Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Do not grow weary.....

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" - Galatians 6:9

This verse came up on my facebook wall at the weekend and I can't get it out of my head. It came up in the middle of a number of days that have been emotionally draining, both personally and in work. Where I've tried to escape in the last few days, my escaping has been interrupted by things that I wouldn't expect to happen on any normal day. Sometimes the hits just keep on coming. 

So where does that verse fit into this? It's a verse that I and others have used in the past to urge ourselves and one another on - what you are doing is good, keep on going, look at the difference you're making. It's a verse that has been used to encourage people to get through the barrier, to make a way through the wall of tiredness that makes the task ahead seem impossible. 

But it's also a verse that could just tip you over the edge. 

The voices that cry out in my Baptist Minister circles at the moment are ones that take this verse and use it as a reason to keep going, but are at that point of tipping over the edge. The reality of ministerial burnout, even for those who always appear strong and to have it together, is a concept that a number are having to wrestle with at the moment. The voices are crying out "I can't do this anymore", "I've had enough", "the mountain is too big to climb". Do not become weary of doing good has become a reason to not stop, not take holidays, not take rest days, to feed everyone except themselves. The pressure from congregations who want the ministers to have all the answers to questions they are not experts in answering is huge. 

Perhaps we need to pause for a minute and turn this verse on its head. Perhaps we need to let go of the need to focus on the 'do good' and focus on the 'do not become weary'. In churches led by action and programme and never ever stopping ever, perhaps we have come to our limit. 

Galatians 6 says not only verse 9, but also 'watch yourselves', 'carry one another's burdens', 'test your own actions', '[don't] compare yourselves to others'..... 

If we are not to grow weary, then it makes sense that we keep an eye on ourselves and one another, it makes sense that we check ourselves for weariness and do something about it, it makes sense that we don't compare ourselves to others, because it only leads to the myth that we're not good enough. I have no idea how some ministers do what they do, but that's them, and I am me. 

Do not grow weary in doing good calls us away from a life of self-centred laziness, but it doesn't call us to a life of exhaustion. God created sabbath. God put sabbath smack bang in the middle of the 10 commandments. God stopped the world that was full of humans trying to be saviours when the temple curtain tore in two.

Do not grow weary in doing good calls us to rest, it calls us to refill, it calls us to look ahead with a pause to resource ourselves for the way ahead. It calls us to remember that we are here to restore, but that we can't do that if we're lying on the floor and are not able to even crawl ahead. 

Do not grow weary in doing good. 

Do not grow weary, for as you take the path ahead which will bring much good, the possibility for burnout is real. 

Take care of yourselves, take care of your leaders, and make space for rest. That will enable the good to happen. 

Do not grow weary, for God is with us. Do not grow weary, for God calls us in his way. Do not grow weary, for the path ahead is not meant to be walked alone. Do not grow weary, because even though the future is difficult to see, the promise is that the future will be good. 

Do not grow weary. God gives you rest.

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