Burned out? or Fired Up?
By Ken Miller
IGRC Lay Leader
You see him coming. You can tell he is troubled, burdened, despondent. His body language speaks volumes. His shoulders are dramatically slumped as if he were carrying the weight of the world on his back. He walks as if his shoes are filled with lead, trudging along one heavy footstep after another.
He comes to the door of your office, pauses for a brief moment, and then plods on in and slumps tiredly into the chair across from your desk. You walk around the desk, and sit next to him.
“Are you all right?” you ask.
“No,” he says dejectedly. “I am worn out, world weary to the depth of my bones, stressed to the max.”
“Do you want to talk about it?” you ask.
He says, “I’m just so tired of my daily grind. I love my wife, I love my children, my jobs OK, but the excitement is gone. I feel like I’m running up a hill and I can’t get to the top. Everything in my life has grown so stale and monotonous.”
“It was not always like this,” he added. “I used to celebrate life, but now all I do is cope. “That man spoke out loud and clear about the world weariness that many people feel these days.”
Sound familiar? Do you know someone like that? This sense of boredom, futility, melancholy, and tiredness that settles on the human spirit is a tragic characteristic of life to our hectic, frenzied, stressful modern world. The sad truth is that while we have done so well and have been so creative in so many dimensions of life, we have all too often missed the main thing. Life does not have to be boring or monotonous or tiresome. I don’t think that God intended life to be that way. I think that God meant life to be celebrated, zestful, meaningful, and joyful. God wants us to be fired up on life not burned out.
The truth is that this world-weariness that plagues us is a symptom of a much deeper problem called emptiness. It’s the emptiness that comes from loving and craving the wrong things, temporary, material things that will never satisfy. We scrape and scramble to get them, only to discover that they don’t fill the vacuum. Then we feel let down, bored, empty and bone weary.
Brothers and sisters, it doesn’t have to be that way. God doesn’t want it to be that way for us. Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly.
So, let’s look at the question: Are you fired up or burned out?
These two phrases fired up and burned out are popular expressions that we hear more and more these days. We walk into a gym or stadium and hear the fans cheering, “let’s get fired up.” Or we hear someone speaking for a cause imploring their followers to get fired up.
To be fired up is to be excited, optimistic, hopeful, confident, courageous, energetic. To be fired up is to be glad to be alive and enthusiastic about living. To be fired up is to say an emphatic yes to life and its possibilities and opportunities.
Now let’s look at the phrase burned out. To be burned out is to be tired, exhausted, worn down, disillusioned, disappointed and depleted. To be burned out is to be discouraged and pessimistic and ready to throw in the towel. To be burned out is to be filled with dread and drudgery and emptiness.
In the words of the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, “it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else you have to run twice as fast.”
Burnout can happen to anyone, and it does. It’s fatigue and frustration brought on by devotion to a cause, a job, a way of life or a relationship that failed to produce the expected reward. A person tries and tries and tries, and then feels let down, depleted, and exhausted. Where once there was a feeling of being fired up, now there is the tired aching sense of being burned out.
We live in a world that has lost most of its morals and standards. Our society is falling apart. Criminals dominate our neighborhoods. Sometimes we are just having church rather than being church and that may not be enough.
Think about Moses and his 40 years of wandering and Elijah and his dealings with Jezebel and I’m sure you can think of more but in all those cases they heard the still small voice of God, saw a glimmer of hope and picked up the torch and continued on.
There seems to be three things that will help us avoid burnout.
First, recognize you fatigue limit. Think of a rubber band. You can stretch it and stretch it, but if you stretch it too much it sags. It loses its resiliency. It can’t bounce back anymore. That’s its fatigue limit. When it doesn’t have the strength to bounce back to its original form, it has passed its limit. Push it further and it breaks.
We need to be aware of what our fatigue limits are and live within them. If you view every task as a chore filled with drudgery. If you have lost your sense of humor. If you have lost excitement in your work, you may be approaching your fatigue limit.
Second, remember your priorities. Much of our nervous tension that leads to burn out comes from mixed up priorities. Decide what matters and what does not. Ignore the insignificant and concentrate on the vital. I read a statistic the other day that only 8 percent of what we worry about is legitimate. The other 92 percent either never will happened, doesn’t matter or are things we cannot control.
Third, relax your soul to God. Nothing takes the fear out of life like the feeling that God is near. When we shut, Gods spirit out of our lives, we might burn out.
So how do we stay positive?
- We must continue to pray.
- We must continue to grow and learn
- We must continue to obey God.
- We must be determined to stay the course no matter what.
The pessimist wakes up in the morning, opens his eyes and says, “Good Lord it’s morning.” The optimist wakes up in the morning, opens his eyes and says, “Good Morning, Lord.”
When we break the huddle, and go on offense we need to let the world know who Jesus is. People need to know where we stand. Our world needs to hear the truth about God from Christians who know the truth.
Bishop, for 47 years I have fired up athletes to go out and do a job. Let’s see if it works with United Methodists. Everybody please stand up. As United Methodists, we have a mission! Right? That mission is to go into the world and make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. It’s up to you as to whether that mission is successful or not. We can do this job but we have to believe that we can. We need to go outside the walls of our churches and do what we are equip to do. No excuses, just results.
When we are done, we need to be able to look in the mirror and say to the person standing there looking back at us that we gave it our best effort because the mirror does not lie.
Anything else is unacceptable. If you don’t like what you see, then it’s time to change. We don’t have time for burnout because Satan does not quit. Are you doing all you can to bring people to Christ or are you just going through the motions. Maybe it’s time to take a second look at ourselves. So, are you ready to go and make disciples?
Give the person next to you a high five and let’s get the job done.