FRIENDS, BROTHERS & SISTERS,
EXCELLENT GREAT MESSAGE!!! ARE YOU WEARY, TIRED, FRUSTRATED, CONFUSED, PRESSURED, UNDECIDED, DIVIDED, TORN APART, CONTENTIOUS, IRRITATED, ETC,?, YOU DON'T KNOW? PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO READ BELOW MESSAGE, IT CAN GIVE YOU PERSPECTIVE, I CHANGE EVERYTHING YOU ARE THINKING AND GOING THROUGH.
AVOIDING PERSONAL BURNOUT
1 Kings 19:1-16
We're going to look at what God has to say about avoiding burnout. We hear a lot today about burnout. Emotional burnout, relational burnout -- but it's not a new issue. In fact, there are many examples in the Bible, one of them being in 1 Kings 19. It's about Elijah. Remember the story in 1 Kings 18 where he had this great miracle from God. They had a God contest on Mt. Carmel. God sent fire down and the whole nation turned back to God. They killed all the false prophets. It was a once in a life time miracle. There was a big emotional high there.
Scene two, the next chapter (1 Kings 19) the Queen Jezebel, the wicked queen, gets very mad. So she puts a death threat out on Elijah and sends a messenger to him telling him she was planning on killing him. Just a few days after this enormous miracle where the whole nation turns back to God, Elijah runs for his life across the desert, hides in a cave. He's in fear saying, "God, please kill me!"
What's going on? This is a classic example of burnout. After every mountaintop there is a valley. After every high there is a low. With success comes stress.
The good news is that the Bible tells us Elijah was just like us. He was a human being, he wasn't supernatural. God used him in some miraculous ways but he was just a normal human being. So we can look at his life and we can see the causes or the signs of burnout and the cure for burnout.
You may not need this message today. If you don't, congratulations. But you may someday. I will guarantee you that there is probably somebody you know that's going through emotional burnout right now. This is one of those messages you hold on to so when you go through the dark days, you pull out the outline and read what God said to do.
THE SIGNS OF BURNOUT
What are the signs of burnout? We see them in Elijah's life. When you see them in your life you know you're headed in the wrong direction.
1. We depreciate our worth.
We put ourselves down mentally. There's a little tape going on in your mind that says over and over, "I'm a nobody. My life doesn't matter. I'm insignificant. I don't count. I have no value." It plays over and over in your mind. When you start doing that, you know you're headed for burnout.
1 Kings 19:4, "Elijah came to a broom tree, sat down under it, and prayed, `Take my life. I'm no better than my ancestors.'" Circle "I'm no better." He's comparing himself to his ancestors and saying, "I'm no better than those guys!"
That tells us one of the first causes of burnout -- comparing. When you start comparing yourself to somebody else, you're setting yourself up for emotional burnout. What you tend to do is compare your life with the accomplishments of other people: "I'm not doing enough." You compare your problems and your trials with the relatively easy lifestyle you think somebody else is having. They're just hiding their problems. You compare your talents and your gifts and think how meager they are compared to the super star quality of the person next door, the other guy or woman in the office.
But the worst thing you do is when you start comparing your expectations with the way life has really turned out. When you start looking at the way life turned out with the way you expected it to be, you're setting yourself up for burnout. God says don't do it. Don't depreciate your worth.
Once you start comparing the second things you start doing is criticizing yourself. You are your own worst critic. Your worst critic lives between your ears. You tell yourself, "I must... I should ... I have to ... I ought to ... I've got to ... " Then when it doesn't happen, you move to phase three, to feeling guilty about all the work you haven't gotten done. Do you ever have so much to do on your To Do list that there's no way possible you're going to get it all done? But then when you don't get it all done, you feel guilty because you don't get it all done. You're setting yourself up for burnout.
