more quickly than the horses did.
In order to move forward in our lives sometimes we need to consider our lives honestly. I don’t want to sound like a mother telling her children that I walked 3 miles to school everyday with cardboard in my shoes. Most of us have a good number of the necessities and luxuries that I listed above. I count them all as God’s blessings to my life. No. I really do. Taking for granted the things that make our lives easier or more pleasurable without giving thanks is a mistake. One of the wisest character traits we can develop is being thankful. Purposing to be thankful for what we have is an acknowledgment to God for his kindness to us.
I plan to share thoughts regularly about making our lives better and happier today, while planting seeds for tomorrow. God intended for us to be joyful, but without effort I think it is not possible. One of the surest ways to fight discouragement is to keep a thankful attitude. It is easy to forget blessings that God has given to our lives. When you greet a friend, you tell them how good it is to see them! Do we greet God with equal enthusiasm? How often do we go to God – who has given us all things – and begin our conversation with wants or complaints? In a crisis, this is entirely appropriate. We are “Friends,” after all. Our practice should be to approach Him with at least as much joy as we greet our friends with holiness added, for He is holy. His holiness is reason enough.
Consider the ways that you suffer burnout. Do you lack rest or do you lack hope? Both? We can need both. It is important to get to the root cause of your burnout. It is difficult to get better without proper diagnosis. Next time you, or a friend says that they are burnt out, pause a moment to think about the real source.
We are entering into the season of Thanksgiving. As I write this, it is Thanksgiving week in India. Don’t let Thanksgiving or Thanksgiving season be swallowed by Christmas. Christmas is the ultimate reason to be thankful. To many, it is the most stressful time of the year instead of one of the most thankful. I believe we can stop that in its tracks.
The verses that I began with are thoughtful and beautiful. I encourage you to take some time and meditate upon them before you get caught up in the end of this year. We can end 2019 well. Jesus invites us to Himself. He has offered to share our burdens. His yoke is light. In this picture is no room for burnout, but the choice is ours and will require decisions and effort. Jesus encourages us to learn more about him and tells us why. As our Friend, He tells us that He is meek and lowly in heart. We can tell Him anything because He is not prideful and He will not criticize us. And telling it to Jesus we will find rest for our souls.
I mentioned in the past that after my husband died I found myself doing something that was not like me at all. I walk through the house talking to the Lord about the things that I saw and what they meant to me because of the time I spent with Harry. As if miraculous, my burdens were lighter. It was miraculous! I did not walk through the house alone for I was yoked with my Savior and I told him how much I hurt but at the end it was better. This kind of practice takes time and often we don’t want to commit ourselves to that kind of fellowship with the Lord. Just in saying that, I realize how foolish that is when the end result is spectacular. Unless you try this, your belief will be intellectual, because you know everything in the Bible is true, but Faith will move you to change.
As I consider these verses, the part that really grabbed me was Jesus’ profession of being meek and lowly. Our Creator sits on the right hand of God the Father in Heaven, but offers Himself to us as our humble Friend.
The next time we meet I want to spend some time talking about the reasons we don’t want to spend time doing the things that would help us the most. If your emotions are dictated by what is happening around you, please step away. We have more control than we realize. That is why we need reminders.
Thank you for communicating with me last week. Your words encouraged me much as I try to be more faithful to God’s leading, especially when I lack confidence. But don’t we all sometimes? But that is another subject for another time. I leave you today with this quote:
The remedy for discouragement is the Word of God. When you feed your heart and mind with its truth, you regain your perspective and find renewed strength. Warren Wiersbe