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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Dr. Charles Stanley » Charles Stanley - When We Feel Burned Out

Charles Stanley - When We Feel Burned Out

Charles Stanley - When We Feel Burned Out
TOPICS: The Source of My Strength, Burnout, Stress

All of us experience, at times in our life, fatigue and weariness and being a little bit worn out. But, when that fatigue or that weariness develops into a spirit of being discouraged because you can't ever seem to get over it, having the feelings of being exhausted and spent and somehow drained emotionally as well as physically or spiritually, and somehow you just want to walk away or just forget it all, and it doesn't go away and somehow it just keep on continuing no matter what, maybe what you're experiencing is not just simply fatigue but maybe you are experiencing burn out, that sense of being absolutely drained and spent in life. It can happen to saints and sinners alike and it can happen to those who love God with all of their heart and those who don't love Him at all. And it can happen in your job. It can happen in relationships. It can happen in your schooling. It can happen in your spiritual life and your relationship to God.

And that's what I want to talk about in this message entitled: "The Source of Our Strength When Feeling Burned Out". And I want you to turn, if you will, to Isaiah chapter 40, beginning in verse 27. He says, "Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, 'My way is hidden from the LORD, and the justice due me escapes the notice of my God'? Do you not know? And have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, He does not grow weary or become tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might, He increases power. Though young men shall grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, and they will walk and not become weary".

The people of God were asking the Lord, "Now Lord, why it is... You don't seem to care for us? We don't seem to be getting what is coming to us. You're not keeping Your promise". And so, His answer to them is He does keep His promise, He does give what is needed. And here He's speaking of strength and might and power, which was their desire, their request, and their need. When you and I think in terms of being burned out, that can happen, as we said, to most anybody. It can happen to a mother who is raising three, four, or five children and she has all the responsibilities during the day of keeping everything in order and preparing for her husband and keeping the house clean and all the rest and no break, oftentimes, for a long period of time. Or it can happen to the president of a corporation or a pastor.

In fact, there are literally, not hundreds, but thousands and thousands of pastors every year who just walk away from the ministry because they get burned out. Doing the work of God, they get burned out. There are thousands of people who are not pastors but who are engaged in some type of the Lord's work, and they get burned out in their ministry and they walk away. There are always people coming into the ministry and always people going. Many of those who leave, leave because they get burned out, so fatigued, so weary, so worn, so much stress, so many challenges they can't handle it all. And so, they just walk away. Now, at first you may say, "Well, they ought to be stronger than that".

Well, that's true but, you know, if you don't know the truth about some things, some things can be very, very, very destructive in your life. And I can look back at my own life and see when I suffered the same experience. Back in the seventies when I was preaching on Sunday morning just like I do now, but during the week I was doing two other thirty-minute programs. It takes a lot more energy, a lot more power of concentration, a lot more of everything to look down a cold tube and there's nobody there but the man behind the camera in a private room somewhere and speak. It was extremely draining to me. Plus, all the responsibilities of being a pastor. And so, I kept this up for about a year. I went to the hospital three times. Each time I went, I said to the doctor, "I'm not sick. I'm just tired".

So, they give me all these tests and they check my heart and check this and check that and check the other and finally conclude that what I said was true. They said, "Well, why don't you stop doing so much"? I said, "Well, I am". I came back, tried to decide what to stop. Everything was important, everything was a priority, everything was essential, and they couldn't do without me. So, what did I do? I convinced myself I couldn't stop. So, I just kept on doing what I was doing. Go back to the hospital again, same story. Told the doctor the same story. Same conclusion, same exam, same everything. Third time this happened, it happened a little differently.

One of my dearest friends, Dr. Stephen Olford, was visiting us and we had a missions conference, and so, he and his wife, my wife, and I went to the same restaurant we'd gone to three years before. And three years before, he sat there and said to me, he said, "Let me tell you what I've been going through". He'd been through a terrible time in his life. Couldn't preach for over a year and told me all the things that he'd gone through which were just terrible. And I remember saying to myself, "Brother, I'm not going to let that happen to me". Three years later, I'm sitting in this same restaurant, and he said to me, said, "Well, how have you been doing"? I said, "I've been doing fine". My wife said, "Tell him the truth".

