Avoid Burnout and Overextending Yourself

Avoid Burnout and Overextending Yourself

Have you experienced the symptoms of burnout from overextending yourself? In a culture that applauds achievement, you aren’t alone. The more accomplished and successful one becomes, the greater the risk of overextending oneself and entering the devastating realm of burnout.

I’m dancing on such a verge right now. A little commitment here added to another, then another, and you guessed it … overextension. As my head begins to ache and stomach muscles tighten, I stare at the ceiling when I should be sleeping. Yep! It’s time to heed the warning signs and make adjustments.

At the end of August, I felt God invite me to write something I have avoided for months and even years. He also welcomed me to paint a picture a day. He knew the first would be difficult, while the later would be therapy. I agreed to a one month commitment to accomplish the tasks. If I didn’t finish by then, I would feel released from my commitment. (Pathetic, I know! But it honestly reflects the way God and I talk!)

Only October is teaching month when I have umpteen assignments to correct. It is also the month when the layout and design must be completed for FellowScript, InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship quarterly magazine.

And just like that I’m looking for a life raft in the ocean of overextension!

The Greats

Don’t worry if you can relate. We are in the school of learning that some of biblical history greats have passed through. Moses also found himself in a place of serious threat of burnout, at a level I cannot comprehend.

Based on the count of fighting men listed in Numbers 11:21, scholars estimate about 2.2 million people made the Exodus from Egypt. I have trouble leading myself let alone such a massive crowd. Moses assumed the position of judge for every dispute and problem among them.

The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening.
Exodus 18:13

Moses adopted this “normal” pattern of function. It took someone from the outside to see what devastating results this way of operating would lead to. Someone who cared enough and was bold enough to confront him! Though burnout appears to sneak up slowly, it will suddenly stomp us out of commission.

Accountability

Just in time, Moses’ father-in-law Jethro came to visit. He took one look at what Moses was doing and basically said, “You’re crazy! Stop, before it’s too late!”

Oh, that God would send Jethros into each of our lives. Someone who lives outside our crazy swirls of activity, who says, “Whoa! Wait a second! Why are doing this?”

Moses was convinced he was doing God’s work in God’s way. After all, he was God’s man of the hour — the leader! Right?

Sometimes pride can lead us to overextend. We begin to think we are the best, or only, one suited for a task. Perhaps, we just don’t know any other way.

When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, ‘What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?‘”
Exodus 18:14

An accountability partner provides a safe zone to challenge our present conduct and point us to a better future. Jethro did both.

Warning

Jethro saw the warning signs of burnout and overextension. Do you hear the innocence in Moses’ response?

Moses answered him, ‘Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.'” Exodus 18:15-16

Moses spoke to God face-to-face. God instructed Moses. So, who else was equipped to instruct the people?

Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you.'”
Exodus 18:17-19

Wait! There is a better way?

Delegate

When stretched to maximum capacity, the art of delegation allows us to achieve exponentially more together than all of us could accomplish individually.

Jethro wisely instructed Moses to choose a better way — a way avoiding burnout.

Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”
Exodus 18:20-23

Jethro presented Moses with a win-win. It would ensure the responsibility was fulfilled through the help of many. Those who could help more, would be given greater authority. But even those who were only able to maintain a light load could assist.

Lessons

We may glean practical application from Jethro’s advice.

  • Seek out a mentor for a place to be vulnerable and accountable. Give them permission to ask us the tough questions and point out places we might stumble. Live transparently and honestly before them.
  • Seek counsel from others. Counselors help us overcome internal hurdles of pride, selfish ambition, perfectionism, or any of the other vises that often lead to burnout.
  • Delegate authority. Allow other the liberty and the growth opportunity to assume responsibility.
  • Train others and assume a team mentality! Harness the power of synergy — working within teams of like-spirited and like-minded people.
  • Focus on areas only we can do. Acknowledge personal points of excellence where we bring the greatest benefit for the good of all. Then, humbly carry that area of responsibility.

God promises us,

“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.”
Jeremiah 31:25

Hope

No matter what the source, whether we are in the thick of burnout, or heading toward the precipice, Paul writes this sound advice:

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times, pray all the harder...”
Romans 12:11-12 MSG

God won’t put anything too heavy on us. But He draws close as we cry out to Him for help, giving us a new perspective and creative solutions going forward.

As we seek Him, He will keep us fueled and on fire, so that we can live alert and cheerful as we faithfully to the work.

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Causes of Forgetfulness — Remember

Causes of Forgetfulness — Remember

Whether I forget something by my door or hundreds of miles away, every lapse of memory frustrates me. What are the causes of forgetfulness? Actually, I’m more concerned about discovering the cure than the causes.

This week I forgot my Bible. I can easily replace a Bible. But the personal notes I have scribbled in the margins and the special bookmarks my grandchildren made for me can’t be replaced. After reading from the same Bible for a few years, I grow accustomed not only to the written Word of God printed upon the pages, but also to the feel of the worn pages and twisted edges. Sometimes, I underline a verse that Holy Spirit seems to bring to my attention, dating it so that years later I can reference it again.

