“I feel so burnt out”…”I just don’t know if I can keep going”…. “You better slow down, so you don’t burn out”…
These phrases easily make it into our conversations as busy and tired Christians. Sometimes this is simply the dialogue we have with ourselves. Life, responsibilities, time with family, ministry, events, friendships – these obligations all add up quickly making us feel at our end, and perhaps even “burned out.”
But the question is, is “burning out” an option for the Christian? If you search for the phrase, you certainly won’t find it in Scripture. To varying degrees what I think we mean is, “I don’t want to keep doing what I am doing, and I am ready to quit.” So the second question ought to be: should you keep doing what you are doing? It’s conceivable that there are things on your schedule that should not be there. Burdensome seasons remind us to reevaluate and prioritize our lives. But cautiously cut commitments – the first duties we want to let go of (or complain about) are usually God’s top priorities (i.e. serving in your church, sacrificing for others, domestic responsibilities, etc.). If nothing superfluous can be eliminated, you may just need to keep going.
How then do we keep from reaching the “burned out” point with so many demanding elements of life? The biblical answer is: Through the endless source of God’s strength. 1 Peter 4:11 says, “…whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ…”
Throughout Scripture, God reminds us we are not called to live for him through OUR power, we are to do it all through HIS.
If you can’t go any further, it’s likely because you are trying to go at it alone. Perhaps God has allowed your plate to become piled high in order for it to become evident that you need his help. It’s in those more desperate moments that we are forced to humbly run to God and depend on him. Which is often when God gets the most glory. We realize that God is the real source of power behind anything good that was accomplished because we clearly had nothing else to give.
When we serve through the strength that God supplies (which is what God intended us to do), being burned out is not possible! His strength does not burn out, his energy is not limited, his ability to work through you does not wane.
Will you get tired? Yes. Will you feel spent? Absolutely.
A Real Life Example
The Apostle Paul is an excellent example of someone working hard for the Kingdom and consequently finds himself plenty worn out, spent, and fighting to endure. But he does not lament; he lives this way willingly…
“I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls.” 2 Corinthians 12:15
“Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect…” 2 Timothy 2:10
“Even if I am to be poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.” Philippians 2:17
Paul can have this attitude and not throw in the towel because he had full reliance on the Lord. This dependence is most clearly seen when Paul was asking that his “thorn in the flesh” be removed. Though God’s answer was no, Paul did not go on weak and hopeless. He instead speaks this truth to himself…
…“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
We learn from Paul that when we are feeling weak, we don’t have to stay weak. This is actually when we can be most strong. Life doesn’t need to get easier; we just need to rely on the Lord more. We need to ask for his grace, his strength, his power, to keep doing all that he has called us to do; Even if life remains hard.
A Call to Prayer
When you know that you are doing what you ought to do, but are feeling too tired to keep at it – stop and pray. Ask God to supply that strength he promised. His reserves are endless, and he will help you. Just keep asking. Then ask again. And again. Everything won’t feel suddenly painless, but he will give you just what you need to keep going. It will never be too burdensome.
God sees all your efforts to live for him, and he is not sitting back laughing at your exhaustion. He is ready to help you. He may just be waiting for you to realize you need his help.
Ask him, rely on him, and then dear sister, keep going….