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Watch 2022 online sermons » Craig Groeschel » Craig Groeschel - Beating Burnout

Craig Groeschel - Beating Burnout


Craig Groeschel - Beating Burnout
Craig Groeschel - Beating Burnout
TOPICS: Peace of Mind

So, if you feel like you're on the edge, and you can't take much more, I want you to know that I actually understand. It's not easy to talk about, not something that I'm proud of, but I've talked openly about it for the past few weeks, that several years ago, I hit a wall, just hit a wall. I didn't see it coming. And for 23 or so years of leading Life Church, and 28 years in ministry, I had never experienced anything like this. I had a very consistent track record of just faithfully serving, taking good care of myself. And every year I'd take on a little bit more, and then a little bit more, and then a little bit more, many of you can relate to this in your own life, and a little bit more and a little bit more. And then one day smack, I just hit a wall, and it became just too much.

So I got some help and I was diagnosed with severe occupational burnout. And so for those of you that feel like the pressure is mounting and you just can't do it all, I wanna tell you that if you feel like you're about to crumble, if you feel like you're about to break, you're not alone. There's so many people that are hurting right now. In fact, according to a 2021 survey of US workers, it was discovered that more than half of workers feel burned out as a result of their job demands. More than half. If you're like normal, more than half of you, just from work alone, feel like you're flirting with burnout. And that's just the easy part of your life. There's so much else. Everywhere we turn, people feel overwhelmed and they feel stressed out, and they feel like they're on the edge of burnout.

And so I wanna talk about it today, and bring some context, and I wanna help you understand that burnout isn't just the results of working long hours. It can be that, but it's so much more. In fact, according to experts, it's a combination of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion from multiple sources, and complicated situations. And my counselor would describe it this way, that burnout is generally a reflection of our inability simply to balance all the competing demands that all of you struggle with. What is it? It's the social pressure, to be there for everyone, and to live up to their expectations and to say, yes, and to be available, and to serve, and to give, and to be positive and to keep up the image, and show everybody how good your life is on social media, even though you feel like you're falling apart in your own circle. It's the financial press.

It's, I gotta pay for this and the kids and all the demands, and I feel like I'm getting more behind financially, and it's all the kids activities on and on and on because we wanna be great parents. And it's not just those who are younger, but some of you are dealing with aging parents, and the complications that go with that. And then there's the health issues, and then there's stressful work environments. And then there's just all the craziness, and division and hatred in the world. And then there's the spiritual guilt, I'm just not good enough. I'm not living up to God's expectations, I'm not living up to my own expectations. And sometimes it feels like it's just too much.

Now what's interesting to me is that if you hurt something else, sometimes people think it's cool. You're break an arm, you come into work or class with a cast on. People like, "Hey, what happened to you? Can I sign your cast"? You break a bone, there's nothing wrong with it, but you break down mentally, and sometimes there's a stigma to it. Aren't you a Christian? Don't you love Jesus? You shouldn't be struggling like that. And when you find yourself maybe tempted to open up, you might say, well, I don't feel like I can handle another thing. A well meaning Christian might say to you, oh, you're just stressed, just pray about it. Just take it to God. Sometimes you wanna say, I'll take you to God, if you say that to me. If you're battling with the feelings of being overwhelmed, you're not alone. And today I wanna show you in scripture a better way. The title of today's message is, Beating Burnout.

So Father, we pray that the power of your Holy Spirit today would do a work in all of our hearts, especially God, those who are hurting. Holy Spirit, be our teacher, be our healer. God, help us to encounter you, and your ways. We pray this in Jesus name. And everybody said. Amen. Amen.


All right, who's a little bit stressed. Raise your hands, raise your hands. Who's feeling a little bit burned out. What I wanna do is I wanna talk about both of these issues today, but I want to help you try to possibly diagnose what you're experiencing. And I wanna talk to you about the difference between stress and burnout. What's the difference? There is a little bit of a difference. Stress is generally short lived, and it's related to a temporary project, or event. If you feel stressed out, you might have a presentation coming up that you're nervous about, or you got a big test coming up that you don't feel prepared for, or you're trying to solve a problem, or you got a new job or you're moving. There's some kind of temporary event, or problem or challenge, and that stress it's temporary.

