This morning, I walked up to my pastor and said, “Find me some help in Children’s Church, or I quit.” Whoa, friend. Let me start from the beginning.
I need to be needed. I desperately want to be the person who swoops in a saves the day. I crave the kind of recognition that makes your ears turn pink with glee because someone noticed and appreciated the work you did. And so, I say yes — to everything. I say yes before I even really understand what is being asked of me. I dive in, head first, and hope that I’ll figure it out along the way.
This kind of self-imposed martyrdom gets a reputation and before you realize, you’ve committed to taking care of everyone but yourself. What was supposed to be a short-term commitment to the children’s ministry has turned into 18 months of exhaustive work. For a season, I was capable and willing to step in to meet this need, but I slowly lost my support and began shouldering more of the load. When I walked into church this morning, a half-dozen people asked me if I was alright. They told me I looked exhausted (thanks, by the way), that I looked upset, that I looked like a hot mess (direct quote). That was the wake up call I needed. I have been so focused on serving, feeling selfish for wanting some time to be fed, to be spiritually nourished, that I forgot that even Jesus needed alone time.
In Matthew 14, after the feeding of the 5,000, Jesus sends the disciples on ahead of him while he gets the crowd to go home. He then retreats up the mountain to pray, by himself. In Luke 5 we’re told that he often “withdrew to lonely places” to commune with his father. Mark 6 tells of a trip to Tyre where Jesus didn’t even want anyone to know he was around because he needed time off from the constant ministry.
If you, like me, are feeling the strain of burnout from over-commitment, start saying, “no”. No need to drop everything all at once and leave everyone else in a lurch, but start pulling back. There is guilt, of course, but such sweet freedom. I promise you, it is important. You aren’t good to anyone if you reach your breaking point. God calls us to work, to do what we can for the kingdom and for those around us. He does not call us to sacrifice our health, sanity, or families with overwhelming burdens and commitments.
It’s okay to say no, and mean it.