When I swung out on the vine, it broke, and I hit my head on a rock. We were hunting, and my boys had just swung on this vine to get over the fence. Not only did I see several star constellations and even the backside of the moon when I hit my head, but my two-point landing included a blow to my hip as well. My feet did not help at all, as they were still hanging from the top of the fence I had tried to swing over.
Humiliated in front of my boys, I climbed over the fence, shouldered my rifle, and led the way to teach my young men how to hunt for dinner. Dignity regained, I promptly tripped on a root and went sprawling on the ground. I told the boys that if they did not stop laughing, they would scare away all the deer in the woods.
Doing things not meant for you will cause burnout
It did not take long for me to lose interest in hunting. I just have never been a good outdoors-man. When you do things you are not suited for, you will burn out. Everyday, men and women slow roast themselves doing something they were told was important. Do they ever ask themselves if God called them to it? Just because something is worth doing does not mean it should be done by everybody. Jail ministry, teaching children’s class, and youth work are great causes, but not everyone can do them:
“And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?” (I Corinthians 12:28-30)
Do what God calls you to and prevent burnout
By a God-calling, I do not mean an annoying sound like that deer call I was using. I do not mean hearing a heavenly voice, either. God helps “make you willing and able to obey his own purpose” (Philippians 2:13, GNB). When He calls me to something, He puts a love for it in my heart. He changes my will. I find myself wanting to teach a Bible study or go pray with someone for no obvious reason. If I am doing the wrong thing, I often end up hating it—like that stupid deer call. I got sick of hearing that thing; it sounded like a goat belching.
Doing right things for the wrong reason
When you do things just to make others happy or to earn appreciation, you will kill yourself. We do everything to please God first, not ourselves or others. This does not mean we just wait around and only do things when we feel good and ready. God calls us to join a local church. Part of that calling includes cooperation with the larger vision for the whole group. I remember early in my ministry, my pastor wanted me to do something in the church I really did not want to do. I did what he asked, but I kept telling myself, “This is not me.” Then one day, God put a love in my heart for that ministry. I couldn’t stop thinking about it, praying about it, and steering my life in that direction. I still have not changed course from that and love every minute of it–without burning out.
Do what pleases God
Fulfilling your calling will be rewarding and sustaining. I like hunting on occasion, but I could not do it all year. When you do what God gives you a desire for, the passion will drive you. Sometimes you will get to a plateau or downward slope where you lose the momentum for what you had set out to do. You need to go back to the one who called you for strength and fresh focus (Revelation 17:14).
If it is something I have to do, like raising kids, I ask Him to give me a love for it, so I do not burnout. I do not need to ask if I am called to fatherhood. Since God gave me children, I know I am called to dadhood. I have to refocus often to keep my goals in sight.
Do you live to make others happy?
Do you live just to make yourself happy?
Both of those motives will burn you out. Instead, prevent burnout when you live to glorify Jesus and “fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness” (II Thessalonians 1:11, KJV).