Burnout on the other hand, is chronic stress that feels never ending. This is when you feel like you just have no relief in sight. This is when you get to the point where you may say, I don't even care anymore, because I don't have anything left on the inside. I feel dead. I feel hopeless on the inside. If you find yourself in one of these two places, stressed or maybe even flirting with burnout, I wanna show you a man of God in the Old Testament, a prophet named Elijah, who experienced the very same feelings you may be experiencing today. This person who loved God, who was a powerhouse for God, he battled with very real anxiety, and depression, and exhaustion, and burnout.

So remember, if you're struggling, that doesn't make you a bad Christian, that makes you human. Elijah, this guy was so close to God, he was a powerhouse of faith. And to give you just a little glimpse of his spiritual resume, he confronted the evil king, Ahab, and told the king, "You're sinning against God". That takes enormous courage. And then he prophesied, because of the evil king's sinfulness, a drought for three years. And then the king decided to throw all his forces to try to kill Elijah, so Elijah went on the run for three years. God miraculously provided bread and meat from ravens. God was with him. God comforted him. God strengthened him. He actually raised a widow's dead son from the grave, he stood down 850 false prophets, called fire from heaven that burned an altered, displaying the goodness, the power and the glory of God. He did all this with his faith in God.

And then one day king Ahab's wife, named Jezebel basically said, "Honey, if you can't get it done, I'm gonna do this job myself". And she said to Elijah, "By this time tomorrow, mark my words, you will be dead". I want you to think about Elijah for a moment. This guy experienced the nonstop protection from God, the ever present provision of God, the beautiful and glorious presence of God, the almighty power of God. And he stood down 850 men, then one really irritated woman made a threat, and he fell apart. And I get it, because it's amazing what you can endure. Someone criticizes you, your kids cause you a problem, you're dealing with stress at work, you're financially feeling pressure, you get news of a bad health report, and you handle it, and you handle it, and you handle it, until there's one thing too many, and you fall apart. And all she did was make a threat.

What's fascinating is we see no evidence of her doing what her husband did, which was send men to kill him. She just made a threat. There's no army, no mercenaries, no very ferocious ninjas, nothing, just a threat. And he crumbles as we often do, under one of Satan's greatest tools, and that is fear. I no longer have what it takes. I can't handle this. And he falls apart. I'll show you the story and you can possibly, unfortunately maybe see yourself in some of this story.

Scripture says in 1 Kings 19:3, "After Jezebel made this threat, Elijah was afraid," there we see the fear, "and he ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went on a day's journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush and he sat down under it," and watched what he did, he asked God to take his life. "He prayed that he might die". And then he said the very words that you might have said or felt. He said, "I've had enough, Lord, I can't take anymore. This is all I can handle, God. And he prayed to God, take my life. I'm no better than my ancestors". Then he just gave up. "He laid down under the bush and he fell asleep".

Stress and burnout. How do our bodies respond to stress and burnout? According to my studies and the experts, the stress and burnout will also often manifest itself in one of three ways. And I wanna show you these, so you might possibly see them in your own life. The first thing you might see is a physical manifestation in your body because of the stress, because of the weight, because of what you're carrying, you might find yourself easily fatigued. You might be low on energy, and find it really difficult to recover from normal tasks. Those who are battling with burnout, they often find it very difficult to sleep at night. And then this compounds their health issues, they might get headaches or body aches, or literally feel the stress in their body. And then because of muscle pain or other issues, they start to cope in unhealthy ways.