So I told him how I felt. He said, "Well, you need to go to the hospital tonight". I said, "There's no way". I said, "You know, you're going to speak tomorrow," and I said, "No, I can't do that". He says, "Tonight". I said, "No". They take me to the hospital, check me in. The next morning he preaches, calls a deacon's meeting and tells them if they want me alive, to give me three months or six months or I'd be dead. He'd already been where I was. And he was observing me from a lot of wisdom and knowing that, at some point, I was going to run out. But I thought I could keep going forever as long as I had God living on the inside of me, which I did. The only problem is, it doesn't make any difference how much you love God and how much you want to serve Him if you're burning out doing what God doesn't want you to do or going about things in the wrong way or whatever it might be in your life.

It isn't going to work. It didn't work for me and it took a year to get over that. Even after that, I noticed that things would drain me quickly. And I'm saying all that to say that God has worked in my life in so many wonderful ways and especially in this past year that God has taught me something that I am so delighted to be able to share because I have more responsibility today than I did then, more going on by far than I did then, more responsibility here and all over the world, and yet I don't feel exhausted, I don't feel tired, I don't feel pressure. And I have enough things on me to pressure most men and to have destroyed many. God has taught me something and is in the process of teaching me something, how to live in the midst of it, to walk above it, and to draw my energy and my strength not from my own self but from Him.

And what I want to do is, I want to share with you what God is in the process of teaching me because I'm telling you, it is one of the most exciting things I have ever learned in all of my almost fifty years of being a Christian. I wouldn't take anything in the world for the troubles, the heartaches, the burdens. And I want to say this: if you'll recall in Romans chapter 8, he says that we are more than conquerors through Christ within us. Now, to be more than a conqueror means that you come out of the battle with more than you took into it. When he says we are overwhelmingly conquerors, that means you come out of the battle with more than you carried into it. And I can tell you that I have been blessed more in the past months than I've ever been blessed in my life, that I'm learning more about God, I'm learning His ways.

You think, "Well, you've been this pastor here for twenty five years and you're just learning some things"? Correct, absolutely correct, and you know what? Twenty-five years from now, you'll be learning some things and you'll be asking the same question. You'll think, "Well, I should have learned that a long time before". Should have. But what happens? Some things we learn and we have to recycle. It's amazing what we forget isn't it? You and I learn some things and we forget them. But then there are those areas of our life where, whereas, we may learn it, He gives us what? He gives us a deeper insight, a greater insight, and then He puts us and allows us in situations and circumstances to be tested to the very ultimate. And that's when what we believe becomes a living, immovable, unchangeable, unalterable, foundational reality in our life that absolutely cannot be shaken by anything.

And so, what I'd like to do in this message is to sort of confine this to our spiritual life, if I might, but it relates to every aspect of our life, but about our spiritual, primarily. And ask the question here from this chapter, and that is, when he said here that He will provide the strength, that young men shall grow weary and worn and stumble and fall. The question is, why do these things happen? Now, why do we get burnt out? Well now, I want you to listen very carefully. And if you'll listen carefully, this'll save you from a whole lot of grief, a whole lot of heartache, a whole lot of mistakes, and sometimes a whole lot of loss.

Listen very carefully. One of the primary reasons we suffer spiritual burn out is, we have a wrong view of the gospel. Now, the gospel is the Lord Jesus Christ coming into our life. And we would say that the gospel is believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and trusting Him as our Savior. And so, a person trusts the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, and they believe in Him. They believe that His death at Calvary atoned for their sins. So, they're saved. But, their idea of the gospel is: not only do you trust the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, but then you join a local church, which is New Testament, of course, and you get baptized and then you get involved in that church.

