This week’s blog is over one of my favorite topics: interaction with the Holy Spirit. Before we begin, I must say that there isn’t any specific passage of scripture that teaches what I’m about to write, so place an asterisk in your mind by everything that you read. This is more like an amalgamation of my accumulated knowledge gathered over the past two and a half years than an expositional teaching on the Bible. With that being said, interpret this blog as more of an “I think” than an “I know,” and take it as friendly advice—I’m probably wrong anyway. To declare me blasphemous, order a picture of my face to slice in ribbons, or to request a burning at the stake, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cure for Burnout
Last week we spent a whole blog talking about some symptoms and causes of burnout. This week, happier things. The solution to burnout is simple: worship, in whatever form that takes.
I believe that worship and interaction with the Spirit are synonymous terms. I’m not sure that they’re precisely the same, because the Spirit serves us in more ways than just what we would consider ‘worship’ (such as conviction of sin, communication of His leadership and direction, etcetera), but I do believe that you can’t have true worship without the Spirit pulling the strings. Because of that, let’s go through four of the most effective and most joyful ways that I’ve seen God give me worship when I’ve been going through burnout.
Worship #1: Prayer
I think this is the method that God has used most consistently to draw me out of gross emptiness. In the past when I prayed sometimes God has filled me with the love and confidence in Him that I had before I was burned out, and He’s given me a worshipful heart towards Him for entire months at a time, speaking generally; sometimes, He’s given me the strength to continue as though I wasn’t burned out when I really was; and sometimes He hasn’t given me anything, and I’ve ended up praying to an empty ceiling. Hey, it happens. Life sucks—that’s why Heaven exists, because God loves us.
But even in those last instances, I could at least go to sleep knowing that I didn’t desert my responsibilities or my commitment to Him when I stopped feeling His joy. Burnout strikes at the very base of our love for God, and it saps away the core of our desire to live spiritually. I think being faithful through a time of this emptiness grows our understanding of the ‘Well done, good and faithful servant’ that will come to those who follow Him well, and it shows us how incredibly valuable that affirmation will be.
Worship #2: Community
It’s impossible to overstate the value of community in the life of the believer. I rant about prayer constantly in these blogs, but that isn’t because I believe prayer is the most important aspect of a believer’s life—rather, it’s because I tend to meet a lot of believers with apathetic prayer habits. Prayer is important to a believer as gas is to a car, but I believe community is the car’s engine and transmission. Community is the lifeline of the believer to fellowship with God, and community (definition: putting yourself around the godliest men and women you can find and keeping yourself there) is a critical aspect of a Christian’s life, regardless of age.
Community can save a Christian from burnout through encouragement. This word, ‘encouragement,’ is the Bible’s umbrella term for the refreshing of a believer, no matter what activity is actually done. ‘Encouragement’ could be sitting in a coffee shop NOT talking about ministry after burnout (talking about anything BUT ministry, I mean). It could be playing racketball. It could be talking about ministry and a friend explaining how God has been helping him lately. It could be a draft beer and an old episode of Star Trek: TNG. (Picture me during Spring Break. Yes, that happened.) It could be anything—it’s whatever God uses to refresh another believer, so it could even be a radio station. My favorite radio station on the planet is 94.9 in the Dallas/Fort Worth area—it’s encouraged me countless times.
Worship #3: The Bible
It’s hard for me to put the Bible so low on any list. Number 3? Really? The Bible? Yeah, I know, I feel like a heretic too.
The Bible gets rid of burnout the same way that nuclear bombs get rid of people. It’s just gone. It didn’t go anywhere. Nothing changed. It’s just gone. It’s another method of deep and intimate interaction with the Spirit, and it works, even when it seems like it isn’t working.
To be honest, this is probably the most frustrating method that I’ve found when it doesn’t work. Sometimes when I’ve been burned out I’ve read the Bible constantly, believing that if I just read more, I’d be spiritual enough to feel God again. Guess what? Nope. It’s His timing, His ups and His downs, and He’ll bring you out of it when He’s good and ready. But, when the Bible works, it feels marvelous.
Worship #4: Artistic Worship
Self-expression has long been one of the deepest ways that I interact with God. My personal favorite modes of expression are through music or writing. When I try to express myself to God, it’s almost a form of self-counseling—I begin to understand myself in a new way, and my relationship with God changes slightly. Often, this refreshes me. Sometimes not, of course, but it’s still a tried and true method.
That’s all, folks. That’s all I know about burnout and how to quit yourselves thereof. Stay strong through the nothingness and you’ll see Jesus on the other side.
Lord, please keep us close to You. I pray that You would fill us with wisdom enough to know truth when we feel the opposite, and I pray that You would protect us from attacks against our enemy. God, we love You, and we seek to do Your will—please lead us and direct us in Your paths. In Jesus’ Name,