Burnout and Depression

Isaiah 35:3, “Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.”

There is a movement afoot that has doctors so easily diagnosing people as having exhaustion or, as the world calls it, burnout. So many are burnt out, especially within the pastoral “profession.” What an interesting concept burnout is! I have learned how easy it is to get tired; in fact, all that is needed is the propensity toward being an idiot. In my foolhardiness I have ministered, worked, and traveled way too many hours, just as many people have done. It is not a sign of spirituality but rather a sign of stupidity. However, being burnt out is something much different; it comes from serving in the power of the flesh. It seems to be a common occurrence that many believers require more out of their flesh than God does. They do not believe themselves to be acceptable to God simply because of the work of Christ, and therefore they continue to work as an attempt to gain acceptance. This misconception has led many into self-affirming deeds of the flesh, a malady that unfortunately is encouraged by many pastors as they guilt manipulate the congregation into self-validating work that, more importantly, also validates the pastors. “The mind set on the flesh,” as the Scriptures tell us in Romans 8:7 & 8, “is hostile toward God . . . and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” An attempt to validate a relationship with God based on anything other than Christ is doomed to failure. However, what is vexing is that instead of seeing that such attempts are futile, the believers become depressed over their flesh’s inability to do better! It is internal anger over an outward failure to live with conduct suitable to and in line with what we saw in the life of Jesus. Yes, I know we are being told that 80% of people have a chemical imbalance; this comes from amazing “research statistics” pointing to the number of those depressed or manic depressive, people with ADHD, and sufferers of a variety of dysfunctions not listed. For one report to be valid, the average American would have to have three mental maladies. I have, of course, had contact with those with true chemical imbalance, a topic addressed in an earlier article, “Can a Christian Take Medications?” I am not knocking those who have physiological problems. What I am addressing is the depression that comes from the realization that we cannot live the Christian life. Of course we cannot! He alone can, and He can live it through us as we admit to Him our failure, release it to Him, and wait. Wait! It seems that so many dislike the WAIT word, though WAITING is faith, and we must remember that we did not decide in the flesh to change our flesh, but rather it was the conviction of God, with whose light will come the might. First comes the conviction that something must change. Second, we will attempt to change it ourselves and get depressed because we cannot, and finally, we will rest and let Him do the operation that frees us from the cancer consuming us. Yes, wait, and do not miss the rest of the Lord. In burnout we will learn something wonderful, and afterward the phrase, “I cannot,” that previously prompted weeping, will make our hearts sing. “I cannot, but He can” is a glorious statement that will lift us to heaven.

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