God never asked us to burn out in His name.
There is a difference between diligently and faithfully serving the Lord and burning out, and that difference is found in our motive, which often indicates what we truly believe about God's heart for us.
I stumbled upon this article the other day that speaks to some of the top reason marriages fail so quickly today. Number five on the list indicates that one or both individuals in the relationship get so caught up in the busyness of life they fail to connect on any level consistently. It’s interesting because usually everything they are doing is for the sake of the kids or the family or careers…seemingly good things, really. But when making time to connect isn’t a priority, the relationship drowns under the pressures of what they’ve labeled “good” and ultimately often fails, which is far from good.
In Mark 1, Jesus sets a really beautiful example for us of what it looks like to prioritize connection with the Father without sacrificing doing what He's called us to do. He has just started His public ministry, and was healing nearly an entire city of people.
That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. - Mark 1:32-22
Early the following morning, He slipped away before the sunrise to be alone with the Father; to pray, rest in and commune with the Lord.
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” - Mark 1:35-37
Did Jesus still have things He could be doing? Peter’s statement when he finally finds Him certainly indicates He did. Did He succumb to the pressure of staying busy at the cost of finding rest with the Father? No, He went anyway. (I write more about this specific passage here).
Jesus was undeniably faithful to the calling the Lord placed on His life. He was faithful in ministry and perfectly obedient. Notice how this didn’t mean He had to burn out, or be enslaved to the idea that His relationship to the Father was intrinsically tied to how busy He was doing the work of ministry.
Some pretty damaging lies can come out of getting caught up in a cycle of burn out. A friend text me last night and within her [very timely, encouraging text] she said, “The Lord ended up having to remind me that my worth is in Him alone, not in service.” That hit me right between the eyes. Sometimes without realizing it we trade in the joy and rest that comes from simply being with the Father for the pressure of serving to earn worth. Quite frankly, I think if those of us who often find ourselves in this cycle of burn out were to be honest, we’d find that our busyness can quickly become more about filling voids within ourself than it is about bringing glory to His name.
To circle back to something I said early on in this post… there is a difference between diligently and faithfully serving the Lord and burning out, and that difference is found in our motive, which often indicates what we truly believe about God. It indicates what we truly believe about God in that when we put pressure on ourselves to stay busy under the guise of serving the Lord - to the point of burn out - it indicates that we believe our relationship with the Lord and His thoughts towards us are hinged upon what we do. That is the funnel to legalism, friends. Yes, works will flow out of our relationship with the Lord, but He desires to commune with us above all. He’s looking for a consistent heart connection. If we're out serving every day and yet we're not making time to just sit and be with the Lord in prayer and/or His Word, we're missing it; we're depriving ourselves of the greatest part of our relationship with the Father.
>> So then what is it God does ask of us?
To be faithful to what He’s called us to do, yes, but to first find our strength, rest and identity in Him.
Not only has God never asked us to burn out in His name, He invites us to do the opposite -
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. - Matthew 11:28-29
Take the pressure off and stop the perpetual cycle of burn out. That was never intended to be the life of the believer. We serve a God that invites us to rest in Him so that we may have the strength to walk out our faith and calling in this life as who He says we are.