"Burnout is a process not an event." - Barry A. Farber
Burnout is a problem that many people are dealing with today. Some may think that it is somewhat new however, the subject of personal exhaustion has been around for a long time. Even the Old Testament tells us stories of extreme fatigue. We can also find good advice from the Bible. Here is part of Exodus chapter 18. Even Moses was dealing with the threat of personal exhaustion.
The next day, Moses sat as usual to hear the people's complaints against each other. They were lined up in front of him from morning till evening.  When Moses' father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, "Why are you trying to do all this alone? The people have been standing here all day to get your help."  Moses replied, "Well, the people come to me to seek God's guidance.  When an argument arises, I am the one who settles the case. I inform the people of God's decisions and teach them his laws and instructions."  "This is not good!" his father-in-law exclaimed.  "You're going to wear yourself out and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. Exodus 18:13-18 (New Living Translation)
Burnout does not come on as a flame; it is more like a flicker. Here are four basic stages of burnout:
- Burnout usually starts with some sort of new beginning, like a new job.
- Burnout introduces itself when this new beginning is introduced to realism.
- This realism introduces us to a zapping of our energy and enthusiasm.
- Joy is depleted.
- Chronic exhaustion and fatigue take place. You can’t get enough sleep and rest!
- Apathetic: "I really don’t care!" is a common attitude for those suffering through burnout.
When looking at the story of Moses and the wisdom of Jethro there are several truths about burnout that are revealed in the scripture above. People headed for burnout -
- work from sun-up to sun-down. (verse 13)
- try to do it all alone. (verse 14)
- are very proud in the fact that they are asked to work non-stop. (verse 15)
- like to use the phrase "I am the one!" (verse 16)
- are not aware that this is not good. (verse 17)
- wear themselves out. (verse 18)
Are you headed for burnout?
Are you working at the tasks of your life all alone?
Do you have a problem asking for help?
Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses gave him some good advice later on in Exodus 18 on how to handle exhaustion. Are you willing to follow someone's advice and guard yourself from burnout?