You might change your eating habits, and you start comfort eating or going to sugar, or you find yourself abusing alcohol, or prescription medicine, or any type of drugs just to cope. You've got physical manifestations that find themselves complicating themselves, and compounding in negative ways. You'll also see that there's mental implications from stress and burnout as well. And what happens when we experience ongoing stress, two things happen in our brain. The first thing that happens is our amygdala enlarges. And the second thing is the prefrontal cortex tends to weaken. What is the amygdala? It's the little almond shaped part of your brain that God gave us, that alarms us whenever trouble is there. It's the fight or the flight part of us.

And when we find ourselves consistently stressed, then we're more vulnerable to fear, and we feel more desperate, and we have this ongoing state of compounding anxiety. But it also weakens the prefrontal cortex, that's the part of the brain that helps you make decisions. And all of a sudden, when you used to be confident and very decisive, you find yourself unable to make some of the most simple decisions around. You might even battle with a loss of memory, or find it very difficult to focus. You may have some physical issues, you may have some mental issues, and then finally you may have some emotional issues as you battle with stress, and anxiety, and burnout. You might just feel not very motivated.

And a lot of people who are in this state, they have a total loss of self-confidence, and a chronic feeling of self doubt. They feel like, I'm a failure. I don't have what it takes. I'm not good enough. And you start to feel isolated, you feel alone and just generally miserable. I don't like anything. I don't like my job. I don't like my marriage. I don't like my kids. I don't like my life. And then you might slip into cynicism, and you might become bitter. And what often happens, if you're a person of faith, is you feel disconnected from God, and sometimes you even start to blame God. God, how did you let me get here? I can't take it anymore. And these are some of the symptoms that I was experiencing, when physically I was still performing well, getting my job done.

Honestly, treating my family well, not missing any kind of family obligations, but mentally and emotionally, it just became too much. And I even wondered how transparent I should be, but I figure in today's age, we might as well just go there, 'cause we need each other, and hopefully you can love me, not just as a pastor, but as a person. And I went through a two week period, and Amy could tell you about it, where I got everything done, but I had no memory of what happened in those two weeks. And I told Amy and I told my counselor, we were working together. I just said, this wasn't true, but what I said, this is what I felt was, no one understands the pressure, it's just too much. There is no end, and I said, I will hurt until the day I die, or until this job kills me, which will probably come first. And that's when we raise the alarm to start becoming more serious. Because at that moment, that's what I believed.

So how do we get there? How do we get there? Hopefully you're not there, but if you're not careful, you may be on the way there. How do we get there? I made some of the same mistakes that Elijah made, and chances are pretty good you're making some of those same mistakes as well. And I wanna show you three of them in the text that really describe some of the most common problems that we're experiencing today.

Number one, big mistake, is we run ourselves into the ground. You just go, and you go, and you go, and you go, and you go, and we run ourselves completely into the ground. And I'll show you how Elijah did this in verse three. Scripture said he was afraid and he ran for his life. He was afraid and so he ran. Now, if you're reading this, without knowing a lot about geography, it may not mean much to you, but where did he run from, and where did he run to? He actually ran to Beersheba. And I wanna show you on a map that he couldn't have run any farther. He ran from the top of this map, all the way down to the southernmost place, over a hundred miles, like four marathons. This guy ran and ran and ran and ran. And he literally ran himself into the ground, just like you if you're a college student going, I gotta make good grades.

I gotta work a full-time job, and I gotta make sure I don't get so much debt, and I gotta live up to everyone's expectations. I gotta be in a sorority or a fraternity, or play my sport, or you gotta be the perfect mom. You gotta be the perfect dad. And you gotta provide for the family, and you gotta be at every single event, and you gotta live up to everyone's expectations. You gotta say yes, and you gotta be there, and you gotta get in there, and you can't give up and you can't show weakness, and you gotta be strong. Or you gotta be a pastor who's saving the world, while neglecting your own emotional needs. And over and over and over again, we make the same mistake, we run ourselves into the ground.