Before shopping, I meticulously go through the cupboard and make a list of items I need from the grocery store. Unfortunately, I’ve frequently left the list on the counter. Then shopping becomes a test of memory to remember each item.

God

My uncle reminded my husband and me at our wedding to beware of the good and easy times we would face. With wisdom, he cautioned us about the tendency we may have to forget the most valuable things during affluent times. God reminds us of something similar.

“Make sure you don’t forget God, your God, by not keeping his commandments, his rules and regulations that I command you today. Make sure that when you eat and are satisfied, build pleasant houses and settle in, see your herds and flocks flourish and more and more money come in, watch your standard of living going up and up — make sure you don’t become so full of yourself and your things that you forget God, your God.”
Deuteronomy 8:11-16 MSG

Trouble and hard times often drive us to our knees before God and show us our inadequacy and inability. We can never trust our own ability or genius. Our trust always rests in God. I know that leaving a Bible behind isn’t like forgetting God, but it almost feels like it.

The good things God blesses us with are never meant to replace His Presence or lure us from time spent with Him and in His Word. But it might!

He speaks, directs, encourages, instructs, and even reprimands through His Word. We need Him to do all these things and even more so that we won’t forget Him.

God’s Covenant

God never forgets His covenant love for us. Never! Our inattention and busyness with lesser things often cause us to forget, be He always remembers.

“He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.”
Psalm 111:5

Forgetting God’s goodness and His faithfulness comes all too easily when we are surrounded by evil and uncertainty. God remains “other than” this world, totally above and over it all.

One of the causes of forgetfulness toward His love comes from the painful and recurring wounds we face day after day. After awhile we may begin to falsely believe that God has forgotten or abandoned us.

“I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old.”
Psalm 77:11

Remember my grocery list? Even without my list, I often remember everything on it, because I purposely took stock of what I had, and made special note of what was needed. The psalmist affirmed that he would always consider and choose to remember God’s love and goodness. Will we do the same?

Jesus’ Sacrifice

Because Jesus knew the causes of forgetfulness, He left us with an unforgettable reminder of His life and purpose.

” . . . The same night in which he was handed over, he took bread and gave thanks. Then he distributed it to the disciples and said, ‘Take it and eat your fill. It is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.’ He did the same with the cup of wine after supper and said, ‘This cup seals the new covenant with my blood. Drink it — and whenever you drink this, do it to remember me.'”
1 Corinthians 11:23-25 TPT

Whatever we call this remembering — communion, sacraments, or something else — it stands as a reminder of the price He paid to guarantee our freedom and eternal security. A failure to engage in purposeful acts of remembrance may be one of the causes of forgetfulness. Because Jesus wants us to recall the most important concepts of our faith, He leaves us with more than a grocery list of rituals, but a significant act of remembering.

Biblical Instruction

Have you ever listened intently to a wonderful sermon or biblical teaching? And then a few minutes or hours later asked, “What did they say again?” I have! I have quickly forgotten what I was sure I would remember!

At times like this, how grateful I am for the Holy Spirit!

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”
John 14:26 NKJV

And oh, how often He does that for us! God created our minds as incredible retrieval systems. The Holy Spirit comes perfectly equipped to open hidden memory files at the perfect moment and bring back bits of important instruction.

Though the causes of forgetfulness may be many, the Holy Spirit reminds us of important concepts. When I step away from busy activity and take a moment to ask, He consistently answers with exactly what I need.

God also expects us to do our part to absorb the instruction we receive. Taking notes helps me to remember. For others, notes become distracting. Holy Spirit will even assist us to discover the best method of remembering the biblical insights of our spiritual teachers, pastors, and mentors.

Causes of Forgetfulness

I have only scratched the surface of a few important things we try to always remember. Here are some familiar things which contribute to my forgetfulness:

  • Distractions caused by work and possessions. God gives us the ability to work, as well as the blessing of family and possessions. Sometimes our blessings consume our thinking and become distractions, however.
  • Fatigue caused by over-commitment. Some seasons of life, like being a mother of a newborn, allow little opportunity for rest. However, continuous fatigue affects our memory and ability to fully function. Perhaps re-evaluation of time commitments might be necessary to alleviate the problem of forgetfulness.
  • Emotional health also affects our memory capacity. Able Christian counsellors and mentors assist people to begin to recover emotionally from trauma and abuse. I have had to seek help in this area many times. Mental health seriously affects our ability to remember.
  • Poor nutrition also causes forgetfulness. Maintaining a balanced diet and refraining from substance abuse (like drugs, alcohol, and smoking) will also assist our memory to stay sharp and active.
  • Another key area often not talked about is the enemy’s spiritual attack against our minds. He often attempts to cloud our minds with confusion to keep us from remembering God’s goodness and faithfulness.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

I welcome you to take a moment and consider each one of these areas. Do any apply to you? How might you reclaim your memory and ability to remember the things that matter the most? Are there other things that cause forgetfulness for you?

