Overcoming Burnout


The problem: Have you been burning the candle at both ends? Have you ever gotten under so much pressure that your found it difficult to breathe? There was thirty-six hours of work to be done and you only had twenty-four hours to do it. No matter which way your turned, someone was demanding your time, attention, or energy. You just get to the point that you find yourself so tense you can hardly breathe. You just want to scream, "Help!" You are on the edge of either a mental-emotional breakdown or just running away from everyone and everything. You find yourself barreling down the track at 100 miles per hour and can't seem to find the brake peddle. Here is help.   It is called spiritual breathing.

In the natural, physical realm, when someone becomes afraid, he will often hold his breath. Fear and worry causes one to freeze up physically. Fear of not meeting a deadline may cause one to freeze up. Fear of not winning the approval of others has the same effect. Fear keeps many us steaming down the track at 100 miles per hour. We are fearful because we are holding on to something that we may lose. It may be a job, a position, our reputation, a marriage, children or even the right to be right about something. Fear, worry, and feelings of insecurity are a direct result of holding on to anything that may be take away from us. In one sense, whatever we hold on to has a hold on us.

Spiritual breathing:

Therefore, the first step to freedom is to exhale. Exhaling is releasing what we have stored up inside. For someone to take a deep breath, he must first exhale the stale air in his lungs. In spiritual breathing, we must let go and cast all our cares upon God (I Peter 5:7-9). The cares are those things that we are holding on to that we are afraid of losing. The problem is that our cares are idols that keep us from trusting God. We have been trusting self, others, or fate more than trusting God.

To exhale by casting our cares upon God, we must decide to trust God. We must believe that God is able and willing to care for us (Hebrews 11:6). We must also believe that God is working everything together for our good (Romans 8:28) and for His glory (John 9:3). When God met Moses at the burning bush, God told him to cast his shepherd's rod down upon the ground (Exodus 4:3). Moses' rod had come to symbolize everything that he had become. For forty years he had lived as a shepherd. For Moses to cast down his rod upon the ground meant that Moses must cast his occupation and his identity down. The rod became a poisonous snake on the ground. When God told Moses to pick it up by the tail, Moses had to put his entire trust in God. It was a life and death situation. Are you willing to trust God enough to cast all your life (cares) before God?

Once we have exhaled, we must also spiritually inhale. The Word calls the Holy Spirit the breath of God (Job 33:4). I would like to give three applications to this spiritual principle. First, you must receive the spirit of Christ to receive life. Second, you should receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit and daily fillings. Third, you need to receive God's grace for daily living.

On the day of the resurrection of Jesus, he appeared to his disciples in the upper room and said unto them, "Peace be unto you; as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you" (John 20:21). The Father sent Jesus into the world, born of the Holy Spirit. Next, Jesus breathed upon the disciples and said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost" (John 20:22). In essence, everything had been accomplished that Jesus might offer the disciples the rebirth or new life by offering them the Holy Spirit. Jesus had come into the world as the Son of God, lived a perfect life, died on the cross for all our sins, was buried, was resurrected, and ascended into heaven before the Father as a wave offering (John 20:17) on the day of the resurrection. Jesus had offered the peace offering unto the Father. He had completed the preparation for giving salvation to man. The first breath that one must take is the breath of life by receiving the Holy Spirit (spirit of Christ = Romans 8:9). We should understand that the word "spirit" and the word "breath" are the same word.

Some fifty days later, on the day of Pentecost, the Father sent the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-13) to the 120 disciples. This was not that they might receive spiritual life, but that they might receive the fullness of the power of God for living (Acts 1:8). When I was in college, I worked out on weights. Just before I pressed the weights over my head, I would take a long, deep breath to give me more power for lifting. I was alive and breathing before I took the deep breath, but I needed the extra breath for power. We need to inhale of the Holy Spirit that we may have power for witnessing (Luke 11:1-13).

Later in the book of Acts (Acts 4:24-37), the early church prayed again, asking for a fresh, new filling of the Holy Spirit. Breathing is not just something that one does one day, then the breath lasts for years, months, or even days. We must breathe regularly every day or else we become weak and sick. When we inhale fresh air we are rejuvenated and feel a sense of well being. The same is true also in a spiritual sense. We are to seek to continually to be filled with the Holy Spirit every day (Ephesians 5:18). We inhale of the Holy Spirit daily by: (1) spending time in prayer, praise, and worship, (2) reading, studying, memorizing, and meditating upon the Word of God, (3) fellowshipping with other Believers, (4) hearing and obeying God's voice, and (5) sharing our testimony of what God is doing in our lives with others. As regular physical breathing exercises are required for one to maintain good health, so are regular spiritual breathing exercises required for spiritual health.

Application Prayer

Dear God:

I confess that I have tried to take my life into my own hands and have failed. Therefore, I give my life to you and ask the Spirit of Christ to come into my life and give me life.

I acknowledge that I need the power of the Holy Spirit that I may have boldness to be a true witness of Jesus to others. I ask you to baptize me in the fullness of your Holy Spirit according to your Word.

This day, I cast all my cares upon you and ask that you fill me afresh with your Holy Spirit that I may live the Christian life as you would have me to live it.

I commit myself to pray and study your Word daily as you would have me to do so. I commit myself to fellowship with other believers and seek to hear and obey your voice. I purpose to share the testimony of what you are doing in my life with others as the Holy Spirit leads. Amen.

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