by Gretchen Huesmann
Tired. Weary. Exhausted. Sometimes we’re just having a busy day. At other times, we experience seasons of hard work and long hours. Unfortunately, not all labor produces obvious fruit and we can feel like we’re spinning our wheels, a common feeling in ministry. Obviously, if our path is leading to burnout, something has to give. It’s time to take a step, even if we’re dead on our feet.
1. Step Back
Sometimes we just need to take a STEP BACK – a break, a hiatus, or a vacation. How many people really take a day off or a true Sabbath rest? I know I’m guilty of dragging work home with me on a regular basis. Jesus Himself set a better example when He said, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place to get some rest.” (Mark 6:31)
Or perhaps a longer respite is required, such as a sabbatical. This is trickier, but may be necessary for clarity, health, and rejuvenation. My husband and I have friends who recently embarked on a 6-month sabbatical. This step was not an easy one for them or their workplaces. However, the alternative, to continue the downward spiral toward burnout, was not a welcome option.
2. Step Aside
At other times, the Lord may be calling us to STEP ASIDE. Could it be that God has something else in mind for us or less in mind for us? Maybe it’s time for someone else to run the Sunday School or plan VBS. I know a woman who has led the same Bible study group for 30 years! She’s very proud of that. Yet I can’t help but wonder how many potential leaders have missed out from her unwillingness to step aside.
3. Step Away
Perhaps a bigger step is needed, a STEP AWAY. Any kind of change is daunting, especially a career change. It requires prayerful consideration, conversations with family, and searching God’s Word for direction. It takes courage and clarity and a whole lot of trust. Recently, a friend left his job to start his own construction business, a bold move to be sure, but a God-directed and God-inspired one. He has a new bounce in his step.
4. Step Up
One last option is to STEP UP. Is God calling you to press on? To lean into the work, not with your own strength, but with His power?
Paul describes this in Philippians 3:13-14, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ.” And in Colossians 1:29, “To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me.”
Noah pressed on to build the ark, despite the dry weather. Moses pressed on with the Egyptians behind and the Red Sea ahead. Jesus stepped up when He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me, yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)
What step do you need to take? Proverbs 4:26a says, “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet.” If exhaustion is leading you on a path toward burnout, carefully, prayerfully consider your next step. Know that our God will lead you.
Gretchen Huesmann loves to connect women with God’s Word through Bible studies, retreats, and blogging. Since little people are her other joy, she also teaches 4K. Gretchen lives in Jackson, Wisconsin. You can find her blog at www.gretchenhuesmann.com.
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When circumstances are difficult my usual prayer is for rescue out of the problem! Whether for myself or for others, I often pray that God would lessen the burden or give help to escape the crisis. Sometimes the answer is “yes.”
But sometimes God allows the difficulty to continue. What then do I pray?
In the book of Acts, when the disciples were under threat from the authorities, they gathered to confer. What did their prayer sound like? What did they pray in very difficult circumstances? Luke tells us that together they prayed,
Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus. (Acts 4:29-30).
Now that is a prayer that God loves to answer, “Yes!” What are some other prayers that God loves to answer, “Yes”? Prayers and petitions that deepen our trust and relationship with God. For example:
When praying for strength, Paul shows us that our strength lies in our weakness. Christ said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power, is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:8) In response Paul stated, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10b) Christ enables his servants to receive His power in all circumstances.
The Lord’s Prayer also reminds me: we are not feeble souls who whimper “Thy will be done” with a sigh of futile resignation, but as saints confident of God working out his purposes, “Thy will be done!” I pray with greater confidence when I remember it is “our Father” we are praying to. We are praying through Christ, who Himself experienced hardship and perils, knows our weakness, and pours strength into us.
In praying for courage, we get far more than what we ask for – we get God. We get an infusion of en-courage-ment from the Lord of the universe. Immeasurable energy in contact with measurable need. “On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.” (Psalm 138:3).
“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I hope” (Psalm 130:5). Biblical hope is anchoring one’s soul in the gift of assurance that God is and that God overflows with love toward each of us. And God is “stretching out His hand” now, working out His purposes even in the midst of chaos or heartache. We are learning to stay alert to the God who works in unexpected ways. As P.T. Forsyth says,
In prayer we become more and more sure that He is sure, and knows all things, and hesitates or falters never, and commands all things to His end. All along Christ is being formed within us as we pray.
Peace – shalom
The Hebrew word shalom is much richer than an absence of anxiety or conflict. There is a sense of wellness, a mending or healing of something broken now knit together into wholeness. When you get peace, you get healing – spiritual, emotional, physical, relational. Prayer lifts us to be more sure of the Gift-giver than the gift, more alert to God’s grace than our need.
