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Burning out?

"For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." Ephesians 2. 10

Why is it that my mind turns to work on my day-off? Maybe it's all part of the cycle of relaxation: putting one's feet up releasing the reflective juices...

Recently I was advised that the antidote to burn-out is doing what makes you fully alive. Now why is that? One might assume that doing what makes you fully alive would induce burn-out because isn't that what "driven" people do? Not necessarily. People can be driven by various things: guilt, greed, ambition... And any of these would very likely lead to one form of illness or another. Doing what makes you fully alive is altogether different.

From the faith perspective, we are all made for a purpose and equipped accordingly. That is the gist of the quotation above, in a letter the apostle Paul wrote to the church he planted at Ephesus. For those of working age, in normal circumstances, we spend more time on our jobs than on anything else. So it stands to reason that, if our jobs are in line with God's purposes, we should flourish and, if they are not, watch out!

Inevitably it's not as simple as that. Some people don't have a choice, others don't have a clue (what their purpose and gifting might be). Yet these are the exceptions that prove the rule: the way to avoid burn-out is to do what makes you fully alive; and not just to avoid burn-out but to be faithful and to enjoy life. It's a no-brainer!

Time for another day-off, to reflect on what makes one fully alive, which is to say: how did God make me, with which skills and gifts has he equipped me, what opportunities or challenges has he laid before me - and why? You could address this personally in your quiet time. But it may be helpful to enlist the help of a trusted friend, elder or minister.

Jesus is your Saviour and Lord. The Holy Spirit is your companion and provider. God the Father made you and loves you. And we are God's masterpiece - we have that on the authority of the Bible, no less.

In the introduction to his book on Prayer, Richard Foster tells the story of a monk who approaches his abbot for advice. Humbly he accounts for his diligence in observing all the rules of his Order. Looking up, the abbot raises his hands and his fingers become like tongues of flame and he says to the monk: "Why not be totally transformed into fire!"

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