If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. (John 15:6)
It seems simple enough. If we want to bear fruit then we should remain in Christ. To remain means to abide with Him, to stay with Him, to live life with Him, to take all that we do and think and say, all our relations and responsibilities and expectations, all of everything we have and think and do, and bring them to Christ, and to bring Christ to them.
If we do not do this, however, we burnout. Here Christ used an agricultural example of what farmers do – they burn away the useless parts of plants at harvest. A branch that does not bear fruit, the vintner cuts off. It dries out in the ditch until it must be gotten out of the way. Then it is tossed into the fire.
A couple of years ago I wrote a book “Burnout: Causes and Recovery” with the subtitle “Rediscovering the Joy of Ministry.” If you are dealing with burnout I recommend it to you. It is available on amazon. In it I identified seven main symptoms of burnout for ministers:
- Frustration in being unable to change our circumstances in life
- A false sense of self-importance, feeling that we are irreplaceable
- A sense of being unappreciated by others
- A sense of disappointment in God, that He had not done what we had expected Him to do
- A feeling of being overwhelmed, of having too much to do – unrelenting responsibilities
- A sense of being isolated and alone
- The death of those dreams and hope we had earlier held of being able to make a difference for God
These traits were seen in the lives of both Moses and Elijah – two great men of God. Moses exploded in anger (Numbers 20) and Elijah imploded in fear and defeat (1 Kings 19), but both were dealing with the same inner problem.
Perhaps you feel similar today. Take some time to speak with Christ about your feelings. Let Him remind you that you are not alone, that He is with you. Let Him refresh and renew your excitement for service and for knowing Him. We all need to learn the discipline of constant dependence on Christ’s strength. Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21), and because he could say that he could also say:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor. 4:16-18)