As I have been traveling and speaking; talking to different pastors, and leaders of various churches, I have been hearing some people talking about, and experiencing what they term “burn-out.”
Have you experienced this? It usually begins subtly; a growing dissatisfaction with the Christian service that you have been doing in and through the church. Passion for people begins to ebb and wane.
You may even begin to experience a slow, somewhat unnoticeable, hardening of the heart. It shows up when you find your eyes dry, during an experience that used to bring tears. You begin to notice a lack of compassion, your temper seems to quicken.
Your concern for the lost people of the world begins to weaken, passion for their salvation slips, and quite frankly, if they get Jesus, fine, if they don’t. . .Oh Well!
Love for God seems to cool as well, and love for others, is simply getting downright cold!
What I am talking about is, commonly called “burn-out.”
Some sobering statistics from Focus on the Family regarding pastors:
- Fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout, or contention in their churches.
- Fifty percent of pastors’ marriages end in divorce.
- Fifty percent of pastors are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.
- Eighty percent of seminary and Bible school graduates who enter the ministry will leave the ministry within the first five years.
- Seventy percent of pastors constantly fight depression.
If this is reflective of professional men and women who are in full time ministry, it certainly reflects those in laity as well! Those of you, who have families, jobs, and busy schedules, can easily fall into this “burn-out” category.
But what about Jesus? Did He experience this? Jesus certainly grew tired, even weary, but He did not experience “burn-out.”
There is a great difference between burning up and burning out!
If you light a lamp, and watch it burn, it will begin to “burn-out” when it gets low on oil. In order for it to continue to burn, there must be a replenishing of the oil, otherwise the lamp will “burn-out” and grow cold.
So it is with us; if we are not replenished, if we separate ourselves from spiritual renewal, and fellowship with the Holy Spirit, then our lamp will grow dim, and we will become dissatisfied with our service to God. It will become a duty, not a blessing, a chore, rather than an act of love.
We need to become more like Jesus, and less like the world we live in. The world is full of self-serving ideals, which in the end, come up short.
We often compare ministry results against the backdrop of the contemporary world in which we live, and we grow dissatisfied. We want results, and we want them now! We want fruit, and we want it now!
When we realize that our Christian service may take months, perhaps years, before we see the results, we get frustrated, and instead of trusting, and waiting upon God, we take matters into our own hands. Sometimes we will over extend ourselves to the point of exhaustion!
If we begin to operate in our own strength, and in our own wisdom, our “oil” begins to run low, and will eventually run out! The problem began when we took matters into our own hands. This “turning” from God happens so subtly, that it is almost unnoticeable!
It is time for the church, and those who have come to Christ, to return to Him, to learn from Him, and to become like Him. He found renewal in being with His Father. He took time to get away, and pray; we need to do the same!
If we spend time with God, the true God, then we will walk in a state of continual renewal, we will not have to go on special retreats hoping to “connect” with God, and be renewed. It will become a part of our life; we will “often” go away to lonely places and get rest, physical and spiritual rest.
Then, like Jesus, when the crowds come, and encroach upon your “retreat” your eyes will well up with compassion, you will feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and heal the sick, and it will not be a burden but a joy!
You will begin to burn up, not burn out. Passion will rise up! You will be a flame!
Listen to the words of John Wesley; when asked how he drew the crowds:
“I set myself on fire and the people come to watch me burn” (John Wesley)
And revival preacher and author Leonard Ravenhill says;
“You don’t have to advertise a fire.” (Leonard Ravenhill)
We need to get back to the basics of Christianity. Ours is a mission of faith, trust, and reliance on the Holy Spirit of God, and not on fancy programs, slick slogans, or our own wisdom and strength! When we operate on our wisdom, we reap what the Scriptures say we will reap:
There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.
Jesus told us straight out. . .
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
The true source of “burn-out” is a lack of fellowship with our God. Take time, MAKE time, to sit with the Father, talk to Him, and let Him refresh you, replenish you, and send you!
I for one, refuse to burn out, I will however, do all I can to keep oil in my lamp, so that I will burn up, not out!