The Need: We all need more guidance.
The Story: If anybody in history had a reason to burn out, it was Jesus.
Your friend has become cynical, distant, and doesn’t seem to care about anything. Everyone labels them as “burned out.” It’s understandable. Stress mounts up. Work is crazy, and masks are uncomfortable. The kids can’t go to school, and the word “quarantine” has become part of the daily vocabulary. Where can one go to find respite?
Many people, including Christians and non-Christians, seek guidance from Jesus. They even used bracelets to remind them during confusing situations to ask themselves – What Would Jesus Do? It’s a valid question. If anybody understands stress, it’s Jesus. So why didn’t He ever burn out?
The Many Stresses of Jesus
Jesus’ Family Stress
Jesus faced stress at every turn. His Father died when he was young (somewhere between age 12 and his late twenties). His half-brothers and sisters probably envied him because of His exceptional knowledge and drive (Luke 2:41-47). And His mother knew who He was and undoubtedly treated him differently than her other children (Luke 1:26-38; 2:17-19; 2:26-33).
Jesus’ Work Stress
Jesus’ ministry was full of stress. He faced ridicule and hatred from people in his hometown who tried to kill him (Luke 4:28-30). People followed him and accused him to destroy his ministry (Luke 6:6-7). He faced hatred from the highly-influential Pharisees, synagogue rulers, and crowds and criticized them for their hypocrisy (Luke 11:37-54; 12:54-56; 13:14-17). Groups bombarded him wherever he went to be healed and to hear him speak (Luke 5:15; 12:1), and He had to escape from people to get time alone (Mark 3:7-10).
Jesus’ Relationship Stress
Jesus’ closest friends never completely understood what Jesus was doing, and their behavior caused many moments of disappointment. They distrusted Jesus (Luke 8:22-25). They exhibited pride and argued (Luke 9:46-48), and they even rebuked some of His actions (Luke 18:15-17).
More astonishing, at the end of His life, all of Jesus’ disciples abandoned Him (Mark 14:43-50), one of His closest friends denied Him (John 13:13:36-38, 18:15-18, 25-27), and another betrayed Him and committed suicide (Matt 26:14-16; 27:3-10; John 13:21-30).
Jesus’ Physical Stress
Authorities arrested and tied up Jesus (John 18:12). They whipped him, tearing open His flesh (John 19:1). Soldiers lacerated his head (John 19:2) and drove nails in His wrists and ankles so He would hang on a cross to suffocate slowly (Matthew 27:32-44).
Jesus’ Spiritual Stress
Probably the most stressful part of the life of Jesus was the amount of spiritual stress he experienced. Tired, starving, and exhausted, Jesus faced temptation with food, power, and prestige at one of the weakest moments of His life (Luke 4:1-13). He cried deeply as his friends suffered (John 11:28-37), and he was exasperated at the thought of being crucified (Matt 26:36-39). But most profoundly, at the final moment of His life, God abandoned Him (Mark 15:33-34).
How is it possible that Jesus did not give up, quit, and leave his friends and family? How did He remain steadfast throughout all of this ordeal?
In short, how did Jesus not burn out?
Reasons Why Jesus Never Burned Out
He Had a Purpose
From day one, Jesus knew His purpose was to do what God called Him to do (John 3:38-40). All his decisions revolved around that purpose. Knowing your purpose provides direction, and without it, we lose motivation, significance, and health, limiting our lives. But Jesus also found purpose in His identity. Jesus claimed to be equal with God (John 5:18; 8:58; 10:30), and His identity was in God. When people find their identity solely in their work, they lose much of their significance and motivation to live once they retire. Our purpose is found not only in what we do but, more importantly, in who we are. And in the case of a Christian – whose we are.
Jesus Had a Plan
Jesus kept a schedule for accomplishing His purpose. Throughout His ministry, Jesus’ decisions often revolved around timing (John 2:1-5; 7:30; 8:20; 13:1; 17:1). In other words, Jesus had a plan for how He would accomplish His purpose. Though we may not know the exact steps, having a strategy to fulfill our purpose keeps us focused and steers us away from concerning ourselves with things that may hinder or delay our goal. As the Proverbs teach, we plot our course, but God determines our steps (Proverbs 16:9).
Jesus prayed fervently. He always prayed (Luke 5:16; 11:1) and did so with passion because nothing was more important than His relationship to the Father. Nowhere is this more evident than in the high priestly prayer he prayed before his arrest and crucifixion (John 17). The apostle Paul calls on Christians to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) not in the sense that the only thing we should ever do is pray but, instead, that we pray without interruption. Like Jesus, keep prayer a priority.
Relating to Jesus
Arguably, Jesus experienced more stress than any other human being. Yet he never faltered, sinned, or burned out. Of course, many would say that was because Jesus had such an intimacy with God. He was, in fact, God in the flesh. So He couldn’t have burned out. I beg to differ. Jesus had every opportunity to fall like we do every day. But He never did, not just because of His relationship with the Father but also because He had a purpose, plan, and a priority of prayer. There is no better guide through burnout and toward contentment than him.
When we find ourselves burning out, we must ask ourselves why. Remember, burnout is a symptom of a deeper issue. Do we lack a purpose? A plan? A priority of prayer? If you’re like me, it’s probably a bit of all three. I’ve burned out before, twice, and I don’t ever want to burn out again. Burnout damages relationships, wrecks your health, and can hinder your faith if you’re not careful. But it can also be beneficial. Burnout told me that I am not living as Christ did, which is reason to be concerned.
Contentment Key: Burnout is God’s reminder to draw closer to Him.
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