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May3TueThree ways to prevent spiritual exhaustion. May 3, 2016 by Captain Scott Strissel
Our mission isn't easy. In fact, it's difficult and often exhausting. Sometimes I see soldiers and officers with dead eyes. What do I mean by that? The spark has gone out. The fire that once burned so brightly is just a glowing ember; the fight has been squelched. Burnout happens when we are tempted to rely on our own strength, to do things our own way.
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- Opinion & Critical Thought
Have you been there? How do we come back from it? How do we recapture that fire, that spark? Here are three suggestions to help prevent and recover from burnout.
1. Draw from the well
“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint” (Jeremiah 31:25).
The well of the Lord is deep. He provided aid and renewal to Elijah in his time of need; he provided comfort and assurance to David when he was on the run; he will provide what we need, too.
This well can be found in the spiritual discipline of prayer and meditation, but it can also be found in nature. Have you ever walked in the woods and felt the go-go-go busyness of everyday life recede, and peace and tranquility wash over you? Walking in nature can be a well, because we are connecting with God's creation.
The well can be different for all of us. God can come and refill us in the most unlikely of places.
If you are burned out right now, or close to the end of your rope, don't quit. Seek out God's well of refreshment. He wants us to drink deeply from it, often, so that we will never thirst or grow weary of our mission to save souls and go for the worst.
2. Remember you aren't a solitary soldier
"He replied, 'I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left....” (1 Kings 19:10).
Despite experiencing the phenomenal defeat of King Ahab, Jezebel and the prophets of Baal, Elijah still feared for his life and felt alone. Have you ever felt that way? It's very common for officers and soldiers to feel alone, even after experiencing success. Satan, the father of lies, loves nothing more than to distort the truth and make us believe we have to stand alone, but it's simply not true.
Burnout often comes from a place of feeling utterly alone, abandoned and afraid. We might believe we are the only ones left and fall into a deep depression, like Elijah did. At this point, it's time to seek out other believers, those who can surround you with encouragement, love and support. Seek out another corps member, soldier, friend, pastor, mentor or divisional officer that you trust. You may need to seek professional counselling. You are not alone. We were never meant to be solitary soldiers!
3. Seek the Holy Spirit's power
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
I have a confession to make. All too often, I rely on my own power, wisdom and strength, rather than the power of the Holy Spirit. I want control. I press forward, only to find that I am out of step with God. Have you experienced this, too? It can lead to burnout. We pour ourselves out, investing everything—but when our strength is gone, we have no idea what to do next. We feel weak, alone and powerless.
We need to remember that our strength and power have never been enough for the tasks we have been given; the great burden of ministry was never ours to carry alone. We are asked only to be faithful to the Holy Spirit's leading. I cannot count how many times the Lord has reminded me of this. I charge in with all of my might, and then realize I have run ahead of God and run out of strength.
Is this where you are right now? You have exerted all of your power, and now you are burnt-out? Or you're heading in that direction? It's time to take inventory of your actions, motivations and life. It's time to go back to the well. It's time to realize you aren't a solitary soldier. It's time to ask for the Holy Spirit's strength and power to fill you once again.
This Army has never been about looking good in a uniform—it's about fully submitting to God and allowing him to lead us, in his strength and power. Faith doesn't require us to conquer the world; it simply requires us to conquer our fears through the power of the Holy Spirit. Full submission to God can and will lead us onward.
Captain Scott Strissel is the corps officer at Evansville Corps and Community Center in Indiana. He is an active blogger and contributor for the purpose of encouraging and challenging the Salvation Army world. Read his blog at pastorsponderings.org.