2. We underrate our work.
1 Kings 19:19 "I have worked very hard for the Lord God of the heavens but the people of Israel have broken their covenant with You and have torn down Your altars." Elijah was a man of God, a teacher of the truth. Yet he blamed himself for things that weren't his fault. He was to tell the people what God wanted them to do but they weren't listening and the nation was falling apart morally because they had some bad leaders. They had brought in all kinds of paganism. He's teaching and preaching and they weren't changing and he blames himself.
I know this feeling. I know there have been times I've got up to speak and I know God had told me to say a certain thing and I've studied and prayed about it to share something I knew could be life changing, but I knew that 80-90% of the people who would hear it weren't going to do anything about it. I learned a long time ago that I'm not responsible for your response. I'm responsible to simply teach the truth. Once you walk out of here that's your business. In fact, I don't want to know what you do during the week. It might really depress me. I'm not responsible for your response.
This is the second major cause of burnout -- trying to control everything. Comparing is number one. Trying to control everything is number two. I call it the Atlas Syndrome where you're acting as if the whole world rests on your shoulders. I have to make sure everything's going to turn out all right. I have to hold everything together. I have to work everything out. If it is to be, it's up to me. I have to make it all work out. You're setting yourself up for burnout. When you try to be general manager of the universe. This is a burden God never intended for you to carry.
We've talked about this many times. There are a lot of things in your life that are out of your control. You never will be able to control them. We've even talked about this principle that you're not responsible for other people's responses. A couple of weeks ago when Kay and I did that message on parenting I said, you're responsible, as a parent, to your family, but you're not responsible for every choice your family members make. You can't be responsible. As a parent I'm responsible to raise my kid to teach him the right thing, but when they start making their own decisions, that's their decision and it's not mine and I'm not going to feel responsible for it. Parents burn out because they have unrealistic expectations and unrealistic guilt. They think, "I should be doing better and if my kids turn out wrong, it's all my fault." Not necessarily. We underrate our work.
3. We exaggerate out problems when we're heading for a burnout.
We overemphasize what's wrong in our lives and we ignore God's blessing in our lives. We always focus on the negative rather than the positive. We see the cup as half empty not as half full. If you are always focusing on the negative in your life, if that's all you ever look at, if you're always putting yourself down (you've got that tape going on), and you're always seeing everything negative, you're setting yourself up for burnout.
This is what happened with Elijah. v. 10b "I'm the only one left and they're trying to kill me." Can you hear the pity party he's having here? "God, I'm the only person in the whole world who lives for You and loves You and they're trying to kill me, too."
Just a few days earlier they'd had this great miracle where Elijah prayed, the fire came from heaven. It was a big miracle. The whole nation saw it and the whole nation came to God in one day. That kind of thing will wear you out emotionally. Positive things or negative things will wear you out emotionally.
Now he is so drained emotionally, spiritually, physically, he can't even focus on reality. He can't get the picture right. Have you ever been that tired? Have you ever been so worn out that you can't think straight? You can't see what really is happening and you think the whole world is caving in on you -- the Chicken Little complex. "The sky is falling!" No, you're just in a bad mood! When you are drained, fatigued, you don't seem to see reality as it really is.
This is what Elijah's doing. "I'm the only one, God, that's trying to do the right thing." He's just forgotten that a few days earlier the whole nation has turned back to God. In fact, God tells him a little later in the chapter, "All along, Elijah, there were 7000 true believers, even when the nation went the wrong way these people never bowed down to an idol." He wasn't the only one. There were 7000 other ones even before the big revival.
Then he says on top of that, "... they are trying to kill me." It sounds like the whole world is after him. It wasn't the whole world -- just one woman. I realize, men, that sometimes one woman seems like the whole world! Jezebel was after him. On top of that, she wasn't really intending to kill him. If you're intending to kill a person, you don't send a messenger to tell him you're going to kill him, you send a hit man. I don't know from personal experience, but I figure that's what you do. If you're going to kill somebody you just go kill them.
