A few days ago I was sitting in the library at our delightful little seminary, working on some things for finals week. Well, that's what I should have been doing. I was actually talking to a friend over a cup of coffee. And at one point in the conversation, I'm sure completely out of left field, I just confessed "I am worn the f out."
It wasn't a lie.
There were signs of burnout a lot sooner than that. When I was out leading worship at a congregation one evening, the pastor asked me what I had been up to lately. I am in school. I work. I have twins. I am sick. I listed things so quickly and casually, that I was almost surprised to see the look of concern on his face. What had been normal to me was extraordinary to others.
This term, Term II in a still unexplainable three term system, has always been the hardest on me. I never seem to be able to get my footing in the start, and then it snowballs from there. Plus it's winter, which just makes things nice and depressing every time you look out the window. I'm robbed of the life-giving experience of turning the pedals over on a bike, which is probably just as well as I wouldn't have time for it anyway.
But this particular term two almost killed me. I loaded up on classes that needed to be done, and the workload was intense on a level I hadn't experienced before. By itself the school workload would have murdered me, but I was still a youth pastor. I was still a husband. I was still a father. Those things were going to require much of me too. And unsurprisingly with about 2 weeks to go, I found myself unable to give any more. I told Sweet Sarah one night "If one more person needs something from me, I'm going to loose it."
What is sick and perverse about our society today is that many of you might have been reading this and thought that I was bragging. Maybe you didn't out loud think I was bragging, perhaps you wouldn't have used that word. But you know it's true if at any point while reading what was written above you thought "Oh yeah? Well that's nothing...here's what I've been up to..." It means you thought we were engaged in some sort of "who can be busier" competition. Trust me, no one wins such a game. Which confuses me as to why we all play anyway...
For as unsurmountable as this term felt, I am here at the end and still breathing. I have a moment to sit at my desk, exhale, and for the love of everything holy read something I choose to read, not what I have to. I've had moments to relax with my boys, to do nothing but goof around with them and listen to their new found laughs (simply the best thing in the world I tell ya!). And in this moment of exhale, in this moment of release in my own life, I want to take a moment to speak to you, especially those of you who are in ministry. Busy-ness is not a virtue. You are not a better person because you do more than the person next to you. You are not holier because you spent more hours on your sermon. You are not closer to God because you go to bed exhausted at night. You are just feeding the lie that we are what we do. We are not what we do. We are whose we are. And I imagine he's deeply disappointed at how little time to exhale we actually give ourselves.
Of course, life comes in seasons, and some seasons are busier than others. There's nothing wrong with enduring a busy season. It gets perverted when it becomes a lifestyle. So I'm going to take this break to live Psalm 46. I'm going to be still for a bit, and expectantly wait for God to show up and tell me how much I've been overdoing it. I'm going to listen to him tell me how much he loves me, even if I got a C in that one class (here's looking at you Greek). I'm going to read the Bible in the hopes to hear the voice of God, not so much to hear the theme of my next sermon. And I hope that I'm going to make a lifestyle of that.
Who's with me?