From Part 3
How do we prevent BURNOUT from happening?
The final thing that I wish to comment on is about prevention, which is what I have learned. We look to the one who we mentioned earlier, Solomon, and draw form his wisdom as he discovered it and records them in Ecclesiastes. We journey through the whole book picking out certain verses.
- MAINTAIN A BALANCE IN YOUR LIFESTYLE:
Note in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 is says that there is a time for everything under heaven. Life is balancing act. We need time for work and time for play. In its time everything is beautiful. Solomon was a workaholic, and had to learn how to relax!
It is encouraging to see something significant here, from a survey of 1,500 top achievers, done by Charles Garfield, a professor in the school of medicine at the University of California, in San Francisco. Prof Garfield found that all these top achievers had one thing in common: They led balanced, well rounded lives. They were balanced!
How balanced is your life and mine? Is there place for work and fun, for solitude and for social activity, for exercise and rest, for creating and reflecting, for acting and praying, and so on? When Leigh and I sit and do a diary check each week, we seek to plan into the week each of these things. We have found this to be a very helpful exercise.
I have found that exercising is a blessing. This includes going for hour lengthy walks with Leigh twice a week, doing lengths on the gym pool, and doing a variety of Pilates, circuit exercises and aerobic exercises keeps my energy up and is not boring.
- DEVELOP STRONG PERSONAL FRIENDSHIPS:
Note in Ecclesiastes 4:9 “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work.” Friendships which are real and in place are a blessing and a source of support.
Throughout my ministry I have found that there are very few people you can trust and that most people will let one down at one time or another, as I have dome for them as well at times. It is said of Jesus that he entrust himself to anyone. John 2:24 (NIV84): ‘But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men.’ So what does that mean? One really important thing I learned through the years and I now applied during the last season. I asked a group of trusted senior men to gather around me which I called a discerning group. I selected those I believed could restore my faith in people and I could start to learn to trust again. I had found that those I had trusted had betrayed me and broken confidences, so found that things I shared were used against me. I then chose to be very careful with whom I shared. These men were trustworthy, and I only shared with them. This group met over the period of a year to think with me, to pray with me, to discern and put into action a planned way forward. It was from this that I regained a clear picture of how God can use me.
I have seem a clinical psychologist for years as well and trusted him with the journey as well. I am learning to only talk to the people who will hold what I say as precious and respect it.
Walter Winchell Said: “A friend is someone who walks in when everyone else walks out.” Are you cultivating friendships? I choose to have meals with significant people in my life regularly so as to nurture friendships with men. I have a deep friendship with my wife and immediate family and this feeds my sense of well-being. She knows my sin and weaknesses, but still loves me. These maintain my life and they support me in my struggles. Everyone needs personal friendships. Seek them out. Invest in them for the long haul.
- TAKE TIME TO ENJOY THE PRESENT:
I also notes in Ecclesiastes 5:18: “Then I realized that it is good and proper for a person to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labour under the sun during the few days of life God has given him - for this is his lot.” When we use the present to regret the past and worry about the future we come to realise that the present is lost forever. Taking time to realise that God is good, and the moment is real and wonderful, is to open ourselves to the glory of God with us now. When I worry over things I am not meant to worry about, energy is dissipated. I have found that worry is energy turned inwards. It is a waste. When we take time to reflect on our days and see what there is to enjoy we realise that each day does have some treasures. Life is meant to be enjoyed.
Maybe you remember the poem: “Pussy cat, pussy car, where have you been? I’ve been to London to look at the Queen. Pussy cat, pussy cat, what did you there? I frightened a little mouse under her chair.” Well the cat had all the magnificent sights to see, but was obsessed with the mice, and missed out on the wonder of the moment!
A Christian martyr of our century wrote: “Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” Living this way prevents burnout. Enjoying the moments and the people that are in them has been a great gift to me.
One of the things has been to have interest and hobbies. I have made time to do a host of maintenance jobs around the house, as well as reading and writing, in addition to things that I love like photography and videography. Going on dates with Leigh and having time to watch our daughters’ sports and drama activities has been deeply enriching.
- LET GOD BE GOD, AND NOT YOU
On this point I was reminded of the time when I arrived at a Conference in Chicago, and I was issued with a nametag which said: “CHRIST HARRISON”. We laughed. One man said: “Is this what the resurrection body feels like?” Another said: “Jesus you look nothing like I thought you would look!” I said: “Please give me another name tag, before I assume messianic tendencies.”
We all have attempted to be the Messiah at some time. This happens when we think that all is in our control, and we can do so many things, making out that we are invincible. We often find that we fail. I often have to remind myself that I am NOT the Omni-competent person! I saw a T-shirt that reminded me of this which said: ‘There are two truths: There is a God and you are not Him!’ When we play God, we are going to burnout. However when looked into Ecclesiastes again I found in chapter 12:13 these key words: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of people.”
To fear God is to hold Him in awe and wonder, so we respect Him and his authority. We have reverence for Him. He is not your Big Buddy in the sky. He is God. He alone is God! I have found such comfort to do my part and leave it all to God. God knows better than me and knows what is best for me. I have found such deep peace with this. Over and over I have found God to be utterly trustworthy and my faith in God has been affirmed and validated.
So there is the story, my story and discoveries. What God did for Elijah and Peter God did for me and can do for you. Fresh bread from dry crumbs. He can do the impossible, and can take the dry crumbs of a relationship, career, a life, a job, an emotion, and make it fresh again. He can do this again for you.