Here’s a round-up of articles to help you live a grace-paced life in a burnout culture. I’ll be discussing these articles in a Facebook Live video at my Facebook page on Friday at 1pm ET. If you have any questions on this subject that you’d like me to answer, please leave a comment below or post it on Facebook.
The Other Woman
Christian men are often warned about the danger of having an affair at work. What about the danger of having an affair with our work? That’s the danger Samuel James highlights in The Other Woman, with a special caution to those in ministry.
If a man is working long nights and weekends so he can spend time away from his family and with a female coworker, he would be (rightly) rebuked. But if he’s working long nights and weekends just because he derives from his career a peace and identity and thrill that home cannot match, what do we say then? If you want to get really uncomfortable, go back to that previous sentence and replace the word “career” with the word “ministry.” The temptation for celebrity pastors to put their spouse and family on autopilot must be sore indeed when there are so many book deals and conference invitations to be gained.
And it’s not just “celebrity pastors” who are at risk. Ministry is often so inherently enjoyable that working 50 hours a week instead of 60-70 is sometimes an act of self-denial.
The 100 Hour Error
While we’re on the subject of long working hours, I couldn’t agree more with Michael Hyatt who gives three reasons why overwork is a productivity killer in Elon Musk and the 100 hour error. While acknowledging that Musk may be a genius, Hyatt warns “he’s also a workaholic who proposes untenable work habits.” Musk once said:
If other people are putting in 40 hour workweeks and you’re putting in 100 hour workweeks, then even if you’re doing the same thing … you will achieve in four months what it takes them a year to achieve.
Hyatt agrees that’s great advice…for a robot! He goes on:
In survey after survey, Americans say that they are overworked and struggling to get any sort of clarity about what they ought to be doing better. It’s a damaging situation, and the last thing we need is encouragement to drive even harder.
Overworking like Musk recommends costs us in three primary areas: our relationships, our health, and our productivity. If you want scary proof of what it’s cost Musk and others, read the rest of Hyatt’s article here.
Calvin the Multi-Tasker
One of my greatest frustrations is the way we often hold up Christian ministers and missionaries from the past as models of how long we should work, study, pray, etc. “Spurgeon preached an average of 932 times a week….Luther prayed eight days a week…and so on.” What we’re never told is how often they died young, or lived with serious ill-health, or sometimes had tragic marriages and messed up kids. Thankfully, Kevin DeYoung’s 15 Lessons From Calvin’s Biography provides some rare balance. His fourteenth lesson is “Work hard, but don’t neglect the body. Calvin’s punishing routine and recurring illnesses aged him and put him in an early grave.”
The Second Most Important Question in the World
If the most important question in the world is “Who is God?” the second most important question is “Who am I?” It’s that important because our answer to the question has such a massive influence on our whole lives: our self-image, our view of the past, present and future, our relationships, our confidence or shame, our spirituality, our ethics, and so much more. Over recent years, I’ve increasingly noticed how many counseling problems are rooted in a false sense of identity. In an honest and transparent post, Digging Deeper: Who am I? Kate Doezema reveals how God has been teaching her about who she is and discusses the surprising effects of this in helping her pursue holiness:
It is important that I know who I am at center. When I peel away all the lies and deceits the devil has worked so hard to have me believe about what I need and what will make me feel better/ happy, when I look beyond all that, I see a little seed which God has instilled in me when He regenerated me….
Who am I? By the grace of God, I am His child, who has a new man at center which does not sin. I strive to live out of my new man and put away the old. I no longer fill my time on earth feeding my fleshly desires. I do not indulge in the movies, concerts, and entertainments of this world, filling my mind with things of this earth. I will be as God calls me in 1 Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Self Care for the Suffering
Spiritual battles take a toll, especially battles against deep-seated injustices such as racism. At the Reformed African American Network, Branden Henry points to Jesus to highlight the need to “frequently break away from ministry to engage in a time of restoration with the Father.” He therefore argues that “Retreating for a time of rest is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of wisdom,” and then provides biblical instruction for self-care, along with eight practical strategies to use during times of stress. Notice especially his explanation of a “timeout.”
It takes your brain and body about 20 minutes of doing something else to flush out all the stress-induced chemicals. During this time, I would encourage you to drink a pint of water, as dehydration can often look like anxiety. You need to be doing something that is relatively distracting, but not taxing (like Twitter). For instance, I like to shoot hoops when I get a chance as it takes my mind off what was stressing me, but is not so overwhelming that I become absorbed in it or triggered by it.
Want to discuss these articles further or share your own experience and advice? Join me tomorrow (Friday, 1pm ET) for a Facebook Live at my Facebook page.