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Patient Perseverance

by SHIRLEY RALSTON BURNOUT Balancing ministry, family, & life Being a woman in ministry Burn out Expectations Health issues on the field Isolation & loneliness Purpose Abide Overwhelmed Discouragement Spiritual wellness
Patient Perseverance
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”Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
Isaiah 40:28-31

“I can plod,” said William Carey, the father of modern missions. “That is my only genius. I can persevere in any definite pursuit. To this I owe everything.”

An apt description, isn’t it? I understand William Carey’s quote. Perseverance allows us to plod along as we “press on to the goal in Christ Jesus” (Phil 3:13-14). But the perseverance in character that many global workers possess can have a downside. Plodding without rest and renewal can lead to burnout. I was reminded of this during a recent training event on debriefing for global workers. Two of our youngest, hardest working members scored way too high on a burnout assessment. It is one of the main reasons global workers return from the field.

Isaiah’s words in chapter 40 are timeless. They speak to Israel’s vulnerability as a nation under threat from Assyria. However, these ancient writings also bear witness to the vulnerability we still face today, especially when we push ourselves too far without the self-care we need.

Four words stand out like a flashing red light in this passage: weary and tired, wait and renew. They speak of God’s power to transform emotional and physical exhaustion into strength and renewal.

Warren Wiersbe describes it this way; “The word ‘wait’ … means ‘to hope,’ to look to God for all that we need (Isa. 26:3; 30:15) … meditating on His character and His promises... The word ‘renew’ means ‘to exchange,’ as taking off old clothes and putting on new. As we wait before Him, God enables us to soar when there is a crisis, to run when the challenges are many, and to walk faithfully in the day-by-day demands of life.”

Let’s redeem the concept of plodding. If you feel like you are just going through the motions, saying what you think you should say, or doing what you think you should do, let your plodding reflect patience. Continue putting one foot in front of the other as you wait, and rest in the Lord to renew your strength.

Closing Prayer
Heavenly Father, Help us to see when we are striving under unrealistic expectations, overworked, and overwhelmed by the demands of ministry. Help us to emulate Jesus during these times, to withdraw from the crowds, pray and meditate on your word, and to wait on you to renew our strength. Amen.
Question for Reflection

Everyone has a window of tolerance. When we are close to being outside that window, we are at risk of burnout. Do you recognize your signs? What are they?

Shirley Ralston
September 19, 2022

When I begin to feel like my work doesn’t matter or that I am not making a difference, I know I am in a dangerous place. That is the time when I recognize that I need to take a step back to rest and renew. A change of focus and a change of pace in my daily life really helps. The key for me is to cease striving and lay all my burdens at Jesus’ feet. I confess though, that sometimes I don’t recognize my need for renewal soon enough. I have a strong support network that is not afraid to step in!