Maintaining a proper life balance so we do not burn out
By Larry Kreider
Some years back, my daughter and I had the dubious experience of destroying the engines in our two cars on the same day. I had become so busy “building the kingdom” that I forgot to check the oil in the vehicles. Both our cars’ engines overheated and were ruined beyond repair. Since that time, I learned the extreme importance of keeping a close watch on the critical gauges on the dashboards of our cars!
I believe that, like the gauges in our cars, God has given three spiritual gauges to help us live passionately for Jesus while maintaining a proper life balance so we do not burn out in the process. These gauges include our spirit gauge, our soul gauge, and our body gauge. When these gauges are all healthy, we can run the race of life for Christ to its entirety, not dropping out prematurely. “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
Our Spirit Gauge
Years ago, a group of church leaders in an underground church in Central Asia asked me how much time I spend alone with the Lord each day. The Lord used this question to cause me to search my heart and my priorities, repent, and press into God daily in a fresh way. Jesus, our divine model, lived a life of radical obedience to the Father. He did nothing, unless the Father told him to do so (John 8:28). He valued time along with his heavenly Father early each morning. He could not compromise time alone with Daddy. There are no shortcuts. How much time do you spend alone with God each day? Let’s check our spirit gauge.
Our Soul Gauge
The enemy knows that if he can wound our soul, he can minimize the effect the Holy Spirit will have in us and through us. Our soul—our mind, will, and emotions—need to be cleansed and revitalized regularly. Are you holding bitterness against anyone? Keep short accounts with others. Forgive because you have been forgiven (Matthew 6:14) and ask the Lord to bless them. It doesn’t mean what they did was right, it probably wasn’t. But it sets us free and keeps our soul healthy. Then read a good book. Take a walk. Do something you enjoy. Keep your soul healthy. We must keep our eyes on our soul gauge.
Our Body Gauge
Jesus understood that His spirit lived in a physical body and that His body and soul needed to be taken care of. He knew when to withdraw from the crowds to rest and rejuvenate His body and soul, even when crowds were crying out for ministry. A healthy body gives us more stamina for spiritual warfare. A proper diet and exercise go a long way in keeping our bodies healthy. Paul the apostle tells us: “I beat [discipline] my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize” (1 Corinthians 9:27). This should place the fear of the Lord in us! Let’s evaluate our lives and check our body gauge.
Helping Each Other
Small group leaders need to be quick to check their gauges. Sometimes I need a reminder from others to help me be sure I am watching my spiritual gauges. Several years ago, leaders the Lord had placed around me strongly encouraged me to take a three-month sabbatical. They noticed my spirit, soul, and body gauges were in the red danger zone. I was on the verge of physical, emotional and spiritual depletion from “serving in the kingdom.” I submitted to their counsel and came back several months later refreshed and encouraged for the next leg in the journey of our ministry. I felt like a new man.
Constant maintenance is needed in order to stay spiritually healthy to live out our destiny in the kingdom of God. I challenge you to ask your small group group to look over your shoulder and remind you to check your gauges. It could save your life.
For more information of preventing burn out, listen to episode 21 of the Larry Kreider Leadership Podcast, “Lester Zimmerman on Safety Nets & Setting Boundaries!”
About Larry Kreider
Larry has spent the past four decades training leaders to make disciples with the small group concept. Larry serves as the international director of DOVE International, a worldwide network of over 1,000 churches in 26 nations. Larry has written more than 40 books and travels extensively teaching and imparting practical discipleship to leaders globally. Read about Larry or catch up on Larry’s blog.