So he's over exaggerating his problem.
This is the third cause of burnout: emotional reasoning. Emotional reasoning is when you listen to your feelings rather than the facts. You focus on how you feel rather than on what's reality, what's the truth. Emotion reasoning goes like this: "I feel it, therefore it must be true." Have you learned yet that emotions lie? Feelings lie. Just because you feel something doesn't mean it's the truth. Ask any professional athlete or performer or musician, he can tell you they feel very discouraged after a great performance. They are so drained emotionally, the adrenalin, the fatigue they're thinking, "I didn't do too good" but that's not reality. In fact, they probably did a pretty good job. They may have done a great job. But in that state you start listening to your feelings. You have to learn as a mature person to ignore your feelings sometimes. Feelings can be wrong. Feelings are highly unreliable.
A couple of weeks into my marriage to Kay and we were still newlyweds, I looked at her and I said, "I don't feel married." She said, "It doesn't matter if you feel it or not. You're married!" There's no backing out. You can't just go out and do whatever you please just because you don't feel married.
The truth is some of you came to church today saying, "I don't feel God's very close to me. I don't feel close to God, I don't feel God's close to me." You're wrong. God is just as close to you as on those spiritual highs you felt in the past. God doesn't move. The Bible says, if you're a Christian, Christ is in your heart, He's inside of you, He lives within you, He puts His Spirit inside of you. He never leaves you. The only thing that changes is your feelings. We sing a song and you feel close to God. Then on Monday morning, you wonder, "Where's God?" He's the same place He was when you sang that song. He's with you. He hasn't backed off. He hasn't moved.
You can't listen to your feelings.
I know that we live in a society that emphasizes feelings, almost above everything else. Psychologists tell us, "You need to get in touch with your feelings." That's true. You do. Any area that you're not in touch with your feelings in is an area you can't grow in. Any area where you don't understand your feelings or you're hiding your feelings, is an area of denial and non growth; it's out of control in your life. You do need to get in touch with your feelings.
But that's not enough. There's something more important than getting in touch with your feelings. It's getting in touch with the truth. It's the truth that changes you, not your feelings. It's the truth that gives you a solid, successful, significant life, not feelings. Jesus did not say, "When you know your feelings, your feelings will set you free." He said, "When you know the truth, the truth will set you free." The truth will set you free. It's the key to liberation in your life from any hang up, hurt, or habits. The truth will set you free. But first, it will probably make you miserable.
Why? Because we don't really like to face the truth. We don't like to face the truth about ourselves so we hide. We don't like to face the truth about our relationships so we hurl, throw bombs at each other. We don't like to face the truth about life, about death, about reality, about the future, about the past. So we make up all kinds of stories. The truth sets us free but it does make us miserable before we get to freedom because we don't like to deal with it.
The most damaging consequence of burnout is the fourth one.
4. We abdicate our dreams.
You lose your vision. When you start to burn out, you forfeit your future. You forget your goals. You basically want to give up. You're so emotionally, physically, spiritually drained you just want to give up. What happens is you stop caring?
Notice what Elijah said, "He prayed that he might die. `I've had enough, Lord,' he said." You stop caring.
This happens in relationships all the time. If you're in a relationship where you constantly have conflict, pretty soon you start draining dry of love and energy. I can't tell you how many times over the years in ministry, people come to me and say, "I just don't love my wife/husband any more." I want to say, "So what? You can fall in and out of love a hundred times in a marriage." There's some days you love your spouse and some days you want to strangle your spouse. That's why it takes more than love to make a marriage work. Love is not all you need. It takes more than love. It takes commitment. It takes character. It takes integrity. It takes maturity. It takes unselfishness to make a marriage work. You can't build a marriage on love. Love is an important ingredient, but that's not all you need. You need character. You need maturity. And you need commitment. Those are the things you do have control over. You can't always control your feelings. But you can control your commitment. And the commitments are what take you through those times you don't have any feelings. If I said, "I'm only going to speak to you when I feel like it, I wouldn't be here today!" But I had a commitment.