The second mistake that we often make is, we try to do it all on our own. We don't let other people in. We try to make it without being honest about where we're vulnerable or asking for help. And we see Elijah do this. He made an incredible mistake, verse three, when he came to Beersheba in Judah, what did he do? He left his servant there. He left his wing man. He left his most trusted and intimate friend, and he went on trying to do battle alone, which honestly, and I wanna talk to my good friends online, that's where some of you are right now.

Like when COVID hit, your form of church community became watching a message online, and thank God for that. But if you have limited Christian community, no life group support, we are incredibly vulnerable without each other. Iron sharpening iron, praying for and loving one another in the body of Christ. The church of God is not just watching a video, the church of God is the people of God interacting with the people of God, and doing the work of God. And when you try to do it on your own, you think I can't tell anybody else, I can't let 'em in. And the devil starts to whisper to you, if you told them they wouldn't like you. So you feel embarrassed, and you're too proud to ask for help. And what do you do? You run yourself into the ground, and you try to do it all on your own.

And then number three, we tend to dwell on the negative. There may be a lot of good, but all we see is what's wrong. And that's what Elijah does. He said, I've had enough. I failed. And in verse four, he says, "Take my life, I'm no better than my ancestors". What's he doing? He's looking at those who've gone before him. I thought I'd do more, I thought I'd be better. The very same thing that you might do when you start feeling like a failure, because you compare your life to everybody else. I'll never be happy like them. I'll never be married. I'll never be financially strong. I'll never get it all done. I'll never be happy. I have had enough. Stress becomes burnout, and you think it's not worth it anymore. And what I wanna show you is so personal, and so powerful. And I'm indescribably thankful for this about God, is that in Elijah darkest moment, God came to him.

God came to him in the form of an angel, in the very same way that God may be coming to you today with a word of hope, with a word to build your faith. God initiated. God made the move. God came to him in the form of an angel. And scripture says this, "All at once an angel touched him". Sometimes all you need is one touch from the presence of God. "And the angel said," before I tell you what the angel said, let me tell you what the angel didn't say. The angel didn't say, "Hey, loser. Why you hiding under that bush? You're afraid of Jezi? What's your problem". Angel didn't say, "It's a prayer problem. If you had prayed more, you wouldn't be here". The angel didn't say it's a sin problem. If you had sin less, you wouldn't be here. No, the angel of God is practical. Practical. "And the angel says to him, 'Get up and eat.'"

Have a snack, grab a bagel. "And Elijah looked around," scripture says, "he looked around and there by his head with some bread, baked over hot coals and a jar of water, and he ate and drank. And then he lay down again". The angel said, "Get up and eat". Take care of yourself physically, and after Elijah did that, he took another nap, proving that sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do, is rest. The Sabbath. Time off. Eat a donut and take a nap. Or eat a protein bar, a gluten free non GMO protein bar. Or drink a matcha tea, green tea and avocado toast, whatever your vibe is, and then take a nap. And the moment you start to do that, your spiritual enemy's gonna whisper to you, you can't afford to do that. You can't take time. You're too important to, you have to be there. And you start to experience this false guilt in your mind, I'm letting everyone down. And I would say to you, don't let your mind bully your body.

Don't let false guilt talk you out of what God commanded, one of his top Ten Commandments is to rest. And so let me say to you, one of the most spiritual things you may do is take a break, take a day off, take a week off, be still and know that he is God. Some of you, listen, prophetically you need a break. You need rest. And some of you, you need more than rest, or you need rest in a different way than you think you need rest. Let me try to explain it to you. For me, I always thought that a little time off in the future would be enough. And when I would take time off, it wouldn't be enough. In fact, in many ways it would be worse, because when I came back to work, I came back with me, and I was still the problem. And time off didn't solve the problem, it actually exasperated the problem, because I felt like that would be the solution.

