By Ginger Hill
Has Your Service to Others Left You Feeling Seared? Question Your Beliefs Before You Burn Out!
Whether you are a Christ-centered servant in ministry or in the marketplace, when it comes to the idea of managing stress and burnout, we often envision a cup in our mind. The balance between what flows into and out of the cup plays a part in determining our physical, mental and spiritual health and thus the effectiveness and enjoyment of the work that we do.
In the world of wellness, we focus a great deal of attention on encouraging people to fill the cup – to consistently make small daily investments in their health and wellbeing. As a wellness coach, I heartily endorse and encourage the filling of the cup! But I have also come to understand that managing the outpour from the cup is equally important. And in my personal experience and experience working with clients, I’ve found that managing that outpour is far more difficult. This is because it requires that we ask ourselves some tough questions about why we tend to resist making the difficult decisions needed to moderate the outpour to bring our lives back into a more reasonable balance.
What are some of the hindrances that make it difficult for us to take the actions necessary to intentionally moderate what flows out of our cup?
As much as we want to blame outside circumstances, many times the resistance to regain balance is located in our heart. Consider the following questions related to beliefs or mindsets which may be in play when the resistance to regain balance appears:
Question: Am I exhausted because I fear not meeting someone’s expectation of me and accepting the
potential damage to my reputation that goes with that?
Truth: Wise pacing of the outpour requires remembering that it is possible to serve someone, yet not satisfy them because, above all else, we are serving Christ.
Consider Galatians 1:10: Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Question: Am I exhausted because, while carrying a heavy load, I am unwilling to share some territory or
support the potential success of someone else?
Truth: Wise pacing of the outpour requires remembering that fulfilling our uniquely appointed assignment is not dependent on us maintaining boundary lines or protecting our position or popularity.
Consider 1 Corinthians 3:5-9: What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.
Questions: Am I exhausted because I am acting as if I am indispensable and invincible? Have I blinded myself to the gifts of others and the grace of God such that I can only see my contribution and have forgotten my true dependence on God and others for success?
Truth: Wise pacing of the outpour requires remembering that we are just one part of the body of Christ with Christ at the head. We are only human, and Christ can accomplish His work through our collective humanness by directing us to compliment, cooperate, cover or compensate for each other.
Consider 1 Corinthians 12:18-22: But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.
Question: Am I exhausted because I am racing toward my desired outcome as the highest goal, being more concerned about reaching the destination than taking the time to learn from the process and make progress?
Truth: Wise pacing of the outpour requires remembering that achieving our desired and God-given outcome often takes more time and a more difficult path than we had ever imagined. But what we learn along the way has value that extends beyond our current outcome goal.
Consider Exodus 13:17: When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”
Feeling burned out today?
It might be time to do some wise pacing of the outpour from our cup. If that sounds impossible, rather than blaming our outside circumstances, it may be time to question some of our beliefs that may lead to burnout.
About the author: Ginger Hill is a founder of Good Health for Good Works. She combines her professional wellness expertise with biblical principles and spiritual resources to help the engaged, but sometimes exhausted, employees/volunteers of Christian organizations take small, smart and strategic steps toward healthier living to help make their service more energetic, effective and enjoyable. Services include faith-based wellness seminars, individual/group wellness coaching and fun faith-based wellness activities.