Weariness is what I am seeing in so many colleagues. A chronic weariness. As we serve others, we will certainly tire . But is chronic weariness a proper, Christ-like way to live and serve?
We know better than to let ourselves get so run down, so why do we do it?
I am going to venture the cause in a word: Need.
What Drives You?
Here are two ways we can allow need to drive us to ill health: Need for identity and the needs of the world.
Need for identity
Without a proper orientation in one’s personal identity, improper sources will be perpetually tapped. God has created us to be seen and known. We need a healthy identity. All of us, to some degree, have a misplaced identity. So what is the source of our identity? Here are two unhealthy ways we bolster a false-id:
1). I need to be needed. For caregivers this is deadly. Is it more comfortable caring for others than being cared for? Maybe you provide others’ debriefings, counsel, spiritual direction, and trainings. But who is your debriefer, counselor, spiritual director, and teacher? If you have none, that is a monster warning right there. We must be master receivers to be healthy and wise givers (see previous post here).
2) I need to be recognized, affirmed and approved. So I perform for it. Constantly monitoring for feedback is addictive and destructive. This need will kill us because just as soon as the previous applause fades we need our next fix. God provides affirmation and approval for us. To the degree we have limited capacity to receive his love and affirmation is the degree we will be driven to seek it elsewhere.
Bottom line: without an expanding identity as an adopted son or daughter of the Father, we will live out of unhealthy identities.
Needs of the world
This is a second need-driven temptation. We live in a landscape strewn with needs. As caregivers we have professional capacity to address many of those needs. But 1 +1 ≠ 2 in this equation. This is not simple math, it is exponential demand. If we live our lives in reaction to needs, then we are seldom intentional. The words “No, I am not available” become all to foreign a statement in our vernacular.
Need does not constitute calling.
Just because there is a need does not mean I am the one to tend to it. I long ago learned that just because “I can” does not mean “I should.” For example, just because I have 5 days between ministry gigs does not mean I should wedge another commitment in there if asked to.
Be need-informed but not need-driven.
Another Way to Live: Jesus was Not Need-Driven
Jesus’ identity: This is Trinitarian theology at its most basic and sweetest. Jesus has been loved by the Father for all eternity. Jesus knows he is Son, he has a Father to prove it.
Guess what, so too for you. Check out Jesus’ words:
“I have made you (Father) known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:26
One reason for Jesus to be incarnate is to show us the Father. He showed us that the Father loves us adopted ones with the same love he loves his Son. Eternally, unconditionally, preemptively, pursuantly, persistently.
Until one is fully aware, by the Spirit, that they are the beloved daughter or son of the Father, that there is nothing to prove, nothing to earn, one will persistently seek identity in other sources. Simple as that.
Jesus was not need driven: Yes, he did address many needs while on earth, and of course he is the Savior of the world. Yet, Jesus did not meet every need he came across even though he is the only one in history who could have. Needs did not constitute what he did. What drove Jesus? What directed his steps each day? I suggest you read the gospel of John very slowly and deliberately looking for the answer to that question. Here are a few hints:
John 5:19-20 “Jesus gave them this answer: ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.'”
John 14:10 “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority.Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.”
John 14:31 “The world may learn that I love the Father and do exactly what my Father has commanded me.”
The Son was Father-driven, not need-driven. True for Son, true for sons and daughters.
It is possible to live a life where our steps are directed by the Father. Jesus’ life was not a frenetic, exhausting drive to meet hoards of needs. Ours is not to be either.
A Little Self-Reflection
What is the level of your weariness?
What is the depth of your identity in the Father’s love? How are you growing in this truth? How open are you to being loved by him? How do you block yourself off from his love? If you were to lose your job today, what would be your source of identity?
How unconsciously reactionary to needs are you? How much do you wait on God to show you what needs to address? How much do you hear from God to “go here and do this” vs. you deciding on your own where to go and what to do?