In recent years, a number of Christian leaders have rightly called lethargic and half-hearted Christians to quicken their pace, to dedicate more of their time, talents, money and efforts to serving the Lord in the local church and in evangelistic outreach at home and abroad.
I welcome this “radical,” “don’t waste your life” message to up the pace, and I rejoice in its positive impact on thousands of Christians. Some of us, though, need to hear a different message:
“Slow your pace or you’ll never finish the race.”
As Brady Boyd warns in Addicted to Busy, “Ultimately, every problem I see in every person I know is a problem of moving too fast for too long in too many aspects of life.”
I’m not proposing that we put our feet up and opt out of life and Christian service. No, I’m talking about being sensitive to changes in ourselves and our circumstances and re-calibrating our pace to ensure personal sustainability.
Such pacing skills are in short supply among Christians, with the result that too many—especially those most committed to serving Christ—are crashing or fading fast before their race is over. It’s not just a “Christian” problem though; it’s also a culture problem. There are 225 million workdays lost every year in the United States due to stress; that’s nearly one million people not working every working day.
“But I’m young, energetic and healthy. Why should I care about burnout and sustainability?” Every victim of burnout will tell you that unhealthy patterns of living and working that they learned in their youth caused their downfall later in life.
And if any group is in danger today, it’s the Millennial generation, whose stress levels are higher than the national average, according to a report by the American Psychological Association. Thirty-nine percent of Millennials say their stress has increased in the past year, and 52 percent say stress about work, money and relationships has kept them awake at night in the past month, with one in five clinically depressed or stressed out and needing medication.
In Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture, I explore a number of ways in which we can build personal sustainability. Three of the most relevant for the younger generation are: improved sleep, a regular Sabbath and recovering our God-given identity.
Click through to Relevant for he rest of this article and more about these three personal sustainability habits.