And here's what happens. Before long, in that church, you begin to realize that that church or that denomination has certain rules and regulations, and there are certain things you are to do and certain things you are not to do. And before long, you realize, after you've been in that church, that everybody in that church doesn't agree that you should always do this and shouldn't do that. And they don't always agree on what you can do and what you can't do. So, before long, you realize that there is a conflict of what is permissible and what's not permissible. And so, what happens is, people join a church, and they discover that the Christian life is a formula, and this formula has certain rules and regulations. The problem is they ought... when they got saved, they already had enough problems already, enough things they were having to deal with.

Now they've got these rules and the regulations and these do's and don'ts and musts and oughts and shoulds. "Well, you must do this, and you must come to that, and you should do that and you should witness and you should read the Bible. You should pray. You should give. You should, ought, must, all these things. Shouldn't do this. Shouldn't go to that place. Shouldn't participate in that". And so, what happens is the image is that the Christian life is a formula of things we do and we do not do. Now, that is absolutely foreign to the New Testament. What happened when you and I were born again is that we received God's life. The new birth is to receive a life we did not possess before our experience of receiving Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.

So now every single believer has God's life living and abiding on the inside of us so that the Christian life, listen carefully, the Christian life is not a formula whereby we follow this and therefore we are saved and we follow these instructions, these rules and regulations. The Christian life is a relationship, a relationship whereby God, who in all of His lovingkindness and forgiveness, reaches down and reconciles us, gets us and reconciles us back to Himself and forgives us of our sin, makes us holy in His sight, and does what relates to us. He says like a vine and a branch. He says, "I have placed you, as the branch, into the vine so that the sap that runs in the vine runs in the branch. And the sap that runs in the branch runs in the stem and produces delicious, luscious, and beautiful grapes".

So, what is it that has the life? It is the vine that has life and Jesus says, "I am the vine". A branch disconnected from the vine? Lay it on a table and it withers and dies. He says we are branches. We've been placed into Christ Jesus. We have the life of God coursing through our very being. Every single child of God is possessed by the very life of God that indwelt the very person of Jesus Christ Himself. Now, remember He says here in this passage, He says, now, even the finest young men who've been trained as athletes, they grow weary, they grow tired and they stumble and they fall. But, He says, there is a way to so live our lives we don't have to get exhausted. We don't have to be drained. We don't have to come to the place where either spiritually, mentally, physically, or any other way we get to the place of being burned out.

And if you'll notice, he says in that passage they can still run but they won't be weary. They can still walk through difficulty and hardship, but they won't faint and lose heart. It doesn't mean life gets easier. It doesn't mean that things all...things change. It means that now we are living out of a source that we did not live out of before. And so, he says in this passage that we have, for example, a source that is available. Now, first of all, we said, the primary problem is a wrong view of the gospel. A second problem is a wrong view of spiritual maturity. If I should ask you, "What is spiritual maturity"? More than likely, if we were real realistic about it, we'd say, "Well, spiritual maturity is coming to the place where you read the Bible every day and you pray every day and you tithe and give more than a tithe every Sunday. And the things that used to bother you no longer bother you. The things that used to tempt you don't tempt you. The things that used to get you frustrated and cause you to lose your temper, that doesn't happen anymore".

And what it sounds like is this: it sounds like that spiritual maturity is coming to the place where you have the flesh under control. You've got your flesh under control. You say it's been crucified. All these things that were popping up, you're able to juggle all the balls easily now. All these things that trouble you, you've got them all in order. Everything is in order and you're just sort of living your life, and you've been able to control those things. Nothing could be further from the truth. And here's the reason why. If you and I had the power to control, suppress, keep everything in order, get the old flesh crucified, and the flesh is that part, listen to this now, the flesh is that part of you and me that absolutely insists on acting independently of the will of God. And all of us have one because all of us have the capacity to sin, all of us are tempted at times in our life for about different things.

