What does this title do to you?  Do you brush it off?  Do you embrace it?  Does it summarize how you feel about what’s going on in your life right now, or do you think about someone you care about going through a trial?

Whatever your response is, you and I both know someone who has burned out in their life. We all have seen people who had a lot going for them but then almost suddenly could not keep one foot in front of the other.  It’s sad, but it’s all too common.

Truly, the question leads us to think about the solution.  In fact, as I wrote this title, “Could you be burned out?”, I wondered if I should make it “3 steps to avoid burnout”to try to show that I have solutions.  I believe I do have some answers, but I felt that I needed to leave it as a question.  I felt that I needed to pull a little at you.  I felt that if it was simply a self-help looking title, that many of this class would avoid the risk of giving in to such a topic.

Here’s Why.

None of us want to believe that we are burned out.  None of us wants to think that we can’t do life the same anymore.  It’s disheartening.  But it’s all too often true.  Burn out comes, but I want to share with you why I think we have been approaching it wrong.  I want to share with you what I have experienced and how it’s different then much of pop pyschology.

Burn out is spiritual.

Our Soul longs to be what God has envisioned for us. When we don’t live in God’s will, we will burn out or at the very least, live incredibly unwilling lives.  Burning out is not just the way we refer to people that work too hard.  But it has a spiritual foundation.  We lose joy when we burn out, and joy is a spiritual thing.

I first encountered this reality as a pastor.  A pastor friend of mine came to me and said some words that I will never forget.

He said “The joy of the Lord is not your strength, frustration is!” It was true, I was pushing through to try to solve problems, not to try to build my relationship with God and live in His will.

When we act outside of God’s will for us, we will grow tired. Maybe not at first, but eventually, we will lose hope and coast in life wishing it will get better. Until we realize it’s a spiritual thing, we will be stuck.

Burn out is idolized.

I’m not joking.  How often have we met people who when we ask how life is going, they say something like “crazy busy”?  It’s like if we can prove that we are working way harder then we should be, then we somehow are some kind of super hero who is all too valuable to the world.

It’s a Martyr spirit.  We want to look like we are so needed, that we allow ourselves to become burned out as to prove our worth.  We have longed after the thought that the world can’t live without us, so we go too hard.

But the world needs Jesus and a healthy you. When we are healthy, we actually are a good testimony of Jesus, not a burned out one.

Burnout is Avoidable.

Burnout happens when we live out of sync with what we are created to do.

Consider a butterknife.  By looking at it’s design, you can tell it’s not a sword, yet we see kids pretending it is.  You can tell it’s not a flat head screw driver, but you sometimes use it like it is.  You can tell it’s not a pry bar, but how often do we use them for such tasks.  When you use a butterknife like this once and a while, it works, but if you continue to use it outside of it’s design, it will become bent up and rusty.

This is how we live.  God has made you to be used by Him for a specific purpose.  But when you take a great opportunity that you don’t really fit, you start to get worn.  The problem with us Christians is, we justify good opportunities by saying “it’s for others”, as if we are the great martyr and savior for their life.  We must be willing to say no to opportunities, so that the right people will fit the need.  We must not simply try to do all that people think we should.

When you live in others expectations you will burn out. When you live in Gods expectations, you will be full of joy and energized. “.

Joy will protect you from burn out.

So this week, I would ask you to look at your life.  Are you living in God’s design, or others expectations of you.  You know what I mean.  You sometime do things for others even though you know it’s not you.  This doesn’t mean that we don’t have to work hard, but we need to strive to live in our design.

Let me know how it goes.


In Christ,

Dr. Brad