I often place my hand on my head and simply pray, declaring the truth of Scripture, “I have the mind of Christ,” (1 Corinthians 2:16). “My mind is sharp and my thinking clear. The Holy Spirit is with me to recall to my remembrance His Word and His truth. Thank You, Lord!”

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Overcome Spiritual Fatigue: Minister Out of the Overflow

Overcome Spiritual Fatigue

These last few months have been a sometimes-up-sometimes-down battle to overcome spiritual fatigue. It’s a battle I’m winning! Sensing the pressures, first emotionally and then physically, I realized too slowly the true intensity of the battles I was facing.

God desires that we minster out of the overflow of the Spirit, rather than a dry well of exhaustion. Recently, I knew I was due for a personal inventory check. It was time for me to lean into God’s promise through Isaiah.

“He gives strength to the weary and
increases the power of the weak.”
Isaiah 40:29

At times, we all become weary and weak. However, when fatigue lingers, becoming constant and limiting, we are wise to take heed and evaluate the cause.

Fatigue

“As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.”
Psalm 103:13-14

Dust is the humbling, present reality of these bodies we occupy.

Taking Inventory

My first step to overcome spiritual fatigue began with this basic inventory check:

  • healthy diet
  • adequate sleep
  • routine exercise

It sounds far too practical, but these daily consistencies are critical for overall health and vitality. Any lack in these areas seriously affects my ability to function and reach my potential. Unhealthy cravings, irritability or lethargy often trace back to imbalance in one of these three elements.

Lethargy

Jesus set such a wonderful example in caring for His disciples. When they were hungry, He provided food. He often drew them away from the demanding crowds for much needed rest.

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ “
Mark 6:31

A healthy diet goes far beyond food. What am I filling my mind with? Am I pacifying, or medicating, an important need with a cheap substitute?

What about rest? Am I getting adequate sleep and guarding a “Sabbath” rest? (This has honestly been a struggle for me!) Exodus 31:17 tells us that God, who never runs low on energy, “rested and was refreshed” on the Sabbath. How much more important for us? Recreation gives God time to re-create and re-fresh us. Having fun is seriously important for stress packed lives.

Sometimes, to overcome spiritual fatigue, we must begin by taking care of physical and emotional needs.

The Problem

Because much of the work I do involves people in critically disturbing situations, it often drains my energy reserve and leaves me feeling fatigued. Some of what I witness is extremely dehumanizing. Ultimately, behind the scenes of each one of these lives lurks spiritual entities, attempting to “steal, kill and destroy” people whom Jesus loves deeply.

Sleep

Regardless of the situations which are making withdrawals from our inner reserve, God’s promise remains,

” ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest, Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’ ”
Matthew 11:28-30

Just reading these words offers insight and breathing space. Whenever I’m feeling “weary and burdened” and the “yoke” weighs heavy, I know I’m carrying something God willingly offers to relieve me of. Only He possesses the strength and power to carry the weight of human oppression, injustice and indignity.

“Come to me,” Jesus invites.

The Solution

Don’t discard God’s solution as overly practical. “Come!”

Do you know Jesus Christ? Are you living in personal relationship with Him? Great!

“. . . He saved us through the washing of rebirth
and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”
Titus 3:5

The renewal by the Holy Spirit is ours. Not just a onetime, special, salvation offer, but a continual opportunity to come to Him for a redo!

Tired

The solution to overcome spiritual fatigue also appears simple and practical. In coming, we:

  • spend time with Him daily in prayer, Bible reading and meditating on His Word
  • pursue a heart attitude of worship, quietly or expressively
  • adopt praise, being thankful to God in the midst of all situations and struggles

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles: they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:30-31

When you’re feeling more than a little fatigued and stumble, don’t panic. For those who “hope in the Lord,” it is a temporary condition.

Sit at Jesus’ feet, receiving and being filled anew with His Spirit, He will renew your strength. Just like exhaustion came gradually, often restoring takes process as well. Come! Drink deep from His reserve — drink again and again.

Resting

Overcome Spiritual Fatigue

To overcome spiritual fatigue might require one more step — identify unnecessary hindrances.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith . . .”
Hebrews 12:1-2

I’ve been asking God to examine my heart to expose any unresolved issues of unforgiveness, bitterness, critical judgements, selfishness or pride. Yours may be different, but these are often my tangle points. God clearly says the responsibility to “throw off” these weights belongs to us.

After this last step, the flow into our lives through Holy Spirit runs pure and strong. As we identify the problems and develop solutions to overcome spiritual fatigue, the overflow comes clear and constant.

Horse sleeping

How much better and more fulfilling to minister out of the overflow of Holy Spirit, rather than from the stagnant sludge of spiritual fatigue. Through these practical steps, God’s renewing and revitalizing pours through us and from us to others.

I hope my brief progress report on how to overcome spiritual fatigue encourages you. My dad would say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Whether we’re needing prevention or a cure, an ounce or a pound, God is able. Come!