I was blessed to begin my year second year at KSSM with a time of retreat alongside some of the other pastors from the Churches of Christ in Victoria and Tasmania. One of the retreat speakers taught us about burnout and how God works with the willing to restore those who have been left in ashes and sawdust by life. There are four keys to this.
In Acts 3:6 we learn that as a minister you can only give what you have got. This passage can be read that Peter gave the man what he really needed, rather than what the man had asked for, (and there is that too), but for today let’s look at what Peter said about what he did have to share. “I don’t have that,” said Peter, “but I do have this and so here’s the best of what I have”.
In Isaiah 40:28-31 we learn to rely on God for strength. God has more than enough strength for us, we can never exhaust God through relying on The LORD’s strength for our journey. When ministry has drained you, return to the source.
In Mark 12:30 we learn to return love to God with everything in our heart soul, mind, and strength. In burnout it might seem counter-productive to be giving everything out, but in worship we are emptied of ourselves so that we can be filled by God.
In John 15:2 we learn that God is a wise gardener who prunes what is dead and useless. In the same way we need to stop giving energy to things that are dead: we need to commit to activities and relationships which are life-giving and affirming of the gospel. Sometimes the stuff we have to do to get well again is more about stopping doing stuff.
Within a priesthood of all believers everyone can take these words about ministry to heart: even if you are not ministering in the same way that the elders and deacons do this is wisdom for every disciple of Christ in his or her daily life. So as November brings the beginning and preparation for the harvest, and the holidays, and the holy days, let’s all remember to draw close to God for refreshing and renewal before we burn ourselves to the ground. (And then maybe we won’t burn ourselves to the ground.)