Q: How can I have longevity in the ministry without becoming “burned out?”
A: There is only one way you can maintain longevity in the ministry without feeling “burned out,” and it’s directly related to your time with the Lord. Spending time with the Lord is the only way to prevent yourself from becoming burned out in the ministry (or in any profession), in your relationships, or just in life.
During my time with the Lord this morning, I was reminded of Luke 10. In this chapter, Martha welcomed Jesus into her home. While Martha was anxious about preparing food to serve Jesus, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him speak. Noticing this, Martha approached the Lord and said, “…‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me’” (v. 40). And Jesus replied, “…‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her’” (v. 41,42).
When people teach Luke 10, most say, “Oh, Mary, she is the precious one and Martha is the anxious one.” But I don’t see it like that at all. If you look at verse 39, it indicates that Martha, at one point, did sit at the feet of Jesus. It says, “And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.” So Martha sat at the feet of Jesus. But because of life — and life happens to us all — cares, problems, and situations come. These issues of life come to all of us — we can get anxious, distracted, and therefore burned out. The only answer to this problem is found in what Jesus says to Martha in verse 41. He gave her an invitation when He said to her, in effect, “Come here, Martha! Put the potatoes down. Your favorite fig recipe will be okay. Sit down for just a minute. You only need one thing, and that one thing is ME.”
As I was thinking about this story this morning, I realized, All I need is to hear from Him! When you hear from Him, you won’t get burned out because your actions will come from a place of receiving from Him. If you do get burned out, it’s usually because you’re doing too much yourself. But if you stay in that place of hearing from the Lord, you are drawing from an eternal source!
There’s another wonderful passage on this topic of becoming “burned out” in Matthew 11:28-30, in which Jesus says, “‘Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Notice Jesus doesn’t say, “Well, I’m burdened down. I’m going to burn out!” He says, “My yoke is easy.” So if you’re burdened down, that is something you’ve taken on yourself because the Bible says His yoke is easy and His burden is light. That is how Jesus wants life to be like for you! Longevity in the ministry, or in any area of life, comes back to drawing from the Source, Jesus Christ.