And so I worked with my counselor, and he asked me a question one time, and it's really hard for me to answer. He said, Craig, what do you need? What do you need? And I'm a pretty simple person. I thought, well, I need like, this is how I answer, I need food and I need rest. Sleep, that's what I need. He said, no, you need more than that. What else do you need? And I literally couldn't think of it. Like, if you're talking about real needs, what do you need? And he said, what else do you need? And so I said, well, technically I know I probably don't need Amy to survive, but if you're pushing for a third, can I put her on the list as number three? Like I need Amy. He said, yeah, you can do that. What else do you need? And I couldn't think of anything else. And he said, you need to be refilled. But that's different. He said, here's your problem. He said, you're not just tired. If you were tired, you could take a nap, but what you are is you are empty. You're depleted. If you were tired, you could take a nap, but because you're depleted, he said, you need to be refilled.

So my counselor gave me, what I thought at the time was really dumb advice, paying a lot of money for his dumb advice. And he had me take up some new activities, which I didn't have time for, to disconnect me from the thing that was causing me to sink. And my assignments were very specific, they would be very different than yours. He said, for me they need to be something that's thrilling, has a lot of adrenaline, feels dangerous and something you know nothing about. That was my assignment. And so I started grappling, training in MMA, that I'd never not done this type before. And I started studying to get my private pilot's license. And what I want you to know is like, whenever I'm wrestling someone, who's much better than me, and almost everyone I wrestled with is much better than me. And they show me parts of my body that I've never seen before without a mirror, I am not thinking about you at that point.

And when I was doing my first solo flight, and landing a plane, I wasn't thinking about my next sermon. What it did is it disengaged my mind, and helped me refill. That's how I needed to do it, and that would not be what everyone needs, but you need to determine what you need. Some experts would tell you this. If you work with your mind, like I do all the time, you might wanna disengage your mind and engage your body. And that's what I did. If on the other hand, you work with your body. You know, you're raising kids or cleaning the house, or mowing yards or whatever. You might wanna rest your body and engage your mind. For you, you might want to go to the beach, and read a book or engage in adult conversation.

What do you need? What do you need? What do you need? You might need different rhythms, you might need a different pace, you might need to refill, you might need community, you might need people. What else do you need? My counselor asked me, what else do you need? And again, I kind of drew a blank, and this is really embarrassing but it's really true, he's like, what else do you need? I don't know. What else do you need, pastor? What else do you need, pastor? Starts with G and rhymes with odd. Some of you, let me tell you what you need. You need an encounter with a presence of a holy God. That's what you need. That's what you need. That's what you need. Not just knowledge, but his presence, an encounter. And after a long journey, I'm skipping part of this story, but you can read it all if you want.

"After a long journey to Mount Horeb, the Lord appeared to Elijah, and the Lord said to him, 'Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.' Then a great and a powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord. But the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper".

The wind, and the Lord was not in the wind, the earthquake, and the Lord was not in the earthquake. The fire and the Lord was not in the fire. Earth, wind, and fire, for my 1970s rock friends, and God was not in any of it. Where was God? He wasn't in the extraordinary, He was in the ordinary. God was in the whisper. If you'll be still, and slow down, God may speak to you in the ordinary moments. When you're changing diapers, when you're doing dishes, when you're trying to love that person at work that's really difficult to love, when you're trying to pay the bills. When you're driving from one place to another, and thinking about the goodness of God, he speaks to you. He whispers to you.

If you're overwhelmed by stress or overcome with anxiety, and on the edge of burnout, why does God's voice seem so quiet? Why does he whisper? He whispers because he is always close, because he is always close. Elijah was in the darkness of the cave, and the whisper drew him out. If you're in the darkness of despair, on the edge of the burnout, listen, he may whisper and draw you out. If you feel broken hearted, he'll tell you, I'm close to the broken hearted. If you feel overwhelmed, he says, I save those who are crushed. If you feel hurt, he says, you're not helpless. You feel discouraged. He said, you're never without hope. You say, I feel weak, I feel weak, I can't go on. He says, when you're weak, my strength is made perfect. You may feel alone and he says, you're struck down, but you're not abandoned. I will never leave you, I'll never forsake you.

