Several years ago at the Global Leadership Summit I heard a talk from Pastor Wayne Cordeiro where he shared his descent into burnout. Burnout, as Dr. Arch Hart defines it, is simply emotional exhaustion. It’s doing too much without taking time for rest, exercise, and reflection.
Pastor Cordeiro used a brilliant analogy that I’ve shared many times. He likened our emotional states to a giant tank with an input valve and an output valve. When we’re doing well we are typically inputting as much as we are outputting. The good chemicals in our bodies (serotonin) remain at an acceptable level. The trap comes when we begin constantly outputting more than we are inputting. This isn’t just a season of busyness, it’s a chronic condition. Our serotonin levels slowly drop. Over time, we begin feeling burned out, overstressed, and if we don’t take appropriate measures to recoup we will find ourselves in serious trouble.
I’m severely simplifying this process. And, there are numerous books and online resources on this subject. How to avoid burnout, what to do if you’re burned out… honestly, you can do a quick online search and find better information than what I could give you in this blog post. (Margin by Richard Swenson is highly recommended)
The reason I bring this up is because of an event that took place yesterday. My mom was in town and I took the kids over to her hotel so they could clock some swim hours. After they had a blast in the hotel pool, my mom said something I found rather profound. “Kids, it was very special getting to watch you swim today.” I thought, “Hmm… that’s interesting.”
It was good getting to watch them swim. It was nice to have an afternoon to just sit and watch them play, laugh, and “show off” a bit. I think what my mom meant though was something more substantial than nice. The truth is, my kids won’t stay kids. They’re growing up, fast. The days of snuggling on the couch, asking me to watch their performances, or sit with them during the latest episode of Spiderman or YouTube videos aren’t forever. This time with them is special because it has a shelf life (and because they are amazing).
More importantly though is the reality that their presence is a gift. When we tucked them into bed last night I thought about what my mom said. It wasn’t just good to spend an afternoon with them. It was special. Could I have spent the afternoon reading a beneficial book or working on Sunday morning? Absolutely. Is taking the kids out for an afternoon stressful? Sometimes. Any parent will tell you that planned events rarely go as expected. But at the end of the day am I thankful for the time with the kids? I wouldn’t have changed a thing.
In its essence, that’s input. It’s the reason God created the Sabbath. We NEED days of rest. We are wired for downtime. Take a moment to observe what is good in your life, just as God did as He admired His handiwork on the seventh day and “saw that it was good.”
As you plan your week tonight I’m encouraging you to intentionally plan your input time. And by input, I mean kids/family or time with friends. It doesn’t require a grandiose experience. I spent the Redbox rental fee (a whole 1.20) on Friday night and our whole family loved every minute. Input. Good. Restful. God intended.
In all of your productivity this week, make sure you’re having fun as well. You’ll feel better, keep burnout at bay, and honor God in the process. A win-win all around.
Til next time,