And so, we all have to deal with these things. So if a person could get to the place in their life, spiritually mature, where none of those things bothered any more, you know what that means? That means I wouldn't need God! If I can get them all under control, then I don't need Him! Listen, I hate to have to tell you this, but did you realize that you're just as good today as you were the day you were saved and you're not a bit better? "Aw, now wait a minute," you say, "but you don't know what I was like when I was saved". Doesn't make any difference what you were like because all I have to do is take God out of your life and you know what you'll do? You'll act just like you used to act.

Now, don't you have to admit, all of us have to admit that every once in a while, we act like we used to anyway. Amen? Which says that you must not be any better. Because if you'd have gotten better, you wouldn't act that way. And so, you see, what I want you to realize is this: there's not a single verse in the scripture says that you and I can change ourselves. You can't change yourself. The Christian life isn't altering my behavior. The Christian life isn't changing my conduct. The Christian life isn't saying, "Here are the rules. Here are the regulations. This is the way I'm going to conduct myself. This I'm going to omit".

That's not the Christian, that's not what maturity is all about. Maturity is this. Maturity is coming to the place in my life of recognizing that I am a natural human being. I have God living on the inside of me. I can't change my flesh. I can't change this old, this something inside of me that wants to act independently of God. It's been there all of these years. It's acting just like it was when I was a kid. Age has nothing to do with it whatsoever. And so, I can't change that. Can't change the flesh, can't keep everything down and suppressed. Maturity says that I've come to the place in life that I realize I can't change myself but that my responsibility is to rely upon Him and depend upon Him every day for everything, realizing it is not within myself to become or to do or to be better or to become better or to make myself better or to change my conduct, to change my behavior, live up to regulations, live up to rules, be a better person.

My responsibility is to trust Him to do through me what He knows I cannot do. That's what spiritual maturity is. You know what that means? That means every single solitary one of us has the privilege and the capacity, if we're a believer, to be spiritually mature. And you see, a spiritually mature person isn't a person who is eighty years of age and lives at home somewhere and never watches TV, never listens to the radio, never watches television, never reads a magazine, and therefore, absolutely cannot be tempted. That's not what spiritual maturity is all about! Because He never intended for us to change ourselves and improve ourselves. He came, He says, to give us God life in order that God in us would elevate us and make it possible for us to live in and through and above these things we face in life, not in our own strength and energy. Because He knew it was going to run out.

How do I know that? He wouldn't have put that passage in the Bible if it were not true. He says, "Listen, I'm telling you, even the finest of young men, they're going to get weary and tired and worn out". He says the finest trained athletes are going to stumble and fall, you know why? God never made these human bodies, these minds, these spirits of ours to function and to face life as God knows it's going to be in our own strength because He knew our strength was going to run out and we would stumble and fall badly and get burned out.

Now, how do we avoid this whole idea of being burnt out? Well, if you'll notice, he says here, he says, "Yet those who wait for the LORD, they'll gain new strength; mount up with wings like eagles, run and not get tired, and they will walk and not become weary". Well, listen to this promise. He says He will do these things. "They'll gain new strength". They'll be able to do the same work, but they won't get tired, run at the same speed, even faster, and somehow they won't run out.

Now, what is the solution according to what he's saying here? Well, one thing I love about this passage is this: this passage just being in the Bible says to me, "God knows I'm weak". He knows we are weak. He knows we are frail and He knows that you and I will never, listen, listen to this, we'll never learn enough. We'll never get old enough. We'll never get strong enough, we'll never get smart enough that our energy and all that we need for life won't run out. He didn't make us to be sufficient within ourselves. He made us to be sufficient within Himself. And so, he says in this passage, He says even the finest and strongest of young men, He says it's going to run out. But He says, "Here's what I will do". He said, "You will gain new strength".

Now, I want you to look at two words here. If you'll notice, first of all, he says, "Will gain new strength". That word gain, look at that. Gain, the word here is exchange. And you can write in the fly leaf of your Bible, exchange our weakness for His strength. That's what that means. He says they will exchange their weakness and gain new strength. "They will mount up with wings like an eagle, run and not get tired. They will walk," He says, "and and not be weary".

