And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God. 1 Kings 19:7-8
It is challenging to maintain one’s focus and drive in ministry or any other vocation consistently. In our humanity, we can get discouraged by our circumstances and become worn-out when people (family, friends, work, etc.) are pulling at us from every direction. At the peak of the Covid pandemic, many health workers left the profession because of burnout.
· Over 230,000 physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other clinicians had quit their jobs as of August last year, according to a report based on an analysis of medical claims data from Definitive Healthcare.
· About 117,000 physicians left the profession between the first quarter of 2020 and the fourth quarter of 2021, followed by about 53,000 nurse practitioners. (healthcaredive.com)
According to recent data collected from Barna’s pastor poll, U.S. pastors are currently in crisis and at risk of burnout. 38 percent indicate they have considered quitting full-time ministry within the past year. Only one in three pastors is considered “healthy” in terms of well-being.” (barnan.com)
Pastors are not the only ministry workers at risk of burnout. Indeed, in most cases, 20 percent of church volunteers are doing 80 percent of the work, increasing the risk of burnout for those volunteers. Many of those volunteers have taken a step back from their ministry role for the sake of their mental and physical health.
In today’s text, the prophet Elijah is struggling with ministry burnout. He is on the run from Jezebel who is trying to kill him. Elijah was ready to give up on his ministry and needed a touch from the Lord. After a long journey into the desert (spiritual and physical), Elijah was weary and jaded. But the Lord sent an angel to revive him spiritually and physically. But Elijah was so disillusioned by his predicament, he needed two touches from the angel to regain his spiritual senses.
When we become frustrated and discouraged in ministry, we should ask God for a touch to regain our focus and rediscover our purpose in God’s kingdom economy. Just because we feel burned out in doing God’s kingdom work does not mean we should quit on the Lord. God promised to put His strength in our weakness when we reach our physical, mental and spiritual limits. We may need to step away from our area of ministry or vocation for a while so we can recharge and be revitalized, but quitting should not be the end result. We may even need God’s touch more than once. But God can give us the strength and grace to keep pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus (Philippians 3:14).
My heart goes out to all pastors who left the vocation of pastoral ministry during the Covid pandemic. I can only imagine the personal, emotional, and spiritual struggle they must contend with in making such a life-defining decision. I also pray for medical professionals who have left their professions. I remain confident that “he who began a good work in [us] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6). Therefore, let us encourage one another and support each other as members of the body of Christ. As much as it is within our power, let us not add to the level of stress of another believer. Do your best to affirm another believer in their service to the kingdom of God. Pray for each other. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2.
Questions for Personal Reflection
What do you do when you feel burned out?
Why should you not quit on God?
Prayer- Blessed Lord, I thank you for not allowing me to quit on you when I feel overwhelmed. Please give me the courage and wisdom to come to you for spiritual and emotional therapy when I feel jaded in life and ministry.