During my regular morning routine, I saw something I rarely see. Most of the time when I have actually seen a light bulb blow out, it’s been right when the switch was turned on. Yesterday, however, I sat down on the chair, turned on the lamp and over the next ten minutes watched it slightly waiver. I doubled checked the plug and twisted the bulb, which was already tight. About ten minutes later, I saw a slow fade and heard a “bzzzz” sound and the light went out. It was much slower process than I have many times experienced.
But this process is probably more in line with what a person experiences with burn out. It’s often not one thing that burns someone out. It’s a slow and steady decline of decisions and desires are no longer fueled. Some of these decisions come from the person, other times they are part of the circumstance and beyond anyone’s control. Either way, here are some thoughts about burn out:
1) Change the bulb before it’s out. Maybe you need a new structure or way thinking about things. Maybe you need to take some time to delegate, re-organize, etc. There’s an analogy in scripture that says, old wine skins can’t take new wine because they’ll burst. But, new wine skins will stretch and make room. Before you reach the point of burnout, change something so that you are able to continue on effectively and passionately.
2) Is the flame really out? Burnout is when the flame is totally gone. But if you have even a small glimmer, you’re not burnt out, you just need to fan the flame. How do you fan the flame?
– Taking time to rejuvenate.
– Take time to read, pray, study.
– Take time to think about how you got into what you are into – what made you originally jump into this?
– Take time to assess your gifts, what others have said about you, and how your life is being lived.
– Take action. It’s not a magical flame. Paul said to Timothy, “fan into flame the gift…” It requires some action on our part.
3) It may take a while. Just as slowly as a person moves toward burn out, it takes a while to move back toward a full fire. Do one thing today. Then another thing tomorrow. There probably will be the catalyst to get you going again, but it won’t come back overnight. Don’t worry if it’s going slowly.