Monday, June 16, 2014

Burnout: The High Cost of a Broken Life.

We have all experienced days filled with a multitude of tasks infused with incredible stress and tension laced time pressures.  All too often we find ourselves increasingly weary with a core numbing fatigue. We race to return phone calls and e-mails on our Smartphones while grabbing dinner from a fast food restaurant for the third time this week.

Running The Rat Race

Like a long distance runner, we can see the finish line to meet new deadlines, but fail to recognize that each and every task that we commit ourselves to has its own separate finish line, time frame, and a deadline. We can be competing in a dozen time pressured, stress producing races at the very same time. 

Very slowly, if we are not careful, our lives can become over committed and driven to complete a myriad of responsibilities and commitments. The demand of multitasking is a critical necessity in the business world today, however, a continuous life of multitasking, isn’t God’s will for our lives. It can be the certain pathway to complete mental, emotion, physical and spiritual burnout. 

Not long ago  I realized that on several separate occasions, I had either spoken to, sent texts, or e-mailed my co-workers, friends, and family the often using the acronym: 

ASAP- As Soon As Possible. I was adding the phrase to my time pressurized responsibilities, “I will get back to you ASAP”, “Let me check on that and get an answer to you ASAP”, or “I will be home ASAP.” We can increasingly we find ourselves never on time, and always running late.
Characteristics of Burn-Out
Burnout is a slow and insidious process whereby our lives get farther and farther out of balance. Like the gymnast walking the  balance beam, who is wobbling and gyrating to find center-point and stay balanced, so we too can be living on that precarious edge.

Many professionals who work in the medical field or as mental health practitioners, note several characteristics that are most often seen in the profile of someone who is on the high edge of burning out:

Exhaustion and Extreme Fatigue:Reserves are Depleted

Emotional Exhaustion: Flat emotions or erratic outbursts

Increase in Illness vulnerability: Lowered Immune System

Withdrawal from relationships: Contact Avoidance

Negative mind-set: Increasingly pessimistic

During a very intense, heavy workload period in my professional life, I came very close to complete and total burnout. Somehow, I had to slow down and get my life back in balance. I began to list the many tasks and responsibilities that were on my plate every day and as often happens, I discovered a pattern:  

My life was slowly slipping away from me, while I was allowing myself to be a resource asset for those who had needs or requests for my help or professional advice. I was beginning to live the lives of others and was failing to live my own life. 

Irregular Devotional Worship

The Quiet Place can slip away from us so subtly that sadly we don’t even realize that it is gone. The very nature of God is peace.  He desires us to develop a life that has quietness as a norm and not an occasional moment that is grasped desperately during times of stress and overload.

Biblical Balance in our Lives

Too many of us find ourselves mirroring the despair of the Patriarch Job as our lives grind down with excessively overloaded schedules and commitments,  

"I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil."  Job 3:26 

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you.” I Thessalonians 4:11

“That we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” I Timothy 2:2

Be Teachable - Practice the pathway to Quietness  

It is crucial to quiet our spirit, and slow down our lives to regain the inner peace and calmness that God is pleased to see radiate through each of us. 

"Teach me, and I will be quiet” Job 6:24 

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, "Come with me to a Quiet Place and get some rest." Mark 6:21

Be Obedient - Ask God to lead you into Quietness

“He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside quiet waters,” Psalm 23:2

In the still moments of personal solitude, we can pause to worship God and renew our strength. Inner peace is often hurriedly prayed for during times of stress like it is quick fix to ease our personal pressures and mounting tensions. There is certainly nothing wrong with praying for God to give inner peace when all is chaotic around us. However, God desires that we display and radiate an inner peace that has already been cultivated from our times in the Quiet Place, so that we can stay calm in the midst of the storm.

Be Committed - Cultivate an inner Quiet Place

Take responsibility to take yourself in check and find a Quiet Place. No one else will stop your spinning world except the hospital or the morgue. 

“But I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me.   Psalm 131:2

Spiritual maturity is measured by cultivating “a gentle and Quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.”  I Peter 3:4    

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: in Quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:15 

(See also Zephaniah 3:17, Mark 4:39, Mark 6:31)

Listen to this worshipful song by Michael W Smith The Heart of Worship Video with Lyrics

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Father's Day: Remembering his Journey through your life

There are certain experiences that will always be a signpost along the pathway of our lives. Events that we will always remember, and some we will never forget, and a small number we wish we could forget. Mileposts...Markers...Memorials...Memories

Some of those days are sometimes celebrated each year and one of those is Father's Day. The idea behind making this a special day for dads is good. With the weird ties, bad cologne, ceramic hand prints of our children, to cards and hugs, Father's Day is celebrated in many ways.

