Preventing Burnout through Effective Devotions and Quiet Times

Ministry is an outflow of our times with God.

Some people are asked to help serve in the church or some ministry with the thought that it will stimulate them to be closer to God. They are violating the basic nature of ministry (service). Our service must be built on two principles.

Initiating Ministry

Ministry is an outflow of my relationship of God. I start doing things for the Lord because He wants me to do those things. If God is not leading me to do a certain thing, then I must refuse it no matter how dear or persistent the person is that asks me.

If we are not meeting with the Lord and feel prompted to help join in with some ministry, then give yourself at least one week before you make that decision. During that week, first confess your wayward heart, and then rededicate yourself to the Lord. The rest of the week regularly meet with the Lord and seek what He would have for you.

Sustaining Ministry

A good and effective ministry is sustainable through all sorts of trials and obstacles because we stay close to God. Burn–out most often develops because we have stopped meeting with our God. Our strength, joy and love all come from the Lord. Without Him, we would do things from our own strength and reserves. This in the end serves our own purposes rather than God's.

Below is a diagram of the way power is supplied to any person serving the Lord through proper devotional times.

Fruit (ministry) flows out of our time with God.The flame is our devotions. From our time with the Lord, our relationship with the Lord is built up, and we are empowered.

Before we noted two things that came from this time with the Lord (two side circles): Understanding of His will and desire to do His will. But in fact, abiding in Christ bears forth fruit which is more commonly called ministry. This ministry can be purposeful or casual, known or unknown, but it flows from our meetings with God. This fruit takes on many shapes and kinds but all result as a time with God and thus all praise goes to Him.

“But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.” (Psalms 1:2-3).

We need a cushion of devotional times to build a ministry that honors the Lord. Wherever this cushion is not present, then the church imitates the world in its love for power, fame and wealth.

Good devotional times with God, however, unleash a consistent and powerful ministry because it is rooted in the power, purpose and love of God.

Ministry should be an outflow of our intimate relationship with the Lord and should never be thought of as done apart from the Lord. In this way we will not fall into the trap of working because we 'have to.' We are relational-focused, not work-focused.

Rescuing Our Ministry

Some of you no doubt are wondering what to do if the ministry you presently are serving in has not been based on your relationship with God. Should you give it up? Should you resign? These are heartrending questions but very important.

There are at least two responses. Ones response to their relationship with God pretty much predicts what they should do.

1) Steady but slow.

If God has been dealing with our hearts by showing us our sins, this is a sign that God is working with our lives. And if He has really been dealing with our hearts, doesn't this not mean that we are probably more equipped and ready to do His service than any time in the past?

Of course, we are humbled at the sight of our sin. During a recent study on the glory of God, I saw a big rift in my heart. I had been convicted of stealing God's glory. I was so humbled. Could I say anything good about my past service?! Not really. I realized I could no longer truly evaluate my service because it was so lacking.

Does this mean I should step out from any formal service in the church? No. I repented. I turned from my sinful ways. I thought I was beyond this problem, but God revealed my sin to me. In all honesty, my service had always been full of holes. I just couldn't see them. I need Christ. I serve in Christ. My life should properly be a series of times of repentance. This is good. I am growing. God is working in my life.

After repenting, I will not need to overreact by resigning. Indeed we should be ready to resign if the Lord would ask this of us, but this is a process that normally occurs throughout our Christian lives. We should be much more concerned for those who are not going through such times.

2) Give up.

I have seen people suddenly resign from their ministries. If it is done in hast, then it usually means that they are trapped in one of two situations. Unfortunately, it usually means that they have had no one to share with or that they did not want to speak to anyone about their situation.

a) 'I don't care.' They are essentially bored with what they are doing and want a change. It is not centered around God confronting them; it is more like they just want to do something else. This is not a God-directed change. For them, it is only an opportunity. These people should resign. They are still accountable to God, of course. But there are serious problems that need to be worked through.

b) 'I'm not good enough.' These people are listening to the wrong person. They are hearing Satan's voice rather than God's. Of course we are not good enough. We never were good enough. By ourselves we cannot be good enough. This is the heart of the gospel. We are saved by grace - undeserving kindness. The Father in Heaven confronts us by His Spirit, but He always has His arm around us to bring us closer. His purpose is to build up and restore. The evil one is the Accuser; he wants us to feel defeated and step out of ministry. Just like our salvation, our ministry rests on Christ's righteousness not our own. However, we need to be obedient to the Lord.

There are undoubtedly different situations not highlighted above. I would suggest those that really don't care should step down, but those who feel like they are not good enough should hang on. They might need to slow down a bit to spend extra time with God. They need to listen to their heavenly Father more. They should share their difficulty with someone and be accountable. Those that just step down and out usually are not looking for healing. Truly broken people are given faith by the Lord to help them in such crisis times. We all need to share and have people pray with us and be accountable to a faithful brother or sister (if you are a sister).

Let's hear someone share on how God changed them by renewing their personal devotions. Click Next.

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Biblical Foundations for Freedom

By Paul J. Bucknell
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