So we abdicate our dreams.
Elijah said he prayed that he might die, "I've had enough! It's just not worth it. I'm ready to throw in the towel. I want to die."
I don't know if it hit you like it hit me, but when they announced that Phil Hartman had been murdered. Those kinds of things really hit me hard. His wife killed him and then, in anguish, killed herself. A couple who had everything going for them in terms of success and money, but they didn't have what really mattered. Evidently the pain got so intense in her life that she killed her husband then took her own life. That's the ultimate case of burnout when you say, "I'm checking out!"
Some of you may be at that point today. You may be saying, "I'm ready to check out. I'm ready to check out of my marriage. I'm ready to check out of my career." Some of you may be thinking, "I'm ready to check out of life." What do you do when you hit that point in burnout? What do you do when it doesn't look like there are any answers, any place to turn, and you say, "I don't think I can handle one more day of pain!" What do you do?
You do the four things God told Elijah to do. If you will do these things, there is hope. God told Elijah to do four things to get over his burnout.
1. Rest your body.
This deals with the physical side of burnout. This is God's first step. His prescription. 1 Kings 19 (New International Version) Elijah had just said, "Lord, take my life. I'm no better than my ancestors. I've had enough." Then, "He laid down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once the angel touched him and said, `Get up and eat.' He looked around and there by his head was a cake of bread over hot coals and a jar of water. He ate and he drank and he laid down again to go to sleep. Then the angel came back a second time and touched him and said, `Get up and eat again.'" I like this. This is God's first step in getting over burnout. He said sleep and eat, sleep and eat. He's saying, You've got to take care of these physical issues here. Notice it does not say, "When you're depressed go shopping."
The reason some of you are so stressed out is that all you're eating is tofu and bird seed. You're way too thin!
I love this about God. When Elijah burned out, God didn't give him a lecture. God didn't scold him. God didn't say, "Get a life, Elijah! Remember what happened two days ago? The greatest victory of your whole life? Buck up! Get it together. Whip yourself into shape. Pick yourself up by your own bootstraps. Get rid of that mood!" He didn't preach at him. He didn't yell at him. His first antidote was sleep and eat.
God understands your body better than you do. Psalm 127:2 (Living Bible) "God wants his loved ones to get their proper rest." Sometimes in life the most spiritual thing you can do is go to sleep. Vince Lombardi, the famous coach of the Packers once said, "Fatigue makes cowards of all of us." It's true. When you're tired you just can't handle a whole lot. When you're worn out, beat, you can't handle stresses and pressures that normally wouldn't bother you. Sometimes, one good night's rest changes your perspective overnight. Never make a major decision when you're depressed. It will almost always be wrong. Never make a major decision when you're tired. It will almost always be wrong. Wait until you've got that good night's sleep, gotten yourself recharged a little bit.
That's a given, a no-brainer. Rest your body.
2. Release your frustrations.
This deals with the emotional side of burnout. Revealing your feeling is the beginning of healing. You're not going to get well, you're not going to get feeling good again, until you learn to express those feelings in your heart that you've been holding in. Any area of your life that you can't talk about is out of control. If you can't talk about it, you can't manage it. So the second step in burnout is to face your frustrations and talk to God about it. Don't complain to other people, talk to God. Just say, "God, this is the way I feel." Express your feelings, lay them all out.
1 Kings 19:9-10 "Then he went into a cave and spent the night. God said, `What are you doing here, Elijah?' and he replied, `I've been very zealous for the Lord, but...'" Circle "but". What he says is, "God, I've been living for You. I've been trying to do the right thing. I've been a good person, following Your plan for my life ... but..." Then he unloads in the next verses. God knew that Elijah in his burnout was a basketful of emotions. So He said, "Elijah, spill your guts! Blow off some steam. Tell Me what you're really thinking. Tell Me what you're really feeling. What's bugging you? Get it off your chest."
