What? Burn out for God?
August 1, 2007
My young adult world was underwritten by this maxim: "Burn out for God."
Then we got smarter. We came to understand each of us has particular gifts. Appreciating what those were allowed us to better focus on doing what we did best.
Great logic. It revolutionized my self-understanding and gave me freedom to become in ministry what I was good at. It helped shape how Lily and I raised Murray and Muriel.
The huge benefit in self-understanding is quite obvious: if I am more gifted to teach than preach, in the end people will benefit more from my focus on teaching and I'll experience greater satisfaction. It's a win/win.
What God has gifted me with, He expects me to hone, so as to maximize them in service. That is obedience. Further, it glorifies God from whom the gifts come.
Good to a point.
This logic fits those of us in economic and social environments allowed to pick and choose. It smacks of middle class opportunity and Western affluence. This begs the question: If one is an elder brother in a tribe in Kenya, does the same principle rule? If one is pioneering on the prairies in the early twentieth century, does the same logic prevail?
I think it does. While middle class privileges allow me to pursue opportunities under girded by my gifts, it does not mean that in places where the same is not so, that the principle of giftedness is negated.
However, we are distracted when personal gifting trumps other considerations. When someone is drowning, one doesn't ask if you have the gift of rescuing. You jump in. When a job needs doing, it's done because someone rolls up their sleeves and does it.
Self-selection on tasks can be a camouflage for a low work ethic. Laziness.
It may be that in retrospect, burning out for God isn't illogical after all.
Dear Maker of self, and Giver of gifts, help me find abandonment in Your calling. I'm not wanting foolishness that self-destructs your creation. But fearing the listing to the side of self-interest and self-preservation, I pray that the sound of Your voice will call me away so my ambition is indeed caught up in what matters to You. Amen.
It's better to burn out than to fade away.