And Jesus, the Son of God, in the New Testament made an invitation to those of you who feel like there's too much. Reading to you out of The Message Version, which is not a literal translation, it's more of a devotional translation. This is what Jesus said. He asked, "Are you tired? Worn out, burned out on religion". I might say it this way, are you depressed and crushed by anxiety, and sinking into negativity? Have you been hurt, and betrayed and abused, and experienced heartbreaking trauma? Jesus says this to you. He says, "Come to me. Come to me. Get away with me, and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me," Jesus says, "and work with me. Watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you, keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly".

What do you need today? You may need rest. Be still before God. You may need different rhythms. You may need a different type of rest. I promise you, you need Jesus. You need Jesus, an encounter with a presence of a good God who's not just in the extraordinary, but you often find him in the ordinary. He's with you and he's coming to you at this very moment. And sometimes all you need is one touch, one word, and maybe this word is for you. Come. Come. Come to Jesus.

Father, I pray for my church family, I know so many are struggling right now. Holy Spirit help us heal. With nobody looking around, if you're online or at a church campus today, those of you that say, I think God is coming to me. This is a message for me.


Would you lift up your hands right now? Just lift up your hands. Those of you online, just type this, this message is for me. Just type it in the comment section, this message is for me.

Father, I wanna pray for those of you that you're speaking to today. And I wanna thank you, God, that you are the one who's initiating, that you love your children so much, that you are speaking this message to them, inviting them to come to you. Inviting them to find healing, inviting them to find rest. God, help us to depend on you. Help us not to run on our own, to do more than you call us to do, but God, to totally find your rhythms of grace, your strength, and most of all, your presence. God, if our people need counseling, let 'em get counseling. They need to open up, help 'em to open up. They need to slow down, God show 'em, they're the only ones who can make that decision. Help us as we come to Jesus, find your rest.


As you keep praying today, nobody looking around. I know there are many of you that, you're just really unsettled right now, you're hurting. If we had a real transparent spiritual conversation, and I talked about, you know, where are you with God, you might say, I don't know. I don't know. And what I wanna do is I wanna tell you that God is drawing you right now. You may feel it. You may sense it. What is that? That's his goodness. His love. It's his mercy that draws you. Who is Jesus? Jesus is the Son of God. God became flesh in the person of Jesus. The one who never, ever sinned. He was perfect in every way. And because of that, he could become sin for us. He died in our place and God raised him from the dead, God defeated death, hell and the grave so that anyone, and this includes you, it doesn't matter how far God feels, how bad your life is, how desperate you are, anyone who calls on the name of Jesus, your sins would be forgiven, you'd be made new.

And I want you just to listen right now, you may just, you may hear it in your spirit. Jesus is saying, come. Just come, step away from your brokenness, step away from your pain, step away from your self doubts, step away from your sin and just come to him. Just trust him. Don't ask questions. Just say, "I give you my life". Come to him. When you call out on him, God hears your prayers. He forgives you. He moves into your life. You'll never be the same.

Wherever you're watching from today, those who say "I need it, I'm coming. He's reaching out to me, I'm responding. I'm stepping away from my sin, my fears, my hurt, and I'm coming to Jesus. Jesus, take my life. Jesus, I give you my life." That's your prayer today, "today I surrender my life completely to you, Jesus. I give you my life."

Would you lift your hands right now? All over the place, lift them up and say, "yes, that's my prayer, today I surrender my life." As we've got people today at all of our churches saying, yes. Those of you online, just type in the comment section, "Jesus, take my life." Just type that in the comment section, Jesus, take my life. And today in the presence of God, we're all gonna pray. Would you pray out loud? Pray:

Heavenly Father. I surrender. I say, yes. I'm coming to you. Jesus be first. Save me from my sins. Heal me from my hurts. Change my life. Help me to know you. To walk in your ways. To find your spiritual rest. I give my life to you. All of it. Take my life. I surrender. My life is not mine. I give it all to you. Thank you for new life. You have all of mine. In Jesus name I pray.

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