Strength, courage, hope, peace – prayers that Jesus loves to answer “Yes!” Through the name of your holy servant Jesus, Amen; it will be so!
Dr. Linda Borecki is part-time faculty at Concordia University, Portland, and music minister at Christ the Vine Lutheran Church, Damascus, Oregon. Among her favorite prayer mentors are Carla Waterman, Robert Warren, P.T. Forsyth, all the psalmists, and the bold, prayer-loving Martin Luther.
Learn how to make sense of nonsensical situations by taking Peter’s lead when he obediently trusted Jesus despite it defying human logic …
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:1-11)
Jesus knew the physics of sound traveling over the water, so He used Peter’s boat to teach the large crowd that day. We know that Peter was about done working for the day. He was washing his nets and probably thinking about going home to get some much needed rest. After Jesus had finished teaching, He asked Peter to go to deeper water and get his nets dirty. REALLY? I think that the equivalent for us would be: You’ve just finished cooking, eating, and cleaning up your dinner. You have washed the pots and pans and have loaded the dishwasher. Then Jesus says to you, “Make me supper.” How would you react?
Look at Peter’s answer in v.5. First of all, Peter calls Jesus, “Master.” He knew that Jesus was an important person; One Who taught with authority. (By the way, have you acknowledged Jesus as “Master” of your life today?) Then he was honest. They had worked all night and had struck out. NO FISH. There isn’t anything much worse than working for hours with no tangible result! My guess that is Peter only made money when he had fish to sell!
I absolutely LOVE the next part: “but, because YOU say so, I will let down the nets.” Have you used that line with your kids, “Do it because I said so!” Well, Peter was acting with childlike obedience in this situation. HE let down the nets and the result was incredible: so many fish that two boats began to sink! Peter then saw Who Jesus really was and starting following Jesus as a full-time disciple. (walking away from a fortune, by the way!)
Is Jesus asking you to do something that doesn’t make sense? This definitely didn’t make sense to Peter: a good fisherman didn’t fish in the middle of the day, in deep water.
What is your nonsensical situation? Do you have to trust Him with a health scare? Do you have to trust Him in a marriage that isn’t what you dreamt of? Do you have to trust Him in a job that is stressful and demanding? Do you have to trust Him with finances that don’t add up?
No matter what situation you might be in, Jesus wants you to respond with trusting obedience. Keep praying. Keep reading His Word. Keep coming to worship. Keep serving. He will prove Himself faithful! He has a good plan for your life!
Karen Lippert is the Director of Women’s Ministry at Divine Redeemer in Hartland, WI.
God + Exercise + Meals + Sleep = An energized YOU! Read on for tips from Karen Sue Hinz Murdy on how to apply this recipe to equip yourself with energy for leadership:
As I pondered the words of advice I wanted to write for my eldest son heading off to college twelve hours away from home, I considered the stresses he would encounter at college. What words would truly help him?
As I pondered the words to share with my exhausted friend who was mothering a newborn, I considered the words that would encourage her through this exhilarating, yet exhausting, time.
As I pondered the words to express to women leaders who want to build energy in order to serve in their churches and in their homes, I considered the priorities for their valuable time.
The words I’ve found for all three of these scenarios, and for many others, are real gems!
Everyday include these G.E.M.S.:
G: God time. Make God-time first and foremost. Read your Bible. Be encouraged. Pray. Find strength in God’s promises:
“They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
At a very beneficial WLI conference in Milwaukee a few years ago, I heard Ida Mall speak. Although I can’t quote her exact words, the essence of them was, “If it doesn’t have to do with eternity, let it go.” By having God-time daily, the perspective of eternity helps guide your priorities.
E: Exercise Make exercise a part of every day. Ideally exercise 30 minutes a day, but something is always better than nothing. At least, go for a 10 minute walk, preferably outside in the sunshine. Exercise has a plethora of benefits and will help you physically, mentally, cognitively, and spiritually! You can even combine your exercise time with your God-time by listening to your Bible on a phone app and praying while you walk.
M: Meals…good nutrition. The food you feed your body fuels your body. To work well, feed your body well. Make sure to include protein and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables each day.
S: Sleep God designed our bodies to have rest time. Without it, most people cannot function well. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults.
God so amazingly created our awesome minds and bodies. When these GEMS are included each day, you will have more physical energy to serve in your home and at church. When we plug into the Power Source, we received grace from our loving God and find strength for our days.
Karen Sue Hinz Murdy, Speaker and Certified Exercise Physiologist, loves to encourage and equip people both in their spiritual and physical walk with the Lord. For more information, please check out karensuemurdy.blogspot.com or call 608-346-9866.