It used to be called "fatigue" or "stress" or just plain "overwork." But now it has become more respectable and gained a name of its own: "burnout." Not to suffer from "burnout" is a decision we can make.
To deal effectively with it, we might begin by getting a better concept of work and reward. Strong doses of what the Bible teaches in this regard can provide us with a healthier perspective on our work.
We all need income of some sort. In a beautiful New Testament metaphor, Christ Jesus explains to his listeners the certainty that God meets our needs. "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow," he says; "they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." n1
n1 Matthew 6:28, 29.
Of course, what Jesus says in no way removes the necessity of working, but only the drudgery. Once we learn to trust God and His provision for us, then we can pursue our work with real enjoyment, rather than fear of not having ends meet. And in so doing we remove some of the seeds of "burnout."
It is important to understand what man is. He is not a mortal creation of nerves and blood but the spiritual expression of God, divine Mind. Mary Baker Eddy n2 puts it simply: "God is the parent Mind, and man is God's spiritual offspring." n3 Neither fatigue nor anxiety touches man's character, for they are not of God nor inherent in His creation. They are false products of the material sense of man.
n2 Mrs. Eddy is the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science.
n3 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,m p. 336.
There is usually room in everyone's work to unload some responsibility. We can place it on even larger shoulders than ours -- God's. "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee," n4 says the Bible.
n4 Psalms 55:22.
We all do have individual talents we alone can bring to our work. We have roles we alone can fill. But God remains at the bottom line. Energy, strength, intelligence, vision, accomplishment -- all have their source in God and find expression eternally in man.
When we repeatedly put distance between what we are doing in our work and God -- that is, when we fail to acknowledge Him as the ultimate source of all worthwhile action -- we fail to live our true, spiritual identity, but lapse into pressure or fear or arrogance. However, when we become conscious of God as the infinite, divine Principle of all true being, we don't stagger under the weight of the need to accomplish. We work and progress not necessarily according to our plan but according to God's.
The material rewards of work can loom pretty large. More money. Power. Status. But the Bible terms such things "vanities." A character in one of Jesus' parables found out the hard way. Evidently he was so successful in his business that he needed to build larger and larger barns. Finally the futility of reaching for more and more of something quite apart from God (and strictly material in nature) caught up with him. "God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?" n5
n5 Luke 12:20.
Jesus' famous demand, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you," n6 is the key. Seeking God and obeying His direction is restful and lively, a constant requirement and a peaceful joy. When we follow such a course, "burnout" can never be the effect.
n6 Matt. 6:33.
DAILY BIBLE VERSE He that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. Galatians 6:8