This piece of writing is to try to create a kind of memorable collage of a father's journey through his own life. Not necessarily my own, but fathers all over the world. Some fathers have mentored their children well, and some fathers, who for one reason or another seemingly failed at what fatherhood was supposed to be. Some of us have lost our fathers, some do not know who their father is, or if they do, where he is or why he left. There are people looking at Father's Day today from all sides of the role and relationship of fatherhood. 

We have all had a father, many have become father's, some will be step-fathers, and help try to raise another father's children, and some will have been let down and hurt by a father they cannot seem to forgive.

What we need to Remember about our Fathers

They are men who were sons

Each of our fathers were one day sons. They learned a lot about fatherhood from the fathers who raised them. Some were raised well and some were not. Some have experienced great sorrow in their pilgrimage to fatherhood and some had no idea how incredibly important their relationship and example would mean to you.

They are men who were the best father we needed

There are fathers who in spite of their own experiences as a son, or personal hurts growing up that became the father that was the best of the best. Some of you have been gifted by great fathers who seemingly did it all right.

They are men who made mistakes

All of us were provided with a father that did some things right along the way, in spite of their failings. It is no easy thing to be the provider of financial, relational and spiritual resources, but for all of us, it is possible to do the best that you can. We will all let our children down in some way or another in this is inevitable for fathers are as imperfect as we are.

They are men who often kept their pain to themselves

Many boys were taught to never cry, don't share your feelings, always be strong, and never be vulnerable.  That is what society and their fathers and grandfathers taught them. 
Most men keep their personal pain and sorrow to themselves and have seemed distant to their children because of that choice.

They are men who have hurt their children

There are fathers who have hurt their children deeply and in some cases intentionally. Others do not even realize that their long hours at work, on business trips, being a soldier or a farmer or a business owner have children who may have felt abandoned by them and have never shared that with their fathers. There were missed birthdays, school plays, Christmases, or times when a child needed their father to be there more than any other person in the world. 

They are men who will often have regrets

Fathers will always have regrets. If you are a father reading this remember that no one on this earth will ever be the perfect father. If you have failed your children ask their forgiveness and forgive yourself along the way. 

They are men who need our praise for what they tried to do

Take a moment to thank your father for what he tried to do with what he had. That can be in person, across the miles or with a prayer that he would hear the echo of wherever he may be. 

They are men who need our forgiveness for their failures

Let your father know that you have forgiven his failings or the things that have disappointed you, let you down or hurt you in life. Let it go....release him from that prison of his own guilt and free yourself from the burden of carrying the load of it.

What we can Cherish as we Remember our Fathers

Cherish each special memory that has made you a who you are.Make a list of only the special memories that you have had with your father. If there are photos, make up a poem, a story or a card, and if you can send it today to him. If you cannot send it, save it as a cherished reminder that he gave you those memories and experiences.

Cherish the significant lessons they Taught you about life

Thank your father for any of the lessons that you learned that came directly from him to you. Let him know or remind yourself that life teaches us through many experiences how to be the person that we have become. The process is full of mistakes and successes.

Cherish them as imperfect men who were in your life for a reason

There is a strength in knowing that God has sovereignty over the things that touch and impact our lives, especially those that we had no choice in. 

He may be the first father in his family linage to have tried to do it differently. Honor that attempt. There are lessons about being a father that you experience through trial and error, toil and effort, and some work and some do not.

God is the Only Perfect Father
the world will ever have the privilege to have

 He will never abandon you

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”  
Psalm 90:1-2

 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”   Psalm 46:1


 He will be by your side your whole life


Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me. I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.” 

Psalm 69:1-3

You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble;  You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.” Psalm 32:7

Jesus Christ, His Son gave His Life so that you could be His Child

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. “ John 14:6

Receive that gift this Father's Day as the Greatest Gift ever given

Take a long walk today and talk to your 
Heavenly Father and wish Him a Happy Father's Day. It must be tough to have so many kids that blame Him for things that are not His fault, He doesn't get much credit for what He does do for us each day, and He is lonely for our love and wants us to spend time in The Quiet Place with Him alone.