And in the next few verses of chapter 19, Elijah does. He says, "There are six things that bug me, God. In the first place, I'm afraid. I'm bitter. I'm angry. On top of that I'm lonely. On top of that I'm worried. And on top of it all, I'm depressed." No wonder he was burning out! You get those six emotions churning up inside and not sharing them with anybody obviously you're going to burn out. Whenever you swallow your emotions, your stomach keeps score. If you don't talk it out, you're going to take it out on yourself in some way. You say, "That person is a pain in the..." and the reason they are is because you're not talking to God about it. So God says, "Ventilate".
God wasn't shocked with Elijah's griping. He wasn't shocked with the way he felt. When he said, "God, I'm angry and I'm bitter and I'm depressed and I'm lonely." God wasn't surprised. God didn't say, "You shouldn't feel that way." He listened. God knows your feelings better than you do. He wired you up. He just wants you to understand them and by talking them out it helps you get in touch with what you're feeling and thinking. God just says, "I'll listen as long as you want to, until you run out of words."
Have you ever wondered why some of the Psalms got into the Holy Bible? Some of them are pretty vindictive. In some of them, David is really spouting off, blowing off steam. "God, I hate my enemies! I can't stand them. I want to see them all dead. I want to see their whole families slaughtered. I want to kick their teeth in!" How did that get into the Holy Bible?
God allowed those Psalms in because David was blowing off steam, but he was doing it with the right person. God put them in the Bible so you could know it's ok. There is no emotion that you could express to God that is going to make Him stop loving you or make Him mad. You can come to him as a child and say, "God, sometimes I doubt that You even exist. God, I am worried.... God, I'm lonely.... God, I'm sexually frustrated..." Who do you think made sex? Who do you think gave you your glands? You can talk to God about anything and everything and He's not going to be blown away by it.
He says if you want to get well, first you rest your body and then you release your frustrations, your emotions.
So are you feeling down today? a little stressed out, uptight, overloaded? Do what the Bible says to do.
"Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you." He's talking about Jesus. He says tell God how you feel. Pour out your heart to Jesus. Dump the load on Him. God never meant for you to carry that load.
Having talked with people for many years, I've discovered it's often helpful to tell a friend too. Tell somebody in a small group. Tell a counselor. Not only tell God but ventilate with somebody else. That's why I keep harping on you needing to be in a small group for your own health. God didn't mean for you to go through life just on your own. That's why we emphasize small groups so much around here. When I'm on the patio, people come to talk to me, they say, "I've never told this to anybody else," and they'll start sharing a pain or hurt that they have. One of my first questions is almost always, "Are you part of a small group? Have you joined a group anywhere?" God never meant for you to go through life on your own. You need the support of other people who have a perspective different from you, because when you're down, you don't see things straight. You need to get good advice from other people who are trying to do the right thing following Christ.
3. Refocus on God.
Get your eyes off your problem and start looking at Jesus. Get a fresh awareness of God's power and presence in your life. This is the third key to Elijah's overcoming his burnout. 1 Kings 19:11 "Go out and stand before Me on the mountain,' the Lord told him." God said, "Elijah, I want you to get alone with Me for awhile. There's something I want you to see." In the next few verses, God puts on this massive, spectacular, incredible, pyrotechnic, multi media event for Elijah. "Go out and stand on the mountain in My presence and watch this. A powerful wind, pouring through the mountain, tore the mountain apart, shattered the rocks before the Lord. The Lord was not in the hurricane wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake. But the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire -- some kind of firestorm. And after the fire came a gentle whisper, a still small voice. After Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face, and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, `What are you doing here, Elijah?'"
