Burnout (Part 1)

I. Burnout is the exhaustion of physical or emotional strength brought on by continued stress; it is a loss of enthusiasm, energy, idealism, perspective, and purpose. A. Scripture calls it despair which is the loss of hope. 1SAM 27:1. 1. Without hope we are lost . ROM 8:24. 2. Without hope we are adrift without an anchor. HEB 6:18-20. 3. Without hope we are defenseless, without a helmet. 1TH 5:8. 4. Without hope we are insecure. JOB 11:18-19. 5. Without anticipation we have nothing to live for. 6. The arrow with no target falls to the ground. B. GAL 6:9 is a telling commentary on burnout. 1. A person starts out doing well. 2. As well doing escalates, he becomes weary. 3. He loses sight of the prospect of reaping in due season. 4. He faints, that is, he gives up. II. The following are characteristics of burnout: A. Acute emotional pain. PSA 6:3; PSA 55:4a. B. Fearfulness, a continual sense of dread. PSA 55:4b-5a. C. Trembling. PSA 55:5a. D. A sense of being overwhelmed. PSA 55:5b; 143:4. E. Loss of energy. PSA 88:4. F. A disgust with life and work. ECC 2:15-23. G. Just putting in your time on the job and going through the motions. JOB 7:2-3. H. Confusion, no sense of direction. JOB 10:15; LAM 3:6, 9-11. I. Fretting. PSA 37:1. 1. Fret: “To gnaw. To chafe, irritate. Chiefly with regard to the mind: To annoy, distress, vex, worry. To distress oneself with constant thoughts of regret or discontent.” 2. This fretting can lead to anger and sin. PSA 37:8. 3. Fretting can be against the Lord. PRO 19:3. J. Bitterness. JOB 7:11; 10:1. K. Excessive cynicism towards others. PSA 116:11. L. Rejection of comfort. PSA 77:2; GEN 37:35; EXO 6:9. M. Detachment, a desire to escape and be left alone. JOB 7:16; 10:20; PSA 55:6-8. N. Loss of sleep. PSA 77:4; JOB 7:3-4, 13-15. O. Loss of appetite. PSA 102:4. P. Difficulty in concentrating. PSA 88:15. Q. Reduced accomplishment. JOB 7:3. R. Physical problems. JOB 30:27; PSA 102:3; PRO 18:14. S. Loss of fellowship with God. PSA 77:7-9; JOB 10:16-20; 30:20-22. III. The state of burnout is dangerous. A. In such a state a person may give up on serving God and others. B. It can lead to serious moral downfall. JER 18:12. C. The burnout victim can be suicidal. IV. A continual barrage of problems is definitely a factor in burnout, but some people have had this and have not burned out. A. Consider the plight of David as expressed in PSA 3. 1. He could sleep in the face of increasing trouble. 2. He would not be afraid of ten thousands of enemies. B. Consider David’s plight in 1SAM 30:1-6; yet he encouraged himself in the LORD his God. C. Or consider Paul who, though troubled on every side, was not in despair. 2CO 4:8-9; 11:23-33. D. Therefore, we must look deeper to find the cause of burnout. V. Following are some of the causes of burnout. A. Over-commitment, trying to do too much, is a major cause of burnout. EXO 18:13-18. 1. This is the person who thinks he must be perpetually available for everyone and everything. He cannot say “no.” 2. It is the person who thinks he must do everything himself and, therefore, never delegates responsibility to others. 3. This is the person who thinks of himself indispensable. 4. It is the person who must know everything about and control all people and situations around him. 5. It is one who assumes responsibility for everybody’s problems. 6. This is the person who finds his sense of worth in an endless round of “productive” activity. 7. It is one who feels guilty if he relaxes and does nothing. 8. This is the person who will not even stop if he is sick. 9. It is Martha cumbered about with much serving, careful and troubled about many things. LUK 10:38-42. a. Note that such persons neglect spending time at Jesus’ feet hearing His word which is that one thing “needful.” b. Such persons also resent those who are not doing what they are doing. 10. It is the husband and father of several children who owns a home and two cars, works sixty hours a week at a job that is thirty minutes away, attends functions at his children’s school, goes to school to improve himself professionally, faithfully serves his church, plays racquetball to keep in shape, tries to maintain a social life, and dies of a massive cardiac arrest at age forty-two. B. Unfulfilled expectations or deferred hope are another major source of burnout. LUK 24:17-24; PRO 13:12; PSA 13:1-2; JER 15:16-18. 1. One can become SO absorbed with an unfulfilled expectation that it is all he thinks about. a. This continuous thinking is exhausting and frightening. b. In such an exhausted state even small problems and decisions become major hurdles. c. In such a state a person begins to fear he is going mad. 2. This is the person who expected appreciation for a job well done and did not get it, 3. This is the man who poured himself into a business enterprise which promised great profit only to lose everything. 