When dedicated Christians become over-committed, they often totally exhaust themselves trying to keep up with all their commitments, and fall into burnout.
Burnout is when we become physically exhausted, emotionally drained, and spiritually depleted. Then we’re frustrated at not being able to fulfill all our commitments and can also become angry and depressed.
Like a house gutted by a fire so that only the exterior remains, your inner man can burn out until there’s no more of you left to give. If the devil can push you this far, you can get to the point where you want to quit.
Sometimes, when the going gets very rough in the Christian walk, you may want to quit working for the Lord — quit being an evangelist, a pastor, a teacher, whatever — just hang it all up and quit.
Immediately after the death of Jesus, it appears the disciples were burned out with their Christian walk and wanted to quit. In John 21, we find them returning to their old profession of fishing. They were let down, emotionally depleted, perhaps thinking their dreams were totally crushed. They’d built their lives around Jesus, and now He was gone; the ministry seemingly ended.
Then the resurrected Lord came to them on the beach! At first they didn’t recognize Him. He didn’t come reprimanding them; He came softly, peacefully, acceptingly. When we’re burned out, we don’t need admonitions, we just need to rest in the Lord. It’s when we’re burned out, exhausted and tired of serving God, wanting to throw in the towel, when our prayers are not answered, when we think God is not really there — then God comes to us and takes us off guard.
Many people caught in burnout focus on the problem and not the solution. One of the fastest ways to get out of burnout is to sit quietly and meditate on the glories of God in our life and ministry. Think of how many things He’s brought you through and see how His hand is on you despite temporary setbacks.
Finally Peter recognized Jesus, and was filled again with fresh excitement. When we get a fresh revelation, when God speaks to our hearts, like Peter we know, “It’s the Lord!” He hasn’t left us after all. He told the disciples that day, “Try again,” and the fish flowed abundantly. He says the same thing to us. “Start over. But this time, let Me work through you. My yoke is easy, My load is light” (Matt. 11:30).
If the ministry has become a heavy load to you, if you feel like you’re pulling the entire load by yourself, you are probably working in the flesh. If the Lord is doing the work through you, the yoke of Christian service doesn’t chafe.
“Lord, I pray that you minister to those of us who are burned out and restore us to service and ministry, teaching us how to minister wearing Your yoke and carrying Your load, and no other.”
The Rev. Anne Barber, pastor of My Father’s House Church, 7215 U.S. 301 N. Ellenton. can be reached at 776-9016 or by visiting www.my fathershouseinc.com.