Then Jesus said, “Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.”
Friend to Friend
I sat on the edge of my seat as I watched my son’s first track meet. The crowd was abuzz as moms and dads chatted, waiting for their teens to dash, sprint, or endure the eight laps of the 3200-meter race. But when the boys lined up for the hurdles event, the visiting stopped and the crowd watched with rapt attention.
Why? In the hurdles event, the stakes were higher. It became less about who would win, and more about who would gracefully leap and clear the metal roadblocks or tip and topple over the intentional barriers.
Hurdles—they are not simply found on the asphalt of track and field but also in the great race called life. As women, we struggle finding balance with our many roles and responsibilities. Our flame of enthusiasm begins to diminish when we are doing more than God intended or when we are doing what God intended, but on our own strength rather than His.
In the Bible we see many who experienced times of burnout. After Jonah’s miraculous delivery from the big fish and prophetic announcement to the people of Nineveh, he sank into a depression and wanted to die. “Now, Lord, take away my life,” he cried. “For it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah 4:3).
After Elijah destroyed 850 false prophets and called down fire from heaven that miraculously burned up sacrifices to Baal, the fire in his own life went dim (1 Kings 18-19). And yet, after it was over, he wanted to quit. Elijah prayed, “I have had enough, LORD. Take my life” (1 Kings 19:4).
How do we avoid those same feelings of burnout, even after a great success? The first step is to realize that it can happen and does happen to the best of us. Burnout is real. We can run out of steam and lose our drive.
What was God’s response to Elijah’s cry to quit? Let’s take a look at 1 Kings 19. I suggest you pull out your Bible and follow along.
- He allowed Elijah to sleep (19:5)–rest.
- He sent an angel to provide food for him to eat (19:5)–refreshment
- He allowed Elijah to sleep again (19:6)–more rest
- He sent an angel to provide food for him to eat again (19:7)–refreshment
- He caused Elijah to ponder what he was doing: “What are you doing here?” (19:9)–reflection
- He spoke to Elijah personally (19:11)–response
- He caused Elijah to ponder what he was doing, again. “What are you doing here?” (19:13)–reflection
- He told Elijah what to do next (19:15)–redirection
- He showed Elijah whom He had appointed to help him (19:16)–reinforcement
Even Jesus had to take time to rest, refresh, reflect, respond, redirect, and gather reinforcement. The Bible tells us this about Jesus: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where he prayed” (Mark 1:35 NIV).
Early in the morning Jesus went off by Himself and spent time alone with His heavenly Father. Interestingly, Simon and his companion interrupted Jesus’ time of prayer.
“Everyone is looking for you!” they exclaimed. (I’ve been there. I bet you have too.)
The day before, Jesus had healed many men and women. No doubt, the disciples and the townspeople wanted Him to return to perform more miracles. But Jesus had a different idea. ”Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also,” He said. “That is why I have come.”
I love that Jesus said “no” to a good thing so that he could say “yes” to the best thing. That is the bull’s eye to avoiding burnout. But how do you know when to say no? He prayed.
If you’re feeling a bit burned out today: Consider the following.
- Rest often. (God rested on the seventh day.)
- Refresh with proper diet.
- Re-evaluate priorities and responsibilities on a regular basis (monthly).
- Relegate and delegate.
- Review commitments regularly (monthly).
- Resist saying “yes” to demands and requests that do not line up with what God has called you to do.
- Resist being ruled by your schedule and allow for divine appointments from God that may not be on your schedule.
- Remove superfluous activities that interfere with or choke out God’s agenda.
- Refocus on what God has called you to do rather than what others would like for you to do.
- Remain in close and constant communion with God.
Dear Lord, I’ll admit, I’m tired today. I need the refreshment that only You can give. Send the Holy Spirit to reinforce my spirit today! I am expecting His energizing force! Help me to reflect on You and Your goodness all day long.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Go back up to the Rs. What would each one of those look like in your life? Be realistic. I know Hawaii would be a great idea for refreshment, but that probably won’t happen in my life todayJ.
For example: Rest—stop all activities at 8 p.m. rather than 10 p.m. and soak a long hot bath.
More from the Girlfriends
This devotion was taken from my book, Building an Effective Women’s Ministry. If you are a woman in leadership of any kind, you’ll find this book packed with resources and ideas for leading an effective team. And did you know that I have a storehouse of free resources on my website? I have free chapter downloads from most of my books, videos, living life resources, interviews and magazine articles. Check it out at www.sharonjaynes.com and while you’re there, don’t forget to sign up for my blog.