We desire to love and serve as Jesus did. We long to make an impact in the lives of those around us. We want to be a help and a support to our family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and community. So, we roll up our sleeves, pour another cup of strong coffee, shake off the feelings of burnout. We may think that it’s noble and honorable to run ourselves ragged, but are we giving with the right heart? Let’s take a closer look and see if any of these whys feel familiar.
Burnout. We’re all familiar with the all-encompassing feelings of sheer and utter exhaustion and unshakable disillusionment that comes when we push ourselves too far. It can seem like a tightrope walk, though, to find the balance between generously giving and giving until we have nothing left to give.
We want to be people who love and serve others well. We want to follow the example of Jesus who gave beyond what we can even comprehend. Not only that, we want to follow His commands to love and serve others.
Mark 10:45 NIV says, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
And verses like 1 Peter 4:10 NIV instructs us that, “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms."
We desire to love and serve as Jesus did. We long to make an impact in the lives of those around us. We want to be a help and a support to our family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and community. So, we roll up our sleeves, pour another cup of strong coffee, shake off the feelings of burnout, and we dive right in even though we feel dangerously close to the end of our rope.
However, all of our giving becomes counterproductive and ineffective to the Kingdom of God when we give so much that we burnout and have nothing left to offer. If we feel like we’re constantly giving more than what we have to give, it might be time to examine the why behind our burnout and see what God has to say about it.
We may think that it’s noble and honorable to run ourselves ragged, but are we giving with the right heart? Let’s take a closer look and see if any of these whys feel familiar.
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The Why's behind Our Burnout
1: We Want to Earn God’s Love or Approval
Sometimes we might push ourselves too far because we are looking for approval, or seeking to earn God’s. In fact, His word says in the second half of 2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV, “God loves a cheerful giver.”
And He does, but in our haste, I wonder if we miss the first part of that verse. 2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV says, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
Friend, God doesn’t say, “Give until you can’t give anymore, then keep giving.” He tells us to give what we’ve’ve decided to give and do it out of a love for Him, not because we feel like we have to. God isn’t keeping a tally sheet of our service to him and using it to decide how much He loves us. We are already unconditionally and unabashedly loved, regardless of what and how much we give.
Luke 6:38 reiterates this truth: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Our God is one of extravagant and abundant love. He loved us first. He pursued us first. He blessed us first. He sees our acts of loving service and he continues to pour out his abundant love over us because that’s just who He is.
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2: We Think We’re the Only Ones Who Can Meet Others’ Needs
Maybe it isn’t God’s approval that we are looking for by overextending ourselves. Maybe our why is that we want to please those around us and to show them how much we care for them because we feel like we are the only ones who can meet their needs.
In Galatians 5:13 NIV we see this: “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
Do you see the same theme in this verse? We are called to be free and serve humbly in love. It’s obvious that we are called to give and even do it in a way that is sacrificial—but we also don’t have to run ourselves into the ground either.
Humility looks many ways. It could mean that when we serve, we see our own limitations and acknowledge them as we serve others. We aren’t required to go beyond our breaking point.
Serving humbly and in love means that we do what we can, when we can, in whatever way we can and we trust that God, in His sovereignty, will take care of what we can’t for those we love.
If we want to be people who won’t give until they burn out and then be ineffective for the Kingdom of God, we need to be sure our “why” is right. We aren’t looking to earn God’s love or approval. We rest in the truth that His love is a gift we can’t earn. Nor are we striving to meet people’s needs because we think we’re the only ones who can. We serve where we can, how we can, when we can, and in whatever way we can, while humbly acknowledging that our good and faithful Father will meet us in our insufficiency and fill the gaps.
Listen to what one of the most famous passages of the Bible, often titled ‘Love In Action’ has to say about giving, and be assured that you don’t have to earn God’s love or take over for God as the one who meets all needs.
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What God Asks of Us
Here is the service and "love in action" God calls us to:
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:9-13)
Friend, we can be people who give generously over the long term without burning out. Our service can be an act of worship and praise to the God who gives abundantly more than we can think or imagine when we make sure our giving comes from the right reasons.
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