Now, another thing I want you to notice here. When He says they that wait upon the Lord, that word wait means to pause for further instruction, but here's what the word literally means in Hebrew. Here's what it means. It means to braid something. Because you see, braiding means two things become one or three or four things become one. When you and I are braided with God, when we received the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior, we became one with Him. We have the life of God within us. He says those who wait, those who are braided together, those who pause for further instruction, those who are one with Him, he says, they are the ones who will mount up with wings as eagles. They're the ones who'll have the strength and the energy that is tireless.

Now, listen to what he said. He said, concerning God up here in verse 28: "Do you not know? And have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth doesn't become weary or tired". Now, watch this. If I have the life of God within me and I am not to get burned out doing the work of God or living the Christian life or carrying on, whatever it may be. Then, if the source of my strength is God, then if He ever gives out, then I'm going to give out. And what he's saying is this: when you and I tap into His inexhaustible resource of His divine life within us, we're not going to ever give out because He's not going to give out. This is an inexhaustible source of energy and strength and wisdom and knowledge and understanding. It's inexhaustible because it is God.

And as we said in the very beginning, it is a quality of life that is the very life of God Himself. And therefore, if it is God's life, we are walking in His will and tapping into that energy and that strength and that resource, we will never give out. It is flowing in us and flowing through us. And so, when we think about the causes, why we get weary and tired and worn, because it can be sin, it can be our work, it can be relationships, whatever it might be. But something causes it, and whatever it might be that causes it, what we have to ask is, "God, what are You saying to me"? And let me just say this: sometimes to be burned out can be the doorway into life's greatest lessons.

And I can tell you I've learned so many wonderful, exciting things that's so blessing my heart. And I just came back from being away about three weeks, a few days to see my grandchildren and my daughter and her husband in Portland, and then on the cruise. And while I was on the cruise, something wonderful happened. And the Lord must have known I've been thinking about this for quite some time, and for a number of months I've been feelings this sense of freedom and liberty and awesome sense of God's divine power and strength and presence in my life, which I've known for years. But somehow, it's just become more and more real to me personally. Well, one of my friends and I, who is a member of our fellowship, one of our deacons, he was on the cruise.

And so, we slipped up to an area in Ketchikan to watch these eagles. And there was one area there that we could get real close to them. So, we observed them for quite some time and, looking through a long lens, you can see them up close. And so, I watched this eagle put this, he was huge. And sitting up there, just in a perfect place for me to get a shot of him. And so, I kept watching him, and then, all of a sudden, I watched Him just lift his wings like that and sort of step off, as if it were. Just pull his feet up behind him and just begin to soar. And I thought now, "He just sailed off into the air". And I watched him and shot him a few times. For you folks who are nature lovers, I mean with a camera. And I noticed he just opened, he just opened the feathers on his wings, and he just sail.

Now, here's what he didn't do. He wasn't flopping and beating the air trying to go anywhere. And you know what happened? He just sailed, soared, and he just went up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up, up. And I thought about this passage, and I thought, "Oh dear God, how is that eagle flying? He's not batting his wings". You know what he did? He just launched out into an air current and the air current just took him up, up, up. And he just moved from one air current to the other, up, up, up, up, up. And he was soaring over all of us and everything that was going on. Almost like it was energy-less. All he did was just lift his wings out there and he was just soaring. And he'd swoop down and he'd soar and he'd sail.

I thought, "Lord, there's the key". God doesn't want us batting life like this. What does He want us to do? He, He says He is our energy. He's like the wind under your wings and mine and He wants us to soar on what? On His strength, on His energy, on His power. Without the wind, he'd just have to beating the air. And he's just up there soaring around, enjoying his life. He says, young men shall stumble badly, but those who wait upon the Lord, linked in with Him, those who rely upon Him and recognize they're absolutely, totally dependent upon Him for everything, those who, by faith, just say, "Lord, I can't handle this. This is Yours". He is delighted to provide everything I need at that moment to take care of it.
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