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?