Why did God do this? First He gives this spectacular hurricane wind. Then he gives an earthquake. Then he gives a firestorm. Then He speaks in a still, small voice. What was God doing? He was reminding Elijah of His power. "I am in control," God says. "I am sovereign. You think things are bad but My power is far greater than any problem you will face. I am in control." He was saying focus on Me, not your problem. He was reminding Elijah of His power.
Why? Because the root of all burnout is playing God. When you start playing God, when you start acting as if God doesn't matter, like you have to make it all work, that you're in charge, you're in control, you're the manager of your life. You are setting yourself up for burnout. God never meant for you to be the manager of your life. He wants to manage your life. He made you. God made you. You were made by Him and for Him. Until you understand that life isn't going to make sense.
He's saying, "Let Me be God and quit trying to be God yourself." That's why you're so tired. You weren't wired to be God. You're human and you're not a super human and you're certainly not God.
Frank Sinatra died. He's famous for his song, "I Did It My Way". That sounds pretty proud to me. Sinatra's last words were, "I'm losing it." Why? Because even Frank didn't have the power over life and death. He was not God and he couldn't control the timing of his own death.
God says "I want you to focus on Me. I've got the power." When I get stressed out, I get alone with God. When I feel I'm on the edge of a burnout, I get alone with God. I focus on God's power, not my problems. And I focus on God's grace, not my failures. And I focus on God's unconditional love for me, not my critics. That's the secret.
This is the secret of endurance. "Reverence for God gives a man deep strength."
I want you to hear the story of a woman who went through burnout and came out stronger for God.
I'd like to share how Jesus Christ helped me recover from the pain of personal burnout several years ago. My first experience at Saddleback church was a service where Debbie Boone sang. I was a weary, burned out Christian who was rather disillusioned with life. I remember carrying my aching heart into hear Debbie and letting my soul cry for a while during Rick's sermon. As I left, I told the Lord I needed to know that He cared about me but I didn't know how the God of the universe who died for me could come down and give me a much needed hug. The answer lay in a cheery hello I heard as I stumbled away from the service at Saddleback. I turned and saw Pastor Rick holding his youngest son and realized he had said hello to me. It may sound corny but I felt like that hello was God's answer to my prayer. It was a small sign that God cared about my burnout.
Let me explain some of the events that led up to my burnout. In 1970, I was a college student at Ohio state. Life on campus at that time was filled with a lot of unrest. That spring was a time of campus violence. Although we did not experience it as they did at Kent state, we did have campus riots that brought out state police.
That year I decided to live for Jesus wholeheartedly. I got involved with Christian ministry. It was then I moved to a Christian conference ground 60 miles from campus and started my full time ministry cooking breakfast and lunch for as many as 35 people. It was truly by faith because I had really never cooked before. But I was sold on Christian service and ready to do whatever the Lord had told me to do. This is where my husband Ed came in. He was looking for a clerk and we decided I was it. So he imported me from Ohio to California.
As I was waiting on the Lord for His direction for Christian service, four children came along. Jason, then my twins, Amy and Keith, and then Christopher all born within four years. Only God knows what you can bear. Each was a joy to me but I wanted to serve the Lord in other ways besides parenting. I kept wondering when Ed would get the divine message from God and go on to full time service. This is what I expected to happen. Instead Ed went to work as much as he could so I could stay home with the kids.
Searching for that open door of ministry, I found a church that had an open door for my talents and became a volunteer minister. I figured if I couldn't serve full time then I'd serve part time. Over the next two year my schedule was filled with Bible study, choir and vacation Bible School while I was caring for my wee ones. Those were fun years, full of hugs. And even more opportunities opened, like a children's musical. I had danced in my background so I volunteered to do choreography. I just kept wondering when Ed was going to get the big message about full time ministry. Does this sound like we had a communication gap? It was a warning of things to come.
I just kept volunteering for one thing after another without thinking. I went full speed ahead with the Lord. Finally, I led a small group and got involved as a leader of junior high. But with the strain of business, my life started falling apart. I juggled as much as I could possibly handle and loved it, but it was an unrealistic life style and a deep weary disillusionment.
