No one would say the last 5 months have been easy. While many of us may be enjoying or benefitting from a slower pace of life, we all agree COVID has made life very difficult in countless ways.
One way I’ve benefitted from this season is that it has given me some space to process some of my struggles and sin patterns.
Many of you know my family moved from Dallas to Waco in July 2020. We moved from a community and church we loved and have known for 18 years to a relatively unknown (to us) church and community. We’re all starting over relationally, the kids started new schools, and Kristen and I left behind an amazing group of friends.
In the midst of this transition, I’ve come to realize I came really close to burnout. I missed many of the signs but this change of scenery allows me to see where I need to make some changes. In this post I share three reasons why I almost burned myself out. While these are deeply personal to me, the lessons apply to anyone. In addition, I hope this post can spur you on to examine areas of your life where you need to make some changes.
1. I became addicted to comfort.
I am a man of routine. For the last 14 years, I lived in the same house, drove the same car, worked in the same office, and basically had the same job. We were in the same community group with four other couples and I drove the same route to and from work every day for about 3500 work days.
I knew what lane to drive in, where to sit, what time to leave, and how to make life work. Most days I faced some challenges, but I found myself lacking a dependence on the Lord. I was bored at times and lazy at others. Fear of failure gripped me and led me to seek comfort and routine. I made a decent salary, had amazing benefits, and found too much comfort in my stuff.
I’ve come to realize that over the last few years I’ve been stuck in my comfortable routine.
I resigned from my job in March and COVID shut down the United States two days later. I may have panicked for a day or two and thought of begging for Watermark to take me back. But I’m glad I made the change and it’s been stretching for our family. I see it now – I’ve come to realize I became stagnant in my faith. Even though I read the Bible every day, I just went through the motions. I didn’t share my faith and my addiction to comfort left me stuck spiritually.
Question: Where in life are you addicted to comfort? Is it an addiction to stuff/material possessions or to the comfort of a routine?
2. I worshipped my reputation.
I learned this phrase from my great friend Rob Barry. He used it to describe some of his struggles and I knew exactly what he was talking about. I care way too much about what other people think of me.
This led to near burnout because I worked tirelessly, at times, to make myself look good. I said “yes” because I wanted others to think highly of me. I said “yes” to too much at work. And I didn’t want to disappoint the elders of our church, my boss, or my teammates.
In the process I said “no” to sleep, health, family, and friends. I so desperately wanted others to think highly of me that I chose to please man over pleasing God (Galatians 1:10). I also chose to please others outside my family instead of serving and loving my wife and kids.
And at the end of it all, my “yes’s” were ultimately empty as they left me depleted and often still left others disappointed.
I worshipped my reputation and it about wore me down and burned me out.
Question: How do you struggle with worshipping your reputation? Where do you find yourself saying “yes” to the wrong things and for the wrong reasons?
3. I had the wrong scorecard.
I hate admitting this, but I found great pride in walking into a room at Watermark and being the most known person in the room. Often I loved walking in a room and knowing more names than anyone else. I found a strange sense of pride in being known, being liked, and knowing others.
God gave me a gift of knowing and remembering names. It’s been an incredible gift to have in ministry in that it demonstrates care of others. I work hard at it, but it also comes natural to me. But somewhere along the way the gift became more about me than about others or even about the Lord.
I used the wrong scorecard. The win for me was that I knew names and people were impressed by it instead of using my gift for the good of others and the Lord’s glory.
Sometimes the win was performing to impress others. I wanted couples to think highly of me, and at times, I even wanted to win the Lord’s approval. I used the wrong scorecard.
Question: Are you keeping track of the right win? Or are you “winning” at the wrong things?
A few suggestions/recommendations:
Check out the podcast series Fight Hustle, End Hurry by Jefferson Bethke & John Mark Comer. Excellent, honest, and practical.
Here are a few books I highly recommend. Read:
- For Men – Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture, by David Murray
- For Women: Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands, by Shona & David Murray
- For Everyone: The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World, by John Mark Comer
As I begin this new season of ministry at Harris Creek, I find myself grateful for these lessons learned. It’s good to identify them and be able to spot them if/when they show up in the days ahead. There’s too much work to be done and too much juice in the tank to burnout. I pray the same for you right now.
Have you experienced burnout in work or ministry? How can you encourage others with what you’ve learned?