Facing Godward – Part 1: How to Reduce Burnout By Embracing Your Christian Values at Work

Imagine this scenario: it is quitting time. Time for the workday to end and time to begin the journey home to family and friends. Before you grab your keys and head toward the door, take a minute for a quick wellness inventory. How do you feel? It’s been a full day, you are pleased, even pleasantly surprised with all you were able to accomplish today. Looking at all you were able to check off your to-do list today, you are more than a little surprised that you aren’t exhausted. In fact, as you continue your inventory, you appreciate the warm energy that remains. It is with a high level of excitement that you look forward to a full evening with your loved ones. 

Does that describe a typical end of your workday? It should. God cursed the ground in response to Adam’s fall. God told Adam that it would take hard labor to produce food for his table. Why shouldn’t we expect work to be hard? We shouldn’t expect work to be burdensome because of Jesus. He promises that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Why then do so many complain about being trapped in the rat race? Why is work such a drudgery?

I want to be perfectly clear, a lightened burden is not synonymous with sloughing off or laziness. God has invested talents in you and He has every right to expect you to engage and invest those talents. In the book of Matthew (chapter 25), Jesus shares a story of investing talents. Those familiar with the story know that two men invested well and were commended for their accomplishments while a third man hedged against a bear market and was chastened.

To continue the clarification, labor, work, and even hard work shouldn’t be burdensome for Christians. How can hard work not be hard? Jesus’ illustration of the yoke offers a clear answer to this question. Secular advisors have some understanding. For example, Mark Twain is quoted as saying; “Find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Aligning your gifts and talents brings you to the place where you can allow your work to be your worship. This provides the opportunity to “find a job you enjoy doing”.  The alignment also allows you to lean on Jesus. When we work with Jesus, we find the load to be light, even refreshing. It is only when we try to pull against Him and “do it our own way” that we become weary. I join with the initiatives to invent a word that captures the Scriptural essence that work, worship, and service are synonymous. Check out this article I wrote for a deeper discussion of “workship.” 

Let Jesus Take the Load

For most of my life, I was taught Matthew 11:30 with a picture of an English ox yoke. A brief study of history and culture, however, leads me to conclude the picture should instead be the yoke used by the people of Jesus’ day. The Middle Eastern yoke was more likely to be a pole, either carried by one person with a load on both ends, or a single load carried between two persons.

The latter interpretation provides a significantly richer illustration.

If you picture yourself joined with Jesus in this Middle Eastern version of the yoke, you can imagine Him carrying half of your load. 

We know however that He takes the yoke fully upon Himself, permitting us to participate. Placing Jesus in the center of the yoke illustrates that we aren’t carrying half the load, maybe we are carrying a quarter of it.

Imagine moving closer to Jesus in the illustration. The closer you get, the less burden you are carrying. Once we get close enough to be completely leaning on Him, we see that He is carrying the entire burden.  We are along for the ride!

It is in this proximity and position that we can experience the day that ends with our dual amazement. We are amazed both with how much He was able to complete through us that day and by how energized we are at the end of such a productive day.

Moving Closer to Jesus

You may be thinking, this is great, but how can you move closer to Jesus and thereby release this burden? You go to church, pray, practice your faith and do all the right things, what else could or should you do? Following are four tips to start this journey of enlightenment. Reduce the feelings of burnout by leaning on Jesus for guidance. 

Practice Mindfulness and Meditation- Take a moment each day, whether it be at the start or the end of the day, to sit quietly with yourself. Pose your thoughts and questions to God, and then listen. Whether you’re feeling stressed, have a problem that you’re struggling to overcome, or haven’t met your goal for the week, sit with it for a few moments and breathe it in. Speak your concerns and even your long-term goals and aspirations to Jesus. Read James 1:5 then pray and listen for guidance and enlightenment. Enjoy the clarity that comes through this amazing daily exercise. 

Embrace Your Faith at Work- This goes back to the concept of leading with “workship” described earlier. Many Christian entrepreneurs embrace their faith so easily at home with family and loved ones but struggle to find a place for their faith in the business world. However, there should be no difference. As you lead your home life in the name of Jesus, the same can be possible for work. Approach leadership with humility, grace, and the teachings of the Bible. So many lessons from the Bible apply to good leadership and act as a road map to a successful entrepreneurship journey. As Jesus asks in Mark 8:36 “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” Embrace your faith at work and lead by Jesus’ teachings through all of your entrepreneurial successes (and even through your failures). 

Recognize Your Community- You are not the solution, only a small part of it. Recognize and embrace your gifts, talents, limitations, and vulnerabilities. Surround yourself with those who encourage and compliment you. Be especially diligent to find concerned and caring partners who will take you to task and tell you when you have spinach in your teeth. You are an essential part of the body, but there are many other equally essential parts. Do your part with Colossians 3:23 vigor. Acknowledge and respect the other body parts as they do the same.

Give Back to the Community- It’s easy to feel good about the day when we feel we’ve made an impact, but too often leaders get so stuck in the weeds that all they see behind and before them is more brush. Make concerted efforts to take a step back, and use your business’ platform to give back. Perhaps one lunch a quarter, you and your staff serve food together to the homeless at a shelter. Or during an awareness month of your choosing, you donate a small percentage of your proceeds to that cause. Organize a staff team for a local run or walk that supports a charity close to your heart or offer an internship opportunity for students at a local high school. More importantly, take time to recognize the way that your products and services give back to your consumer base, and the good it brings to those that rely on it and to your community at large. Think through how your mission ties back to your Christian values, and always lead your day with that at the forefront of your mind.  

If you still find yourself struggling to practice your “workship”, and feel burned out and run down at the end of your workdays rather than energized and motivated, consider signing up for one of my no obligation, complimentary business coaching sessions. I’m a licensed business coach with over 30 years of experience, and a passion for reconnecting business leaders with their faith in the professional realm.