I began to show all the signs of burnout that Pastor Rick talked about. I noticed the feeling of resentment growing in my life. I had given 110% to the church and felt very let down by them and not valued for my contribution. Also I was worried about our financial difficulties. I was serving God whole heartedly but we still weren't making it financially. All I could see was my failure to provide what I thought the Lord wanted for my children especially in their schooling. I could not help but compare myself and Ed with other couples. They had more, could do more, and I couldn't help but partly blame my husband. It was hard not to look at Ed and ask what was wrong with him spiritually because after all, he was the head of the household. I was angry and hurt and afraid to let anyone know. But I felt that Christians couldn't possibly feel this way and be true believers. I held it all inside. I set myself up for the big burnout.
Nothing made sense anymore. There was nothing more to give and I was all used up. All those feelings of rejection I felt as a child came back to haunt me at this time. Everything became overwhelming. I was filled with self doubt. How could I be a mom with teenagers? How could I make a difference with Ed and get our differences resolved? I felt worthless and afraid to let anyone know how I felt. It was really bad with no hope, or so I thought. I had a classic case of burnout.
Then our family moved to Saddleback church. It was just what we needed. When we first began attending, it was time to be quiet and let God work on us. Our marriage needed work and ministry was not the place to be. Even my attempt at ministry reminded me that I was in no shape to be involved like I had been for three years. I was too tired to minister. My marriage was strained and my children were turning into teenagers. For some time I set quietly as a church member just soaking up God's healing grace. These years were full of marital ups and downs, holding onto commitments when that was all there was to hold on to. The only thing that kept me from running away was my commitment to Jesus and His word and a vague remembrance of the love I once had for Ed.
I thank God that in my burnout I didn't walk out. It took many lonely walks, arguments, counseling appointments and communication work for me to finally express what was going on inside of me without fear of rejection. I came to realize that being a Christian does not exempt you from having disappointments, times of failure and angry moments. That's only part of being human. As soon as I could possibly allow myself to be human I could feel myself breathe again. Not that I was holding my breath, but I had put my soul on hold. My Lord was teaching me to rest in Him, to learn from Him and what He loved about me.
Those quiet years gave the Lord a lot of time to speak. It was during this time that He helped me to find how He truly gifted me in the area of encouragement. This would definitely help the body of Christ and yet keep my time commitment in balance. Out of my discouraged heart came encouragement for others to see their value as God has seen it. The most important key in my recovery from burnout has been the time I've spent getting to know the Lord from His word. In my quiet times, I was able to read through the Bible three times. This was very healing for me.
Reading the Bible filled my heart with hope. The Sunday sermons gave me application of God's word. The more time I spent focusing on God's word, the more I began to feel a strength I did have before. Knowing God's love and His word restored my heart for service.
Now I am back serving in ministry and I am much more careful to nurture my friendship with Jesus. My kids are grown and now they're starting to leave the nest. Ed and I have found our love has returned, stronger and deeper than ever. We read the Bible everyday and pray for our kids. We're looking forward to what the Lord has for us in His time and in His way.
If you've struggled with burnout, let me encourage you not to give up. I have found that there is hope and healing and help when you commit your entire soul to Jesus Christ.
Rest your body, Release your emotions, Refocus on God. One more step and unless you do this one you're never going to get back the wholeness, never going to get back to health, never going to get back to be what God meant for you to be.
4. Resume serving others.
Stop thinking about yourself -- introspection -- all the time. Start thinking about others who are less fortunate than you.
I know when you're in pain all you can see is yourself. If you look around you'll find somebody who is in more pain than you are. I know that's hard to believe. But no matter what you're going through, you can always find somebody less fortunate. One of the ways of getting out of burnout is to start giving your life away again in helping somebody else. The more you give your life away, the more God blesses you.
