Herbert Freudenberger, an American psychologist, coined the word “Burnout,” just like being overworked. It describes “the consequences of severe stress and high ideals in helping professions.” As a nurse, I can see why there has been a big initiative in hospitals across the nation to prevent burnout and not to overwork nurses and hospital staff.
The physical and emotional toll of caring for people in their worst moments can break anyone. Freudenberger was trying to bring awareness to “helping professions.” Burnout is a danger everyone should look out for. The mom that works 40+ hours and still comes home to care for the kids. The father that works 3 jobs. A student who hasn’t had a chance to look at anything besides a textbook. A Christian that has been patiently following God diligently for years but still hasn’t had that one big prayer answered?
Regardless of where you are in life or what you do, I can assure you there will always be potential for burnout.
I have recently learned that the devil is not limited to distracting you with things like lust and greed. He is also using Godly purposes as a distraction. There have been many times where my unit has been full and offering overtime; I want to help my unit, and seeing it as a financial blessing from God would pick up extra shifts. God was able to use my left and right at work. Praying for patients, encouraging their families, and even talking about Jesus to coworkers. Four to five demanding 12-hour shifts a week and often in a row. Soon my fatigue spilled over into my work, and I started to see myself become unhappy. I was overworking myself into an unhealthy life.
After working 6 straight days, God was able to intervene and show me I was miserable.
I let myself get to the point that all I knew was how to work. I became so miserable with my life outside of work because I could never actually enjoy a day off. My days off… filled with errands, halfheartedly serving at church, and failing attempts to get adequate sleep. Though I still had my daily devotional time, it felt more routine and out of obligation than anything. I was overworking myself and not getting rest. The enemy took what God blessed me with and tried to drown me with work.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain. It is vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved.” – Psalm 127:1-2 ESV
While ambitions, dreams, and goals are blessings from God, they can also be a distraction. Our work for God, our God-given dreams and goals, should never outshine God himself. When was the last time you took in God’s art by enjoying the sunset? Had actual quality time with the spouse God gave you? Laid on a hammock and just took in the beautiful day God made for you? Best of yet, when was the last time you truly spent time with God and not just read through your devotional as you are chugging your coffee in the morning? These are not to be condemning questions but hopefully convicting. Taking the time to enjoy life and getting real rest allows us not to overwork ourselves.
“When I considered all that I had accomplished and what I had labored to achieve, I found everything to be futile and a pursuit of the wind. There was nothing to be gained under the sun.” – Ecclesiastes 2:11 NIV
You see, in the verses before this, Solomon was pursuing all the worldly things he can, anything his “eyes desired” he didn’t deny. His conclusion was it wasn’t worth it. All his accomplishments, all his labor, he found “futile.” The truth is if you spend your whole life working and achieving goals, you’re going to miss out on life. You’re going to miss out on enjoying the blessing and fruits of your labor that God has given you.
Related Post: Enjoy your Life!
Our fulfillment comes from God and only God. We can bombard ourselves with work, goals, and ambitions, but at the end of the day, it will never fulfill you as much as the personal relationship with God that we get to enjoy through Jesus Christ.
“And He said, My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest” – Exodus 33:14 NIV