Question: Tired of Serving and Sacrificing

 foreverin asked:

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.

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Jesus Says Take A Break

You need a break.      

I know you hate this idea, and so do I, but you really need to take a break.

Everyone around you is multi-tasking, phone-apping, book-cramming, reading or scheduling or building or flying – and you suspect they’re all more productive than you, so you’re pushing, sweating, clenching, bleeding to get this done. 

But you: you really need a break.

God commands rest.  How could He command rest?  I’d rather read my Bible and fight for the offering plate than REST.

Many of us have bought into the neurotic productivity of American Do-Ism, and it seems like everyone is inventing something, starting a grassroots nonprofit, going to the gym four times a day, cooking immaculate meals, hiking to Europe in their backyard; so no, I won’t take a break, I can’t take a break, I have to keep up or shut up.

But a funny thing happens when you refuse God’s commands. Those commands, by the way, are not demands, but a vision of how you work best. When they’re not followed, the very core of your humanity can break down. You can probably already feel it: the restlessness, the twitchiness, the constant checking of your phone. 

God knows how we’re made.  He knows that if I don’t take a break today, and tomorrow, and for a long time, that I’ll eventually consume more energy than I can create and my spirit will be crushed.  It won’t be any one thing on my schedule or any one exam or any one person: but the accumulated weight will be too much to bear, and I’ll either melt down or check out.

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