Why? Because God never meant for you to come out of burnout so you could be a selfish little clod. He didn't put you on this earth just to live for yourself. The way you come out of burnout is again, by start giving away, not by being this dead cesspool where you take but you begin to focus on the outside and begin to help others.
1 Kings 19, God gave Elijah a new assignment. He said, "Go back the way you came to the desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael and Jehu and Elisha." He said, you're going to do ministry with buddies now because you were never meant to do it all alone. You serve in the context of the community of other believers.
God gives Elijah a new assignment to help him get out of his funk that he's in. He wanted Elijah to realize that God wasn't through with him. Elijah thought it was over. He said, "It's over. I'm ready to die. Take my life." God said, "No, I've got a lot more to do. I'm not through with you."
God brought some of you here to Saddleback so He could say to you, "In spite of the depression, in spite of the problems, in spite of the hurt, in spite of the burnout I'm not through with you." He's got a lot more to do. This is not the end. If you'll take these steps, you'll move on.
The quickest way to defeat depression is to get your eyes off yourself and start focusing on helping others. Jesus said, "In giving your life away, you find it." Elijah needed to get his eyes off himself.
Today you may be burned out and you may be depressed. You're never going to get well by introspection alone. You've got to get outside of yourself. You have to find a ministry, find a place to serve. Use your talents. Stop just focusing on yourself and start focusing on helping others and that will bring the joy back. Joy comes from service. Satisfaction comes from service. Significance comes from service. Self esteem comes from service.
I'm sure there are people here today who feel like Elijah did. There are many days you just want to pull up the covers saying, "I don't even want to get out of bed today. I want to go to sleep and not wake up." You feel like your pile is so high over your head, you're never going to get to the top of it. You may feel emotionally or physically exhausted. Bare bones tired. In a crowd this size I have no doubt that you've considered this last week about checking out, even taking your own life. I want to say to you, There is hope. Don't give up. God cares, Jesus cares, I care. This church cares. There are people sitting around you that care and who will help you.
This is God's recovery plan. But you have to work on all four dimensions -- physical, spiritual, emotional, relational.
First, get the physical act together. Maybe you need to rearrange your schedule. Get more rest. You're been trying to burn the candle at both ends.
Then you do the emotional. You unplug and talk about what you're feeling and you tell God what you really feel. Maybe you tell it to a friend or counselor or someone in your small group.
Then you refocus the center of your life around Jesus Christ because He is God and you are not. The more you try to play God the more frustrated you're going to get.
Then you get involved in helping somebody else. Get your eyes off yourself.
This works. It's in the Bible. It works. I know this from personal experience because seventeen years ago I went through burnout. At the end of the first year of this church I just collapsed. You have no idea the energy it takes to get a church off the ground in it's first year. Enormous amount of work. I was working 18-20 hours a day. I was a workaholic, loving every minute of it. But by the end of the year, I was frazzled emotionally, spiritually, physically -- I was drained. Through all of 1981, I was depressed. That was my burned out year. God slowly brought me back. All during '81 my goal was not, "God, build a great church!" My goal was "God, get me through the week end." I'm so glad I didn't gave up when I thought it was all over in '81. I'm more than glad that God didn't give up on me. Because God wasn't through with me.
But He's not through with you either.
You can make it with God's help. "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." Pray this prayer in your heart. "Dear Jesus, You know how tired I am. You know how frazzled my emotions are. You know how often I feel like I can't make it. I need Your help. I need You to restore my soul. Today, I am surrendering the control of every area of my life to You. I'm going to follow Your direction even when it doesn't make sense, because You're God and I'm not. Help me to take action on these four steps this next week. Help me to get the rest I need. Help me to spend time with You every day, reading Your word and talking to You about my feelings and frustrations. Help me to say focused and centered on You. Help me to get into a small group where I can receive support. Help me to give my life away in serving others. In Your name I pray. Amen."