Take a moment to listen to a Father's Heart poured out in a simple song:
Welcome Home by Brian Littrell 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Stepping out of your Comfort Zone

For some people, the superstition of Friday the 13th being a day of bad luck and probable trouble, is a very serious matter. Believing that their day is doomed to be full of mishaps, fated tragedies and all around bad luck, creates a mindset that today is the day to call in sick. It might be best to stay home, hunker down with a good book or a stack of movies, except of course the one called, you guessed it, Friday the 13th

The superstition is called Friggatriskaidekaphobia. Try to say that fast 10 times. But wait a second, if you do, you just might end up at the emergency room with an oral surgeon trying to untie your unlucky tongue. It might just be easier to say, I have Fear of Friday the 13th. It has been called the most prevalent superstition that people experience. In fact, on Friday the 13th, many people won’t eat out, will not fly, and avoid anything that may put them at risk of stepping out of their safe Comfort Zone.
In reality, many people all over the world are being pushed to the panicky edge of their own personal Comfort Zone. With the downsizing of many companies all over the world, most employees are having to wear 3 or 4 hats just to keep their jobs. The press of forced change that is imposed upon all of us today due to circumstances outside of our control, creates incredible anxiety, and threatens to take away our peace in the Quiet Place.
The Quiet Place is not a realm where we are free from life's trials, or do not experience trouble. It is only as our hearts and minds are at peace with God, that we can step out of our Comfort Zone because the Quiet Place is not a location or a protective force is the ability to travel trough the storm of trouble, yet maintain peace and comfort within because God is within us. He is our Quiet Place.

The real risk of stepping outside of our Comfort Zone

The idea of taking a step outside of this place of perceived safety brings on the highest potential of failure,increases the risk of making a fool out of oneself, and thereby being potentially rejected by others. The fear of dropping the ball, and letting people down, and ultimately enhancing their LPR (Loser Potentiality Ratio), is terrifying.
For some people, the thought of taking a risk to attempt something outside of one’s Comfort Zone, without a stiff drink, smoking a bowl of green bud, or taking Ativan, Xanax, Valium, or any host of pharmaceuticals, legal and illegal, is impossible to consider. This is life for them, and it is real and scary.

The only true Hiding Place is found in God

A person cannot hide from life because they may fear hurt, failure or loss. Only God provides a Hiding Place so safe, that nothing can come to you that doesn't first pass through Him.The key is in being vulnerable enough to trust Him with the risk that life hurts, and suffering is real. It is a trusting assurance that should a storm come your way, He will be there strengthening you and comforting you through it all.

The Burdens of Life Can be Overwhelming

Life is filled with risks every day. It doesn't make a person a better or stronger leader because they take risks. It is the leader who knows which risks to take, and which to avoid, that exemplifies good leadership skills. I have made enough mistakes in my lifetime to know that.

God is the God of all Comfort (I Corinthians 1:3-50). When you find yourself flat on your face and you don't know which way to turn, try looking up. His comfort Zone flows out of His all sufficient grace, lavished upon us through His Son, Jesus Christ the Lord of Peace. He is the Prince of Peace because He paid the Price of Peace (II Corinthians 5:17-21).
When Life becomes a daily Friday the 13th

Let’s face it, today most people are afraid of the loss of their ability to hold onto their personal financial security. 
Just like taking a table cloth and giving it a good snap to unfurl it, the ripple of significant economic destabilization of international markets, have had a large scale impact across the financial infrastructure of world economics that has affected every one of us.

Employment Downsizing and Work-life issues

The security of one’s job used to be something that gave a person a sense of personal security. Not many people today can say with certainty, ”My job is secure. They need me too much to lay me off much less fire me.” The term ‘Downsizing’ is now a common phrase from Seattle to Cape Town, from Rome to Athens, or from Manila to London.

Loss of Control and Facing the unknown 

Do we really have control over anything? Not really. Something can happen to anyone, at anytime, in anyplace and one might have no power to prevent it from happening. On the morning of March 11, 2011, the people living in the city of Kesennuma, Japan could do nothing as the horrific tragedy of an earthquake and tsunami devastated their city and hundreds of miles of surrounding communities. The world watched in horror as scenes of devastation spread across the internet and international media causing a firestorm of visual shock and grief. In reality we all face the unknown every day of our lives. 

We all need a Comfort Zone, but one that liberates us rather than imprisons us. Life begins at the end of your Comfort Zone, and that only can take place when God becomes the God of all Comfort to you.

“You are my Hiding Place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance." Psalm 32:6

Only Jesus Christ Can be our true Comfort Zone

When your days are filled with worry and stress, remember that Jesus Christ has much bigger shoulders than you do, and they carried an old rugged cross all the way to the very heart of God.

The peace of God is found in Jesus Christ alone

"I am the way, the truth and the life; no man can come to the Father except by me." John 14:6 
The troubles of life will fill you with anxiety

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me."  John 14:1

 The peace of God cannot be counterfeited

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Life outside the Comfort Zone will always be tough

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 

If today is a day where your anxiety and stress are high and your heart is heavy, take time to meet with God in the Quiet Place and lay the burden of life at His feet.