4. It is the woman who has longed and longed for a baby and yet never conceives. 5. This is the parent who poured himself into his child only to have that child turn out to be a fool. PRO 17:21, 25. 6. It is the parent who keeps hoping that a wayward child will get his act together. 7. This is the person who thought he was married for life only to have his spouse abandon him. 8. This is the abandoned lover who hopes that his beloved will return to him and yet waits and waits for that time. 9. It is the person who has been betrayed by a friend he thought he could trust. PSA 41:9; 55:12-14. 10. This is the person who hopes for a job change or a move that sometimes seems close but never arrives. 11. It is the one who expects someone to change yet that person stays the same. 12. It is the sick person who keeps thinking he will get better but does not. 13. This is the person who thought he could please everybody and discovers that he cannot. 14. It is the person who thought he joined a perfect church only to find that it is made up of sinners. 15. This is the minister who labors to produce more mature church members and yet sees little or no progress in some. C. Envy will lead to burnout. JOB 5:2; PRO 14:30. 1. The envious can never accept the superiority of others over themselves. 2. He who envies is seeking vain glory. GAL 5:26. 3. The person who aspires to be what he cannot be is seeking a vain thing that can only lead to endless frustration. 4. Madison Avenue advertising feeds envy in that it subtly implies that we are not all that we can be or should be. 5. Envy is bitter and breeds confusion and every evil work. JAM 3:14-16. 6. Envy will lead one to either emulate the man who is superior or destroy the man who is superior. PRO 3:31; MAR 15:10. D. Covetousness is another source of burnout. 1TI 6:5-10. 1. The lust for riches is a relentless taskmaster that will never let its victim be content with what he has. ECC 5:10. 2. Life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. LUK 12:15. 3. The covetous will be drowned in destruction and pierced THROUGH with MANY sorrows. 4. This is the person who trusts in riches and is filled with anxiety concerning them. 1TI 6:17; PRO 23:5; MAT 6:31-32. 5. It is one who thinks he would be happy if only he had more. E. Pride and self-righteousness will cause burnout. PRO 16:18. 1. This is the person who works for praise of men. MAT 23:5. a. Such a person may be compensating for feelings of inferiority. b. Such a person can be burned out by criticism. 2. This is the person who derives his sense of worth from doing more than others and thus cannot bear to be outdone by others. 3. It is the person who cannot share praise and wants credit for everything. 4. This is the person who cannot accept that he makes mistakes and fails. a. Such a person may wear himself out by being overcautious to avoid making mistakes. b. Such a person relishes his perfect performance rather than God’s mercy. 5. It is the person who cannot endure the humbling experience of tribulation because he thinks he is too good for it. a. This was Job’s problem. JOB 27:5-6; 32:1-2. b. Job wanted to argue with God. JOB 23:3-4; 40:8. F. Guilt is a fertile source for burnout. 1. The symptoms of burnout arise from the burden of guilt. PSA 38:1-11. 2. Guilt can arise from actual sin or from imagined sin as in the case of thinking that we must be perpetually available. 3. This is the one who engages in endless “good” or “productive” work to prove to himself and others that he is not that bad. G. Fear will lead to burnout. 1. Fear is an effect of guilt. GEN 3:10. 2. Fear debilitates a person in that it causes faintness and cowardice. DEU 20:3, 8; JOS 2:9-11. 3. The spirit of fear generates bondage. ROM 8:15; HEB 2:15; PRO 29:25. 4. Fear has torment. 1JO 4:18. 5. Nervous illness is the expression of sustained fear. a. Fear is said to cause the release of adrenalin which stimulates bodily organs to produce sensations like rapid heartbeat. b. Fear of these sensations will result in the production of more adrenalin which will in turn stimulate the bodily organs to increased sensation which leads to more fear. c. Fear of the effects of fear will intensify those effects. 6. This is the person who fears what people will think of him. 7. It is the agoraphobe who fears to venture from home. 8. This is the person who cannot accept death. 9. It is one who assumes that because things were bad in the past, they will be in the future. He thus dreads the future. 10. It is the person who does not utilize the opportunities he has because he fears he will make a mistake. MAT 25:25.
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