Monday, March 8, 2010

what I've been reading: burn out vs rust out from Peter Brain's Going the Distance

Robert Murray McCheyne, at the end of his short life, said,

God gave me the gospel and a horse. I've killed the horse, so I can no longer preach the gospel. (He was speaking of his body.)

Christmas Evans says,

I'd rather burn out than rust out in the service of the Lord.

James Berkeley responds,

I admire the bravado. It sounds dedicated, bold, and stirring. However, when I view the burnt-outs and the almost burnt-outs who lie by the ecclesiastical road, the glory fails to reach me. I see pain and waste and unfinished service. Is there not a third alternative to either burning out or rusting out? In Acts 20:24, Paul stated, "I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me". Herein lies the model I choose to follow. I want neither to burn out nor rust out. I want to finish the race.

These quotes are from Peter Brain's Going the Distance: How to Stay Fit for a Lifetime of Ministry pp. 10, 20; emphases mine.


Tasmanian said...

I heard that burn out happens when your efforts fail to satisfy your expectations. You try and try, pouring your whole life into something, and the end result is a disappointment. I don't think I can summon that kind of energy again because I can't face that kind of disappointment if it goes wrong. What I need to remember is that I need to rely on God's strength, not do it by myself, and that the purpose is to be able to keep running. Listening to "Stay Strong" by Newsboys has been a great reminder.

The Bullhorn said...

Burn out or rust out? Well, either way, you're out. "I have fought the fight, finished the course, I have kept the faith...."

Love the blog, Jean. Good writing and deep honesty pointed toward the King. Thanks!

Jean said...

Great points, both of you, thanks! (Sorry for taking a while to get back to you, Tasmanian!).

T, I like your definition of burnout - and of the disappointment which comes after things fail. I've experienced a lot of what you say over the last months. And yes, what I've learned is "less of me, more of God" - in all kinds of ways! - strength, goals, glory, plans, dreams - they all need to centre on God, not on me.

B, good observation - both ways you're "out"! A huge number of people leave the ministry every year because of burnout - and because their expectations aren't met.

Thanks for the encouragement.