Exhaustion is a physical, emotional, intellectual, relational, and spiritual state. It’s not just one, but all of these. We make a big mistake to think it’s just physical. Responding properly means responding biblically to each dynamic.
Exhaustion impacts others—and not in a good way. If you are serving God, raising a family, or meaningfully engaging in 21st century life, you will face exhaustion, if only from pure information overload. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be terminal!
Here are some quick suggestions for managing exhaustion for the sake of others…
1. Rest—It’s practical, biblical, even spiritual to rest. Don’t buy the lie that the less you sleep, the more godly you are. Don’t buy the lie that the world needs you so badly that you can’t rest. Jesus expended, but He also rested. Sleep returns you to sanity. Fatigue makes you crazy. Don’t give your family or your world a crazy you!
2. Nourish—Eating in balance can have a dramatic impact on your energy level and mental state, not to mention long-term health. Enough water and healthy foods can wonderfully restore you to strength after depletion.
3. Prioritize—Often, a well-stewarded life is more about energy management than time management. Admit you are a finite resource, and then strategically decide what to say “yes” to, and don’t push yourself to do more than you can or should. Easier said than done.
4. Exercise—Physical and intellectual energy is directly connected to blood flow. That’s why a day of laying around will increase fatigue. Restoring energy involves a balance between resting and exerting. Blood flow changes your state of being.
5. Value Health—Pushing or eating myself into an early grave isn’t noble. When God takes me, He takes me, but caring for my health enables me to care for the people I love as long as God allows.
1. Connect the Dots—your emotions directly and powerfully impact your physical being and your relationships. Emotional drain also produces physical drain. If you care well for your soul, your whole body is going to feel a lot better. Plus, people will stop avoiding you out of fear of “which you” they will encounter.
2. Relate Well—I believe a big part of healthy emotions traces directly to how healthy my relationships are. This begins, of course, with Jesus. It spills over into my marriage, my children, my friends, my co-laborers. Strong relationships fuel the soul while broken relationships damage the soul. Pursue peace in your relationships.
3. Renew your heart—reading the gauge on your own emotional tank is difficult. Sometimes a person who knows you well needs to call you on this. Think of it this way—an empty emotional tank is when you feel hopeless. A full emotional tank is when you feel hopeful. The Word, prayer, Christian friends, godly music, a good book, a long walk, a day of disconnect—all of these and more can help fill an empty emotional tank.
4. Be patient—Sometimes depletion hangs around for a while. (See Isa. 40:30-31) Wait it out. Keep moving in the direction of renewal, but don’t be discouraged if the fog doesn’t lift instantly. It will eventually.
1. Be Still Before God—In a world of incessant noise and painfully short attention spans, this is harder than ever. (Just think how fast you are scanning this blog post!) When is the last time you made your world quiet and slow so you could let God speak into your life by His Word and His Spirit? You need this regularly.
2. Replenish—So much of life and ministry is about expending. Expending without replenishing is dangerous. Running on fumes is risky. To give out, you must take in. Frankly, you must take in MORE than you are giving out. The more you are giving out, the more you MUST take in. You can’t give what you don’t have. A giving life MUST be preceded and fueled by a replenishing life.
We’ve been trained to think that expending is productive, replenishing isn’t. Doing and conquering feels productive, resting or relating doesn’t. This is deceptive. Both exhaling and inhaling are equally productive to life and health. Expending your heart is productive, but so is replenishing your heart!
3. Surrender in Dependence—An easy yoke is one where the other puller is pulling all the weight. A joyful ministry or blessed life is one that is carried along in the current of God’s moving. It is a yielded life. So often we are paddling hard in the wrong direction, trying to force results God isn’t producing. No wonder we are exhausted. The answer is simply to turn the boat in the direction that God is already moving and let Him do the work He wills.
Spiritual exhaustion is OFTEN a result of spiritual resistance. It’s a matter of fighting God’s moving and forcing Him into my agenda. God’s work doesn’t require my force. It requires my surrender. God creates the momentum, I must go with Him! Trying to paddle upstream when God is trying to move you down stream is frustrating and impossible.
Are you exhausted? Why? Maybe you’ve just expended yourself in good things and you need to rest and replenish on all of these levels. Maybe you are working hard to do something God isn’t doing.
Manage your exhaustion for the sake of others! An exhausted, frustrated, anxious, or tense you isn’t much use. I’ve learned that the hard way. Exhaustion hurts me and those I love. Fatigue makes me someone I don’t want to be.
A well-rested, replenished, spiritually healthy you has a lot to offer this broken world!
Think of others! And when you’re exhausted, do what you must so that you can serve others in the way they deserve.
“Better is an handful with quietness, than both the hands full with travail and vexation of spirit.” (Ecclesiastes 4:6)