Staying Fresh Against the Weariness of Life
Recently a friend expressed feeling the early stages of being burned out. I can feel his pain, can’t you? I feel like I am always pushing a large boulder up a hill. Budging the boulder forward a few inches consumes enormous effort, but then it easily rolls back a few feet. Why is that?
You believe God called you to your task. You strain and strive with every mental muscle and bodily sinew to answer the call and be faithful. It’s working, but not smoothly. It’s coming, but not quickly. You can’t help but wonder, “Did I misunderstand God’s call? Was it really God speaking to me?” Or, like Solomon, we cry out, “Meaningless, meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” That’s not true just because he said it, of course, but it is hard to stay positive when we have to manage our lives against the Fall. After a while it just wears you down.
How can we stay fresh against the weariness of life?
Establish Work Boundaries: Arrange your work life so you can complete your tasks in 50 hours. You don’t have to work 70 hours to be successful.
Shed Responsibilities: A lot of work stress comes from not being able to get everything done. You should not regularly feel overwhelmed. If you do, prioritize your work and shed some responsibilities.
Two Hours a Day: No one can constantly give out and serve others and remain unaffected—not even (the human) Jesus. I am of the opinion that we each need about two hours a day “just to ourselves.” These are renewing times when we read, watch TV, sit out back, do our devotions, replay our day with our spouse or a friend, go to the gym—anything that you know helps you regain emotional and spiritual energy and balance.
Special Rest: It’s good to have something to look forward to other than work. What is something you have really wanted to do or at least give a try—a special trip, a hobby, a new skill, a new sport? Put that in motion.
Faith: If you are feeling a little (or a lot) burned out, you have probably not been walking with Christ as closely as you were. Withdrawal is normal, but not healthy. You need to fix this. Either you already know what to do, or a spouse or friend can help you think it through. Sometimes we have to substitute discipline for a lack of natural interest.
Life can be wearisome, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. God wants to renew us, but we have to cooperate by using common sense.
For the glory of Christ and no other reason,
Pat Morley, Ph.D.