Mark 6:31 And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
I have recently heard about several pastors who have become burned out by the intensity and demands of the pastorate; and as a result, they have left the ministry. They were emotionally and physically exhausted to the point of inability to carry on.
This is not just a problem for pastors. Many people feel themselves reaching the breaking point with the demands and expectations that they are under while serving God in the ministries which they have volunteered for.
However, we often hear well meaning people telling us that we need to be more dedicated, more sacrificing of our time and money, and more intense in our service to God than we are.
So the question that we must answer is this: At what level of intensity should I serve Christ and His people? At what level of self-sacrifice, at what level of investment of time, at what level of personal effort – in short, at what level of all that the Word calls me to do?
Clearly, we need to serve at a level that is sustainable over the long term. It is far better to burn on in service to Christ, than to burn out in service to Christ. His desire is to employ people in His service, not to destroy them in His service. Total exhaustion and collapse in His service is not His will. There is a point at which service needs to stop and we need to come aside and rest a while.
What constitutes a sustainable level of service is going to be different for each person based on personality differences, spiritual maturity, emotional makeup, physical health, age, the presence or absence of a marriage partner, giftedness, and a great number of other factors.
Not everyone can be at the same level. I have to serve at the level that by God’s grace I am capable of, and not pass judgment on the level at which others function. I should not feel worthless because others do more than I, nor should I feel superior because I do more than others.
Some will have one talent of capacity, some three talents, and some five talents. It is God’s sovereignty that determines what our capabilities are. Ratcheting up my level of service to some unsustainable high pitch will not change that. It will only set me up for collapse.
The hyper-dedication urged by some may be attractive at first, especially to those with sensitive consciences. After all, what real Christian does not want to do more and be more for Christ?
Those who have survived on the battlefield of Christian service for a long time know better than to fall into that trap. They know who they are and what they are capable of in the long haul based on the grace that God has given to them; and they function there steadily year after year, knowing that they cannot do more, and knowing that they must not do less.
This is not complacency, nor is it satisfaction with something less than what Christ has enabled us to do or be. It is just the realization that it is His will for us that we are going to be limited and finite in our capacity to serve Him all the days of our lives.
Let us then do the best Christ has enabled us to do, recognizing that one person’s best will be different from another’s. Let us not compare ourselves among ourselves, as the unwise do.
There are many hands available to do the work of God. We are not called to do it all ourselves. God will raise up others to do what we cannot, and we must leave His work in His hands to get done as He sees fit. He will see to it that all that needs to get done is accomplished, if not by you, then by others He will raise up.
And what does not get done, was not meant to be done, otherwise God would have seen to it that it was done. In that, we can find peace.Pastor Max Doner Sovereign Grace Bible Church Lebanon, Oregon