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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Firstfruits – The Most Important When it Comes to Giving

Firstfruits - You Only Get One Chance to Give

You only get one chance to enjoy the blessing of firstfruits, after that it isn’t first fruit any more. That is why firstfruits are the most important when it comes to giving.

An Avid Gardener

Spring is the season of anticipation! The first signs of tulips and blossoms after the cold darkness of winter revives something in me. Anticipation of the taste of fresh veggies and fruit lifts as bedding plants are placed out to harden and soil is worked. Earth under fingernails and between toes is a familiar comfort to every gardener.

One of the pleasures of gardening is sharing with others. Whether the beauty of a well landscaped yard, the abundance of fresh tasting eats, or homemade pies, gardeners labour to share! Giving is part of the joy – the natural overflow of abundance.

Every gardener also knows that though they may plant the seed, weed carefully and water faithfully, he is not the one that produces anything!

Garden Sprouting

A man scatters seed on the ground.
Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up,
the seed sprouts and grows,
though he does not know how.
All by itself the soil produces grain –
first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head.
As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it,
because the harvest has come.”
Mark 4:26 – 29

Thankfulness

Giving God the first part joyfully recognizes He is the Giver of all good things; He is the Supplier of all I possess.

Giving

“And this same God who takes care of me
will supply all your needs from his glorious riches,
which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:19

Though I enjoy the hard work involved, my hard work produces nothing but sweat and fatigue unless God blesses! Giving Him the firstfruits is simply setting my little basket of thankfulness before Him.

Others Reap

When we give, only God knows how many others will benefit. II Kings 4 :42-44 talks of a man bringing his firstfruits. Elisha takes his little loaves and uses them to feed over 100 hungry men, with leftovers to spare! I’m sure the giver had no idea what would come of his simple gift! Little did he know that generations later some other little giver would be encouraged by his act of obedience.

“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish,
but how far will they go among so many?”
John 6:9

Fish

Yes! I know that giving is also a command. The people told Nehemiah,

“We also assume responsibility
for bringing to the house of the LORD each year the firstfruits…”
Nehemiah 10:35

Responsibility is a weighty word.

“It is the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something…of being accountable
the opportunity or ability to act independently…
the thing required to do as part of a job, role..”
(Websters)

Blessing of Firstfruits

But don’t let the weight fool you, the benefits far out-measure anything. God makes it clear that with the giving comes a blessing for your whole household. Who doesn’t want that?

Listen to a snippet from the book of wisdom

Honour the LORD with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.” Proverbs 3: 9-10

Bread & Wine

The barns speak of everyday needs; the vats of new wine refer to spiritual blessing – fresh filling and anointing. In both, there is promise of overflow! It is a picture communion – of bread and wine.

I can’t help but think of the greatest gift of Firstfruit, Jesus Christ, in the implications of bread and wine. I am so thankful for His overflowing gift of life to us all. His disciples were his firstfruits perpetuating faith in other, right down to you and me.

“But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead.
He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.”
I Corinthians 15:20

The cycle of life continues in and through Christ like the passing seasons of my garden. We have many opportunities to share from our little or much.

Here’s another related article

Thankfulness – Painting On a Canvas of Gratitude

When Life Begins is Up to You – Today you Choose!