Do you ever get tired of serving and sacrificing? I get that we can’t earn salvation, and that our faith and worth isn’t even defined by how much we give, but don’t you sometimes feel like you’re working so hard compared to others, and it’s not fair? the bible says that the harvest is plentiful, and the workers are few…I feel like those few faithful workers will have a tendency to burn out! thoughts?
You know, I think this is one of those things that everyone is afraid to say: and you said it. We all want to look like willing ready servants that are faithful to jump into the furnace, and I would even say: some of our hard work is actually people-pleasing and comparison and trying to earn salvation. Or, people are just afraid to say no because they don’t want to look lazy. After all, half of our generation lives in the Over-Productive Neurotically Over-Achieving Mega-Success era.
But like you said: Yes, we get tired. Mostly I get weary of serving those who eventually drop out of their race of faith anyway. I’ve poured sweat and tears and prayers into dozens of people who ended up going prodigal, and I always blame myself. I know that I shouldn’t. Other times, everyone expects Christian leaders and pastors to be superhuman, and we don’t find a comfortable rhythm of rest and work. This is especially true in my Asian Culture, when taking a break means you’ve dishonored your family lineage and a vacation means you’ve declared feudal war.
Burning out can also be a case of “wrong seat on the bus.” If you’re doing something you’re not called to do, then of course it’ll feel joyless. I don’t think all serving needs to be glamorous or laughs-a-minute, but I see tons of people who are gritting their teeth at church because they’re not maximizing their gifts in the right setting. Some are too prideful to let go, or they can’t imagine someone else taking over, or they’re just used to it. But you can work magic if you just switch a few spots. I’ve seen friends bloom in the right circumstances.
In the end though, God calls us to work hard. More than overachieving, I mostly see an epidemic of laziness and bare minimum. I see lukewarm living more than legalistic anxiety. I see a tendency for “fuzzy faith” that makes too many excuses for an already spoiled, over-privileged, entitled generation. We like Ephesians 2:8-9, but not verse 10.
If you treat serving like a job where you clock in and clock out, then you’ll get burnt out if you try to go for excellence. These Bible figures like Moses and Daniel and Esther and Ruth and David and Paul didn’t get by with a once-per-week job. The early Christians were being torn limb from limb and lit up like candles, but they never backed off. They threw themselves into God’s calling with total abandon.
We’re called to excel. Excellence is reflecting the aesthetic beauty of God in all we do, and we’re called to strive for that within the fountain of God’s grace. And on this side of life, there will always be less workers than the work. Our worth has to be in the abundant well of God’s love, or else we’ll go crazy trying to squeeze that from our efforts. And it’s also up to each of us to individually know our boundaries, know when to say no, and to find a rhythm to recharge. With that, I’m going to take a nap.