Summary: This sermon addresses burnout in the ministry and how the Christian should maintain a balance of work, worship and rest.
If you brought your Bible with you I would like to invite you to turn with me to Matthew 6:25-34, where Jesus gives us a very helpful perspective on life.
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, `What shall we eat?’ or `What shall we drink?’ or `What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
This weekend I’ve decided to talk about something that I’ve learned the hard way.... How to burn on without burning out.
I just took a couple weeks off, at least from teaching. One of the reasons I did that, is I used to look at ministry as a sprint. (I wanted to get there fast.) I now look at it as a marathon. (I’d like to get there in one piece).
Because God has been speaking to me about: How to burn on without burning out. Burnout is depletion, tiredness, exhaustion, being worn out, fatigued, frustrated, spent.
On the way up to Mt. Rainier there is a place that they call "Poop Out Point." It’s most of the way up, it’s the place beyond which many don’t make it. I read how on one particular hike, 150 hikers started up Mt. Rainier. Only 7 made it past Poop Out Point. Only 5 made it to the top. On some rare days from the top you can see Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood and Mt. Shasta from the top of Mt. Rainier.
Many followers of God do not make it to the breathtaking vistas that God has in store for them, because they poop out along the way. Hikers call it "bonking", or "hitting the wall". Bonking happens when you’ve exhausted your energy and you can’t go on. Hitting the wall is when you lack the oxygen necessary to replenish your muscles to keep going, and all of sudden you find it difficult to make it.
Some of us are at Poop Out Point. You can only borrow from tomorrow’s energy for so long before we have to pay it back.
Jeremy Rifkin is a futurist who wrote Time Wars. He cites 4 reasons many of us are spent:
1) an expanded work week (we now work 81% of our waking hours)
- leisure time is down 37% since 1973
2) technology has complicated our lives rather than simplified them
Mariah Carey just checked herself into a psychiatric ward for a nervous breakdown. The day before she checked herself in, she had 300 messages on her pager.
3) women in the workforce
Not that a woman’s presence makes things more stressful in the workplace, but because women are now in the workplace, our lives are more stressful at home.
4) baby boom (born between 46 and 64)
1/3 of population...simultaneously in their peak work and child-rearing years...sandwiched between caring for kids and parents
[Kristyn and I have a 12 and an 11 year old daughter. We had lunch with an out of town guest from the Bay Area and he said, "Yeah, it’s the American experience."
2000 years ago, Jesus asked 2 questions that still resonate today,
Matthew 6:25: "Isn’t life more important?"
Matthew 6:26: "Aren’t you more valuable?"
They’re rhetorical questions. The answers, of course, are yes and yes.
What Jesus was teaching us was 3 things...
1. View burnout as a serious threat to your spiritual well being
I’ve included in your program a Burnout Checklist, developed by Dr. Archibald Hart.
1 = No or little degree of change
2 = Just noticeable degree of change
3 = Noticeable degree of change
4 = Fair degree of change