Stop Holding Your Breath

If you are involved in ministry in any capacity, you have certainly heard about burnout.  We work or serve others because God calls us to and many of us have a desire to serve and build significant relationships for the sake of the kingdom of God. I have seen people who had an ardent desire to serve the kingdom end up burning out due to a lack of honoring the Sabbath, which allows you to remember that God is in control – not you.

When I started working at Cup of Cool Water, I appreciated that there were mechanisms set in place that helped prevent this phenomena like mental health and sick days. But I have realized that in this last season of my life, I have not been dealing well with managing my spiritual health and, as a consequence, have come dangerously close to burning out. I found that it was natural for me to try to stifle any kind of emotion I had at the end of a work day because I have been working with people that have severe emotional needs on a daily basis. This in turn affected my family and has led me to seriously consider my daily and weekly rhythms. What is it that can truly prevent burnout? How can I trust that Cup of Cool Water is God’s ministry and learn to step aside?

I believe in this next season I need to integrate a weekly Sabbath and learn to slow down enough to be able to connect with my wife and others. I have also realized that I often suppress my emotions and as I do this I actually feel an emotional bloating. I end up feeling like I am holding my breath. I need to learn to breath and trust that God is in control. This can also look like sharing with others whom we love and trust, learning to release the things we are brooding over.

In essence, I believe in this season of my life, I want to practice the spiritual discipline of simplicity. To give you an idea of what I mean by this I will quote an excerpt from The Rule of Taize by Brother Roger Shultz:

“Your availability calls for a continual simplification of your way of life, not by constraint but by faith.

Flee the complications through which the tempter seeks you. Throw aside all pointless burdens, the better to bring to Christ your Lord those of your sisters and brothers.

In the transparency of brotherly love, acknowledge your mistakes simply, never using them as a pretext for pointing out those of others. Wherever they are, brothers should practice brief and frequent sharing with each other.

Simplicity is also loyalty towards oneself as a way of attaining transparency. It opens a way towards one’s neighbor. Simplicity is found in the free joy of a brother who gives up being obsessed by his own progress and failures, in order to keep his eyes fixed on the light of Christ.” 

I want to continue to work with youth who are homeless well, by letting Christ do his saving work. I need to come humbly knowing that Jesus is using me to do this work, but the only way I can be effective is learning to fix my eyes on the light of Christ and integrating rhythms that keep me healthy through self care in community. I hope this is helpful for those who are involved in ministry and even for those who are not!