Burnout seems to start with me and with my own sin, honestly, the sin of thinking I am necessary. It seems that as I repent of my sin (Psalm 51), the prescription for getting back on track is hidden within Psalm 50.
Sacrifice thank offerings.
Then obey. Then call on God. But first and foremost, honor God with thanks, because He is my Shepherd, the one who saves me and the one who saves those that I care about.
Having a thankful heart reorients me to who God is and who I am in Him. It’s hard to be self-righteous, proud of what I have done when God is the give-er of all that I have. It’s hard to maintain a frenetic pace of saving the world without taking rest when I remember that God alone can redeem (Psalm 49).
In Psalm 50, God basically says, “Your sacrifices are OK, but you wouldn’t have a cow to offer me if I didn’t give it to you. All of the world is mine, and I let you borrow it in order to bless me.” (verses 9-13)
The only thing that we can offer that is truly a sacrifice is our thanks, acknowledging God as our shepherd and provider. God gives us our strength, our finances, our time, the things that we might ordinarily offer to him. But He refuses to coopt our heart – He wants us to give that to Him freely.
Diagnosing the issue is one thing. But I honestly don’t know how to cultivate this thankful heart; too many “elder brother” years, I guess. However, I’ve learned enough to know that I need a shepherd, One to show me the way to thankfulness. I also know that fully repenting of my pride, of my “necessary-ness” will not happen overnight.
But here are steps that I am taking: Regular sabbath is part of repentance. Taking a monthly day away to be with the Lord (and having Diane do the same) is an act of repentance. Setting up a third cell-line so that I can be “off” from email and texts from church on Friday and Saturday, and be present to my kids, is an act of repentance. Practicing God’s presence each hour, remembering His primacy in my life is an act of repentance. Learning to say no (remembering my that I am not necessary), is an act of repentance.
And as I turn from self, I know I will see God. Seeing God will bring thankfulness. Then my obedience will flow from a heart that honors God. And I think joy in the margins will return.