I’VE FALLEN AND I DON’T FEEL LIKE GETTING BACK UP!

Beloved, I have had to fight with bouts of depression, wanting to give up and throw in the towel. It seemed the more I pray, the more I preach, the more I teach – the more difficult walking in my calling got. Some, if not most of all my bad decisions were made because I was under pressure and ready to give up; church-pressure, peer-pressure, society-pressure, and sometimes even family-pressure. Everyone has this certain expectation as to how you are supposed to be, how you are supposed to act, talk, look, dress, etc. And when you don’t meet their expectations, then you are talked about, humiliated, and cast to the side. Being a pastor is one of the most rewarding but yet challenging professions there is. To me, it is the most important job in the world. Why? It’s because you are equipping people with the necessary, life-giving, life-changing tools that make this life worth living and preparing them for the life to come. It is important because in the final analysis, only the things you do for and in the name of Christ are going to count. Pastors, have coached people into their God-given purpose. More often than not, the people don’t like fulfilling their purpose, because it makes demands of them that they are not comfortable doing. Leaders, Pastors, who are sincere and passionate about the calling upon their life, don’t look at their “job” as a means of just collecting a “check.” But it is a divine mandate that they go and tell the “Pharaohs” in the lives of people, “Let God’s child go!” “I give up!” are not words that the anointed man/woman of God is supposed to say. Giving up only happens to “other” people, but not the one who teaches, preaches, and lives out God’s word.

Where do you go when you are besieged, stressed and under a boundless deal of pressure? What do you do, when you, yourself are struggling with your own faith but yet you have been called to preach faith? William Ward said, “Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you.”

Pastor, Leader, I want to encourage you! 1st Thessalonians 5:11-14 says, “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up…”
Almost everyone in life at some point has experienced burnout. If I was to attempt to define the term burnout in a very simple way, I would say, exasperated, a strain in coping with the gravities of life, anxiety, and sometimes having panic attacks. I wish that I could wave a wand and make all trouble go away, but that is impossible. Even Jesus said, “In the world you will have trials and tribulation…” (John 16:33). We cannot ignore them, but we can find ways to better cope with them. By no means am I saying this blog will solve burnout and/or depression. I am not speaking as a psychiatrist, but I am speaking as a fellow leader, pastor who like you, am trying to make a difference in someone’s life, and who has had to fight with the spirit of discouragement for most of my ministry. It is real. The one who you thought would serve as your encourager turned out to be the one to discourage you. I have wanted to end my life and not go any further.
There are so many within the body of Christ that experience giving up and burnout daily. There are many in the Bible that God used, which experienced discouragement while trying to do what God called them to do. I would like for you to look at the story of one of the world’s greatest prophets, leaders who had to deal with burnout, discouragement. I believe this story gives you, me, and many some coping mechanisms when wanting to throw in the towel.

In 1st King Chapter 19, Queen Jezebel put out a decree that Elijah was good as dead, she was going to get revenge for what he did on Mt. Carmel. You recall the story; it was a contest against the prophets of Baal to see who the true living god was; of course the true God won. Elijah spoke and fire came down from heaven and burned up the water and the wood that was on the altar. This was a serious battle, and Elijah won. He defeated the enemy. He showed the enemy that “greater is he that is within {him} than he that is within the world” (1 John 4:4). But right after this great victory, his mind hears the threat of the enemy and he begins to run for his life. Look at what Elijah said in verses 3-5 in chapter 19:

When Elijah saw how things were, he ran for dear life to Beersheba, far in the south of Judah. He left his young servant there and then went on into the desert another day’s journey. He came to a lone broom bush and collapsed in its shade, wanting in the worst way to be done with it all—to just die: “Enough of this, God! Take my life—I’m ready to join my ancestors in the grave!” (The Message)

Right after a great victory, Elijah was ready to give up. Elijah was discouraged, and experienced burnout. He actually desires God to take him out of this world, but look at what happened with Elijah that I feel will help you, for it surely helps me.

The very first thing happened was REST. I used to pride myself of being a workaholic, however I was doing more harm than good. I never took a vacation for the first 7 years of my pastoral experience. Beloved, you must REST. If God rested after he created the world, what makes you think resting is not a part of the process? There are so many who pride themselves of ALWAYS doing. As if their “busyness” is going to get them an extra star in their crown. I have learned sometimes, when people call to ask, “What are you doing?” I proudly say, “Nothing!” Any professional physical trainer will tell you that your muscles don’t grow in the gym; they grow during your rest periods. Elijah was growing while sleeping under the broom bush. Stop trying to impress others by staying busy. Learn how to rest and never be ashamed of it.

The second thing that happened to our brother in this ministry during his moment of burnout was he ATE. My brother, and my sister, you have to eat! Eat right! Feeding your temple with the right kinds of food is crucial in dealing with burnout and discouragement. Yeah, I have heard my fellow colleagues say, “I have not eaten all day…” That is not good. How are you to be used by God to do this work, when you have not fed your body appropriately?

Aim for balance. Most days, eat from each food group-grains, protein foods, vegetable and fruit, and dairy. Listen to your body. Eat when you’re hungry. Stop when you feel satisfied.

Look for variety. Be adventurous. Choose different foods in each food group. For example, don’t reach for an apple every time you choose a fruit. Eating a variety of foods each day will help you get all the nutrients you need.

Practice moderation. Don’t have too much or too little of one thing. All foods, if eaten in moderation, can be part of healthy eating. (http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/tc/healthy-eating-overview)

I practice eating healthier and clean meals than I do processed food. In a normal day, for breakfast, I have steel cut oatmeal, wheat toast with coconut oil (instead of butter), two boiled brown eggs with homemade fresh juice (fruit and veggies in my juicer), or a healthy smoothie. For lunch I eat a heavy meal, still nothing processed. Then for dinner I have a salad or something light but yet filling.

When you look at the story, the angel told Elijah at least 3 times to EAT AND THEN REST. That is what I want to encourage you to do, it doesn’t matter if you are a pastor, church leader or not. It is important that while trying to “make a living” don’t forget to LIVE!

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The last and final instruction that was given to Elijah while he struggled with his bout of depression was to go to “The Mountain of God”, because he was going to experience the presence and voice of God. The question that God asked Elijah was a soul searching question, “What are you doing here?” I believe God was not talking about his physical location as much as his mental location. Why have you stopped and parked your mind, your spirit on “Unbelief Boulevard.”, “Hopeless Court”, “Doubt Street”, and “Give-up Avenue?” God asked that question to get Elijah back on the right road, going in the right direction mentally. Once Elijah answered the question, and Elijah was totally honest with God, “God I don’t feel like I can make it.” God told him to get up; I am about to pass by. Pastor, Leader, GET UP, God is about to pass by. God knows where you are. God knows what you are dealing with. God wants to refresh you; God wants to restore the joy of being called by Him. God wants to revive you, but you have muster up the strength and the faith to GET UP! Don’t stay down, GET UP! Yes, you, you can GET UP!

bINpowered,
Daryl k. Kearney
©2014

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