Thursday, December 29, 2011

Resolve Not To Burnout in 2012

Singer Neil Young once said....uh, make that sang:

'It's better to burnout than to fade away'

Sorry, Neil, but I must respectively disagree with you on that one. There's nothing good or better about it.

Burnout is no fun. I speak from personal experience.

Some years back, I found myself on the hamster wheel of life. Running.  Running.  And running even faster.  Always running.

If there was a job to be done, a need to be filled or someone to be served, be it at work, at my children's schools or at church (ESPECIALLY at church) -- honey, I was there and on it.  "Sign me up!" became my motto and war cry. I hated to turn anyone down or away. So I wouldn't. 

I can remember (with much chagrin) many, MANY a Sunday when I'd feel like a human speed boat, flying from one thing to another: set up, serving and cleaning up at our Worship Cafe, then off to serve as an usher one week, or a volunteer cashier and salesperson at our church's former book and gift shop the next week, or to play a part in a church skit.  I'd wave to people in the hallways of our church as I sprinted, a la' OJ Simpson in those old Hertz Rent-A-Car commercials, from one task to the other. Sometimes, I didn't even have time to sit in worship or listen to a sermon.  I rarely had a intimate, serious conversation with anyone in those days.  I mean, who had the time to sit and chat and LISTEN when there was just so much to do for the Lord???  Work and school were much the same.  It seemed like no one wanted to sign up for anything that needed to be done, so there I was -- Super Woman/Mom to the rescue!!!  After some time, not only did I become seriously exhausted, but I found myself becoming angry, bitter, resentful and, even though I was surrounded by people, very lonely.  There was no time for deep, meaningful relationships with anyone -- but most especially with Jesus.  I did lots of things in His Name, but my time and relationship with Him suffered greatly.

God waved LOTS of red flags in my face, but I ignored them all.  He whispered in my ear to slow down and to search my heart for the true motive behind all of my extreme busyness.  But I would swat Him away like some pesky gnat, although I did know, way deep down in my heart that I was trying to fill a void, trying to take away the emptiness I was feeling in my marriage to a man who did not share in my faith, and in other areas of my life.  I just didn't want to admit that.

So finally, God stopped all the flag waving and the whispering and although I'm sure it hurt Him to do so, He had to take me down in a big way.  One day in April, almost 4 years ago, I woke up in the ER with absolutely no memory of how I got there, missing several weeks of memory which, to this day, I've never recovered, and having received a vision from the Lord.  It's a long story which many of my friends already know, and a blog post to write for another day.

Maybe someone reading this today is on that very same hamster wheel.  Maybe you're seeing those red flags waving before your eyes, and hearing God's whispers in your ears, but you're pretending you don't see them or hear Him. Maybe you're feeling exhausted, rundown as you head for the Land of Burnout...but you can't/won't stop running and doing. Maybe you've found yourself stuck in what Christian writer and speaker, Beth Moore refers to as 'the captivity of activity.' 

As someone's who's been there, done that and bought the hideous, ill-fitting T-shirt, I'm here to implore you:  PLEASE STOP.  PLEASE LISTEN.  PLEASE BE STILL.  And place yourself at the best and only place to be: at the feet of Jesus.

Yesterday, I came across a fantastic post about preventing burnout from fellow blogger, Dale Roach. His blog is called 'Like A Team,' and can be found here:

Below is Dale's post.  And I'm so grateful to him for allowing me to share this here with you, dear readers. As we head into a brand new year, I pray that someone here will read his words and will seriously propose to apply his wise advice to their life.  Because really -- it's NOT better to burnout than to fade away.  It's better to live life this way, remembering what Jesus said in John 10:10: The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). ~ Amplified Bible 
Burnout: 10 Ways To Prevent It ~ by Dale Roach

Burnout and physical, mental exhaustion have been around for some time. If not addressed burnout can lead to depression and extreme fatigue. Esther Schubert wrote about this problem when addressing the problems that missionaries deal with (What Missionaries Need to Know About Burnout and Depression, Olive Branch Publications; New Castle, Indiana, 1993).
Burnout and some cases of depression can be prevented. Here are ten ways that Schubert suggests for burnout prevention:
  1. Learning to “off load” emotionally. This requires being in touch with ones own feelings, keeping short accounts (not allowing grudges and frustrations to build up in personal relationships) and dealing with issues as they occur.
  2. Learning to say “no” is OK when you are asked to do more than is reasonable.
  3. Being alert to desperate feelings and understanding the emotional implications of those feelings. It may help to consider a “worst-case” scenario to defuse the subliminal unconscious fears. This will help any person face the “what if” and to acknowledge the adequacy of God’s grace.
  4. Eating a regular and balanced diet is certainly a great resource for good health and burnout prevention.
  5. Making time for meaningful relationships and fellowship is necessary.
  6. Keeping the capacity for laughter alive. Remember “A merry hear doeth good like a medicine!”
  7. Exercise. Good exercise releases body chemical called endorphins that lift the mood and help in preventing depression.
  8. Devotional Life. A strong prayer life provides us with encouragement. It creates a sense of God’s presence in our good times as well as our bad and challenging times.
  9. Sleep Patterns. We must never forget that God is far more interested in us than He is in our work habits. We are not God’s pets; we are his “beloved.” If we wear ourselves out we will miss a wonderful opportunity of fellowship with the Lord. Self-destruction was not in His creative design.
  10. Honor the Sabbath. All of creation is geared to one day of rest per week. Never forget that the Creator of the Universe took a day off himself.
These ten points can help prevent burnout from taking place. The first step however, is to acknowledge what is important to you. If you can understand that burnout and exhaustion were not part of God’s plan for your life this will be the first step to avoiding it.
Dale Roach

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