February 26, 2012

“well it’s a bit passionate for your radio, that’s alright though it’s good for your soul, it feels good to be out of control, it feels good to be out of control” John Ruben.

This morning I want to invite you into a world you’ve probably been a part of for years, a world where Christians are constantly moving, where we never slow down or rest, where we think if we aren’t doing something or being all things to all people at all times we are being bad Christians. Welcome to the new world of the Christian, a world where the demand for purity and action has become so ingrained in us we lose our hearts and eventually our heads. This is a graceless world where one slip brings us judgement from our peers and superiors, where we determine who’s the best by their actions.

We think we can continue under the amount of stress we are putting ourselves under. We start to ignore signs such as sickness and depression, we start to get angry at the people we love, we snap at them, push them away. Then we lose our hearts, we become colder and eventually we are operating totally out of duty and the thought that we have no other choice. Then we either get so sick we are forced to stop and are hospitalized or we die, and when we recover we start the entire cycle again. Helping everybody, doing everything, getting sick, lather, rinse, repeat.

But how did we get here? What has brought us to this point of what we call Burn-Out? I recently posed this question to one of my professors lately, the response I got was this: “That’s something our generation really screwed up, we didn’t do spiritual formation like we should have and now your generation is paying the price. I only hope that we can train your generation to learn from our mistakes.”

I posed the idea in an earlier article that we have forgotten the value of our souls, but I’m starting to see a different problem affecting this. Problems that are holding us back from true Spiritual formation, from really experiencing the work of Sanctification.

The Lifeboat: The place we determine our worth. 

The best analogy I’ve ever heard for this other problem was proposed by Donald Miller in his amazing book Searching for God Knows What. Miller calls this second problem Life in the Lifeboat, I call it Lifeboat theory. Lifeboat Theory is the idea that we basically live in a lifeboat and we’re trying to determine who the best person in the lifeboat really is. I’ve spent most of my Christian walk in the Lifeboat, it’s not until recently that I jumped ship and joined Christ who Miller says “doesn’t need a boat.”

The lifeboat is something our culture has created, culture says that we should all be individuals, we don’t need others so we need to make sure we are better than everyone else, make sure everyone likes us and wants us around so we can stay in the boat, so we don’t get kicked out by those who are better than us. It becomes a lot of posturing, for me it was why I achieved everything under the sun, I wanted people to like me based on those achievements, I wanted to stay in the lifeboat.

House Rules: How the Lifeboat Fuels Burn-Out. 

Think about it as playing blackjack by House Rules, in the end the House will always win, you can play till two in the morning but the house will eventually clean you out (it will never fold, trust me.) John Calvin said that we’re all playing a game, and if we’re playing a game then our busy, individualistic, look at me society has set the house rules and if you don’t play by those rules then you’re out of the lifeboat.

So we do our best to stay busy, to keep going, to run as fast as we can so we can stay in the lifeboat. We teach Sunday School, we love others, we start ministries, we get into relationships, we do school, we go and go and go until we can’t go anymore so we can be accepted and loved by our friends and hopefully not have enemies. We become leaders who just want to stay in the lifeboat and that is far from a good place to lead from.

We Don’t Need a Lifeboat:  Because Jesus Walked on Water 

So how do we combat this, how do we get away from this cycle? We need to start by getting out of the Lifeboat. The best advice I was ever given was to stop, I got that advice this summer when my roommate pulled me aside. You see despite the house rules set for us by society there is a need that is now starting to be vocalized among the leaders of the upcoming generation, a need for authenticity, a need for community, a need to give up control.

Christians are starting to pray, reaching out to God and realizing that the pace we are keeping will only kill us if we allow it to keep going. People are tired of the monster that is devouring their homes and their hearts, culture has reached the end of a break-out cycle and it wants something better. Christians want out of the lifeboat and we’re starting to realize again that Jesus walked on water.

Soul Care: Becoming Irrelevant in comparison 

Henri Nouwen said in his book In the Name of Jesus that the way of the Christian Leader in the next generation needs to look more like someone who is irrelevant. Someone who doesn’t worry about these things, someone like David in Psalms 131, someone who goes against the social norms of business and takes care of themselves.

This requires us to get out of the lifeboat and stop playing by house rules. We need to still and quiet our spirits and learn to listen to the Lord, we need to take time to listen to God and allow Him to move and transform us. This requires us to give up control, to acknowledge that God is sovereign, that God’s views on us are what we are really searching for. That with all our activities and all the seeking of human affection and attention will pale in comparison to what God really thinks about us and has to saw about who we are. God provides the ultimate form of validation that we will never get from our fellow humans. God silently whispers to us, moves in us, tells us who we are and transforms our thinking.

Transformed: What I discovered outside of the lifeboat and out of control

When I discovered this suddenly a light switched on, I realized that I was heading towards a dead end in Ministry and in life. My daily activities were meant to make me look good to others and my soul suffered because it wasn’t taking the time to surrender to God’s perfect will. Once I did that I realized that with God in control and my will being transformed into God’s my joy was complete. I was no longer fighting with God or others, nor did I rely on others to tell me who I was, instead I was experiencing God through scripture and through amazing times of prayer. I saw my gifts begin to develop and my love for people grew exponentially. .

God is transforming my thinking through things like quiet time. I know there is nothing wrong with being busy but it does become a problem when you are leading from a bad place and not taking care of yourself.

So let’s get out of the Lifeboat, let’s give up control of our lives to a Sovereign God who has raised us out of the water and given us new names. We should follow Jesus example and get away, go out into the wilderness to pray and listen to the words of the Psalmist “My soul waits for the Lord, and in His word I hope, My soul waits for the Lord, like the watchmen waits for the morning, Like the watchman waits for the morning.” (Psalms 130:5-6 ESV).

Lay it down dear friends, stop the cycle and bask in the amazing love of Christ and presence of God. Find a quiet place where you can mediate on His words and do things that we want to do. We can’t do it all friends, we were never meant to, that’s why the Body of Christ is so important, we are called to live in community and bear each others burdens.

So STOP, listen to God and let Him retrain your mind and let’s lead from a better place!

Welcome to a new world, one with grace and compassion and healthy Christians as we discover true soul care moved by God’s will and sheer greatness to lead from the greatest place possible, God’s heart.

I praise God for you readers!
Jonathan Faulkner

Related Posts by Jonathan Faulkner
The Ministry Burn Out
The Mountain Stream

Also available from 10:31 Life Ministries
College Commitment: Playing with a Thunderstorm by David Faulkner
A Chosen Generation: Devoured, Withered, Choked and…Alive? by Angel Edwards
Confessions of a College Freshmen: That 1 AM Feeling. by Amy Faulkner

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