ON BEING A SPIRITUAL "MOTEL 6"
I admit to somewhat conflicting views on "burnout", for believers who are actively serving God.
The first viewpoint is that folks do, after a while, get burned out after a long time of doing whatever it is they're doing. I know we all need occasional times away, but I think those should be pretty well covered by vacations.
However .. I'm not sure the "hurry up and do as much as you can in a week" sort of vacation does a lot of good ... how many times have you heard someone say they had to get back to the office, after their vacation, to "get some rest"?
Yup .. me too.
Perhaps it is that folks do get "burned out" in their jobs, but I spent 50 years in insurance and never felt that way at all.
The other idea, and the one I wanted to touch on, is one put forth by Ken Hemphill in his original Study Course about Spiritual Gifts ... entitled "Serving God .. Discovering and Using Your Spiritual Gifts". In exploring some of the meaning of Moses' encounter with the burning bush, he points out that Christians serving God are a little like the burning bush ... if we're motivated by the fire of God, then we're not consumed by that fire.
I agree with him. In my own case, I have taught Sunday School for a lot of years. For several years, I taught a newly-married couples' course ... I might add that some of those newlyweds now have kids who weren't even here, then, who have now graduated from college. I quit that class to teach High School kids when I found out they didn't have a teacher, and subsequently left that class when the minister of education and I reached, shall we say, an impasse.
I take solace in the fact that he was subsequently dismissed from his employment at the church.
Then from 2000 through most of 2008, I taught a class of 30-somethings; I had to give up that class about halfway through a long series of daily abdominal radiation treatments ... a follow-on to prostate cancer surgery. Those radiation treatments seriously sapped my strength, and had several other unpleasant and debilitating side effects.
But then, last December, some members of my former 30-somethings class asked if I'd be willing to teach again, and we formed a new class and jumped right in about 6 months ago. We meet in the Church's Library room, so we're known as "The Bookworms".
Here's the thing: operating in the teaching role is operating within the giftedness that God saw fit to bestow on me, and I'm actually propelled in it by the Fire of God. Jeremiah said it like this:
"If I say, "I won't mention Him or speak any longer in His name," His message becomes a fire burning in my heart, shut up in my bones. I become tired of holding it in, and I cannot prevail."
You may have noticed the picture above, taken of our home last fall. Although it was taken on a sunny day, the "Dusk-to-Dawn Light" is on.
That's because it's always on.
After going through a couple of bulbs in the first 2 years we lived here, I figured it was during the heating up or cooling down that the lamps failed, so I painted over the electric eye that turns the light on. The next bulb lasted over 22 years, And it was still working when we had siding put on the house, which required them to take down and re-install the light. So I had them replace the bulb with a new one, and it's been there several years itself!
When it comes to serving God, I figure I'm a little like those light bulbs. Staying "on" keeps me energized, fulfilled, and burning. As far as it is possible, I'm going to stay lit.