People are burning out — and fast. The traditional 9 to 5 work routine has all but vanished, and in its place we find technology supposedly streamlining our lives, or is it? Thanks to technology, employers are now able to expect their employees to be accessible 24 hours a day. Now, more people find themselves working on weekends, during holidays, and even vacations. The result: the stress in people’s lives is increasing.
An interesting comparison can be made of the Egyptian Pharaoh who refused to let Israel rest and celebrate the Sabbath. The Egyptian taskmasters knew the best way to keep people in bondage was never to allow them to cease their work and celebrate the Sabbath.
Stress is not just bad news for the workaholic, but its negative impact can spill over and into our personal and spiritual lives as well. Luckily, there are a few ways one can stave off burnout.
Rediscover the Sabbath
Because of life’s increasing demands, people often fall prey to burnout, which is mental collapse caused by overwork. This has not only become prevalent at the workplace, where stress is present. This should not come as a surprise to us since its seems that people in the 21st century do not understand the concept of rest.
The enemy of our soul wants us to run ourselves into the ground with exhaustion just like Egypt’s Pharaoh. He preoccupies us with business so we will not experience God and all His wonders. The only way to combat this is by rediscovering the meaning and importance of the Sabbath.
God has built the need for rest into our DNA. Even if you are not a Jesus, God, or church person, you have a need for rest, so let’s look a little deeper.
Part of the reason for church is the opportunity for us to fellowship with like-minded believers and recall the importance of Christ’s great sacrifice - His death and resurrection for our sins. Humanity was dead in their sin and because Jesus paid our fine on the cross, we have life through Him.
The knowledge of this alone ought to bring us great joy and hope, that God has broken the bonds of sin in our life.
To keep our activities on the Sabbath within that framework, we should come up with things to do which are relaxing to the body, mind, and soul. This may include praying or silently contemplating God’s loving grace and blessings in our life. This could also mean going for a family picnic to enjoy all of God’s creation.
While there is no perfect formula for spending your Sundays, people are encouraged to make God the center of attention every Sabbath. Focus on a wonderfully restful experience, instead of jotting down your to-do list for Monday. The truth is, if you start off a fast and hectic week by slowing down and focusing on God, the week to come will be much smoother.
It’s Okay to Say “No”
Yes, it is difficult to say no to your manager. But, if you want to avoid getting burnt out, you will have to learn to “Just Say “No”. Because someone has a good idea, doesn’t mean you have to act on it. Rather, encourage that person to investigate their idea themselves. It could be that God is calling them to do something special, and they are pushing that task on you. In the end, saying “no” is completely Biblical. Learning to say “no,” especially on a Sunday, will allow you to spend quality time with your family, and follow God’s instructions about keeping the Sabbath.
Discover Who You Are and Your Purpose
Keeping the Sabbath means you will have time to contemplate the deeper issues of your soul, and not dwell on the tasks that need to be delegated at work or a customer’s order that was not fulfilled. First, it is important for you to realize that your life does have a purpose, and you’re not just some random mistake that was caused by happenstance. Like God’s revelation to Jeremiah, you will soon find out God’s purpose and plan for you. One problem is that, all too often, you keep yourself too busy to notice. This is the main reason why so many people wander through life without any clear direction and purpose. Reflecting on the Sabbath helps solve this issue.
Rest in Jesus
Burnout is oftentimes a result of self-reliance. The self-reliant start to see every need as their call, rather than asking for direction and wisdom from God. Instead of taking people to Jesus, they try to be Jesus to everyone. We see this happen in the family setting when parents take on all the responsibility for the success of their children, oftentimes making crucial life-changing decisions for them and not allowing them to take on responsibility for themselves.
“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:10
Work is part of the human calling, it is a portion of our lives that gives us a sense of purpose and meaning. While Christians are expected to be, at times, self-sacrificial, and give beyond themselves, nowhere in the Bible do we find God equating our identity with our work, neither does God command us to work so hard that we burn ourselves out. God granted the Sabbath rest to us because He knew how busy our lives can get. God knew after six days of work man would need a day to rest, and so the Sabbath was given to God’s children as a day to cease and celebrate.