Burnout is not something unique to church leaders. From doctors, to lawyers, to small business owners, to college students, to stay-at-home moms, we all are susceptible of burning out. If more is caught than taught, then maybe we shouldn’t be surprised with the rise of mental illness and burnout that we are not only seeing in pastors, but in our churches as well. Burnout is what happens when we take on more than God has asked of us. Jesus Himself gave us a rhythm to guide us through stressful seasons. He wrapped up a sermon on the futility of worry with a simple application at the end of Matthew chapter 6:
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today,” (Matthew 6:34, NLT).
If you’re a go-getter or self-starter, or if you like to post on instagram about the hustle and grind, this isn’t one of the verses you probably quote or even contemplate deeply. Many of us live as if there were jewels being added to our crowns in heaven that will validate the busy-ness that led to burnout. Your church doesn’t need you running so hard, preaching so often, and working so late that it compromises your emotional health.
Resist the inner cynic in your mind wondering if the answer to all of your stress could really be this simple. This isn’t a philosopher or professor’s advice. This isn’t self help. This is the guidance and instruction of Jesus. To go against it is pride and folly. You’ve been given this set of 24 hours to steward. Tomorrow is God’s responsibility. I would go so far as to say that God hasn’t equipped or called you to handle what may come tomorrow. Consider the implications of this verse in Lamentations:
“Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning,” (Lamentations 3:23, NLT).
Now let me ask you something, if God is all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere at one time, then why do His mercies have to reset daily? Can we infer from this verse a limitation on the mercies of what we thought was an unlimited God? Absolutely not. What we can understand from this passage, however, is that there is an intentional, daily allotment of mercy from God to you that is meant to be fully expended and utilized on all that is today. But, it’s just enough for today. Today’s mercy is for today’s mess. If your world is anything like mine, today often brings more mess than I bargained for. So who am I fooling when I worry about the hypotheticals of tomorrow?
One of my best friends and mentors, Chris Bell, says, “Don’t take on tomorrow’s worries on today’s mercies.” I’ll never forget a sermon he preached on this verse. Chris brought out a sushi roll on stage and ate it piece by piece throughout his message. He told us there’s a reason sushi chefs serve it to you already sliced into bite sized rolles. Can you imagine the mess that would come from trying to eat just half of a sushi roll in one bite? Our lives become unnecessarily messy when we try to “bite off more than we can chew.”
We may find ourselves needlessly battling anxiety and exhaustion when we attempt to handle the worries of tomorrow on today’s mercies. Worry is the antithesis of worship. It robs us of our focus and trust in Jesus. If you learn to follow His lead, He will never lead you into burnout. The tempo for your life is His mercy that daily begins fresh with the rising sun. Just like any good song, tempo sometimes increases and can be hectic, even thrilling. Other songs may slow down and give us a pause for reflection and relaxation. Our day to day life will always have a new cadence. So whatever this day brings, it will be enough. May you find yourself living in sync with His rhythm, enjoying the fullness of His new mercies for you each and every day.