Guarding Against Burnout
March 1, 2003 - In what way are you serving God inside or outside of your home? Have you ever been so emotionally spent, so spiritually depleted, so physically tired, that you felt you could not continue in that service for one more moment? Even now, are you in danger of "burning out"?
by Anne Graham Lotz
Elijah is referred to more often in the New Testament than any other Old Testament prophet, and he appeared with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. Malachi prophesied that Elijah would thunder onto the world scene immediately preceding the coming of Jesus Christ. Without question, Elijah was one of the greatest of the prophets, yet at one point in his service he suffered from burnout.
Read 1 Kings 17:1-10, 1 Kings 18:1-46 and 1 Kings 19:1-21.
The Signs of Burnout
- From 1 Kings 17:1, what can be concluded about Elijah's occupation or position?
Intense Service That Was Faithful to God
- What evidence of Elijah's obedience do you find in 1 Kings 17:2-5? 17:8-10? 18:1-2?
- What evidence of Elijah's dependence do you find in 1 Kings 18:30-37?
- What evidence of Elijah's expectance do you find in 1 Kings 18:41-45?
- What evidence of obedience, dependence and expectance can be found in your service to God?
Intense Service That Was Faulted by Others
- In 1 Kings 19:1-2, what was the official response of the leadership to Elijah's service?
- How have others reacted and responded to your faithful service?
- List as many phrases as you can from 1 Kings 18 that
reveal Elijah's courage.
- What was his reaction to the criticism and faultfinding
of others in 1 Kings 19:3?
- What are you afraid of in service? How have you given in to your fears?
- How did fear lead to faithlessness? Carefully read 1 Kings 19:4.
- What do you think were some of Elijah's thoughts that caused him to feel that his service to God was not worth the risk?
- Have you ever considered resigning from ministry? Why?
- In what way are you so discouraged that you have lapsed into self-pity?
The Solutions to Burnout
What solutions have you sought for burnout? Ask God to open your heart to receive the following solutions.
- What was the very first thing God did to encourage His worn-out, burned-out servant in 1 Kings 19:5-6?
- What was the second thing?
- The third thing?
- How can you apply this to your situation?
- What do you learn from the way God dealt with Elijah
- What did God do for Elijah that was beyond human ability in 1 Kings 19:5, 7?
- When have you asked God for a fresh touch of His Spirit in your life?
- Do you think Elijah could have recovered without the fresh touch from God?
- From Elijah's answer in 1 Kings 19:10, what do you think God was seeking to do by asking the question in verse 9?
- In 1 Kings 19:11-12, what two attributes of His nature did God dramatize to help Elijah overcome his fears?
- God repeated His question of 1 Kings 19:9 in 1 Kings 19:13. What was God trying to get Elijah to confront?
- How did God's answer in 1 Kings 19:15-18 help Elijah to overcome his faithlessness?
- What do you do and to whom do you go for spiritual encouragement?
- What did God tell Elijah to do in 1 Kings 19:15-16?
- From 1 Kings 19:17-18, how did God, even in His recall of Elijah, continue to encourage him?
- Did God give Elijah any assurance that he would not be criticized or threatened again—that this time his service would be easier?
- How would this give Elijah a deep conviction of his calling to serve?
- If you have felt burned out, would you ask God to recall you into service?
- From 1 Kings 19:19, how long did Elijah apparently wait before answering God's call?
- How prompt are you in carrying out what God has called you to do?
- How did God provide for Elijah's reinforcement in 1 Kings 19:16?
- When Jesus sent out His disciples, what is implied by the way their names are listed in Matthew 10:2-4?
- What visible person has God provided to reinforce you in service?
- What invisible Person has He provided for you according to John 14:15-17?
- Will you ask God to provide you with an earthly, visible companion in service?
- Will you be willing to be that reinforcement to someone else in service—a spouse, a pastor or a Sunday school teacher?
Would you open your heart to receive God's solutions and make yourself available to be recalled into service?