The abbreviation 'TBH' ('to be honest') has recently invaded my daily vernacular, a phrase I picked up from my awesome youth group. It's a habit I'm embracing, because I think I need to be more honest about the things I battle with.
TBH, I've been on the verge of being burnt out from serving God and—unfortunately—I know for certain I'm not the only one.
We've all been there right? Day after day, week after week, Bible study after Bible study: serving God consistently takes effort! Don't get me wrong, serving God is altogether glorious, but sometimes it feels hard and tedious. Can I get an 'Amen'? Being 'burnt out' and being 'poured out' for the Lord are two completely different things.
I look at the busy life of Paul in Scripture and see he was 'poured out for the Lord'. He says, 'Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all.' (Philippians chapter 2, verse 17). For Paul, being poured out for the church in Philippi resulted in gladness and rejoicing. In contrast, the fruits of being burnt out are anger, hardheartedness, bitterness towards God and resentment towards ministry.
Here are a few warning signs for all servants of the Church to be aware of:
We all grow physically tired and weary from serving the Lord, but if you are dreading the ministry God has called you to this is a red flag. If you catch your eyes rolling and feet dragging, watch out.
If you find yourself not caring about the people you are serving, then something is not right. Either you have forgotten the love of God for others, or you are on the brink of burn out.
Being ill prepared
Remember when you first got into ministry? How you were always prepared and sometimes even over prepared and you couldn't wait to show up and serve? When burn out is on its way you'll find yourself rushed, confused, and shorttempered due to lack of preparation.
I've seen burn out manifest itself in the mentality, 'The grass is greener on the other side'. Do not be deceived. God's plans for your life are much better than your own.
If you're on the brink of burn out, trust God to be true to His word when we read God is able to work all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans chapter 8, verse 28).
One of my Bible teachers used to say, 'If God calls you to it, He will see you through it.' It's true, God has led me through many hard seasons of ministry life.
Here are some tools to help be aware of and prevent burn out.
Preach the Gospel to yourself
Christian, remember the grace of God has saved you from everlasting judgment. Allowing yourself to meditate on the love of God will both refresh and compel you to keep on serving the Lord. Focusing on the Gospel will help form ministry burdens into ministry blessings to glorify God.
Keep your devotional time with Jesus
It's easy for us to turn our daily devotions into sermon prep. It's vital to separate your study time from your personal time with Jesus. If you find a great sermon point through your devotions, make a quick note of it and move on. God is more concerned with your sanctification than your service to Him.
Take time to just be still before God. Stop praying, and start listening. Let God remind you of His promises and allow Him to give you direction in all your busyness.
If you're facing burn out today: stop, breathe, and put these remedies into action. Don't be afraid to take vacations from ministry. Just don't take vacations from Jesus. TBH, He is the One you can trust to give you strength and to breathe fresh wind under your wings.
Aaron serves in Murrieta, CA and is a pastor at Cross Culture Ministries and is also the director of On The Edge.
Aaron Sabio's previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/aaronsabio.html