High stress environments, emotional involvement, and outcomes that can’t be controlled despite intense effort; it’s no wonder the charred state of body and soul exhaustion is most common among the helping professions. But it is far from impossible to burn out while mothering or writing, practicing law or teaching Sunday School.
If you’re highly dedicated and gifted with unusual skill, you can even burn out while still standing.
Just follow these three simple steps.
1) Carry the burden yourself. Don’t let anyone see your weakness, and never ask for help. Don’t forget that only you can do the task right. Tired? Press on. Plug your ears to Jesus’ call to come and learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
2) Avoid delight, that dangerous antidote to the drivenness that leads to burnout. Letting yourself consider the whisper that He delights in you apart from your work will weaken your resolve to push past your limits and diminish your opportunity for burn-out. Whatever you do, don’t let yourself delight in the simple pleasures of being human. A nap, watching the sparkles on the water, enjoying the cold air nip ungently at your cheeks – all are highly dangerous if you’re intent on burning out.
3) Stay far from the Flame. He knows too well how to set bushes on fire without causing them to burn up, how to use pillars of dangerous flame to guide and protect rather than destroy. And He takes far too great delight in bestowing tongues of flame that fall and fill dry bones with brightly burning life. You’ll burn out far more effectively on your own, a log separated from the fire. Just stay focussed on the work and don’t let yourself be distracted by the Flame and all should proceed according to plan.