What about Burnout?

What about burn out?
(thoughts by Chad)
I do not know how many of these thoughts I should share. They are personal and not completely matured. Yet we desire to remain sincere and open to those who support us, because the end goal is to glorify God. Sincerely voicing the thoughts and struggles are part of the missionary process. People can never truly know unless you share, and unfortunately for the reader, when I am passionate I am also verbose (well on paper anyway). Keep in mind as you read, the context, we haven't been in the field for many years and thus we consult those who have been and are encouraged. We're aware we probably represent the youthful vitality one expects from "newbies".

Reading: Romans 9,10 and 11

I see friends in professional ministry being absorbed by the frustrations of the professional side of their work. I see movies about priests that have lost their faith. Always these movies show men who once had a lively relationship with God and now are consumed with selfish desires and have lost that connection with God. I hear of missionaries who burn out and return home from the field.

This concerns me as in Romans 9:
All those people who didn't seem interested in what God was doing actually embraced what God was doing as he straightened out their lives. 31And Israel, who seemed so interested in reading and talking about what God was doing, missed it. 32How could they miss it? Because instead of trusting God, they took over. They were absorbed in what they themselves were doing. They were so absorbed in their "God projects" that they didn't notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling. 33Isaiah (again!) gives us the metaphor for pulling this together:
Careful! I've put a huge stone on the road to Mount Zion,
a stone you can't get around.
But the stone is me! If you're looking for me,
you'll find me on the way, not in the way.

I desire to serve God with my life. God can search my heart and know that I am a wickedly selfish man. I know that I am no good on my own. I know that I seek out selfish pursuits, but also, if I possess any wisdom at all, I know that these pursuits will not end in happiness, and the only true contentment can be found in God’s presence. On top of that I know that all of these things are temporary. My life is flying past my eyes, and the only investment worth making is in God’s eternal kingdom.

Worship helps me with my focus and motivation. I read the Scripture and I see God’s character and in a world where all is failing me, where many things are empty and devoid of goodness I see God shining above it all. God is so good and so Holy. And when I concentrate on that, little else matters to me. My self fades away, my soul desires to be with God’s holiness. As if I’m taking a huge drink after years of thirst, soaking in God’s holiness. It doesn’t matter where I am or what I’m doing, so long as I’m worshiping God through thought and action, and whatever I end up doing, I need to be convinced that I’m doing it to worship the goodness of God. Right now, I’m convinced the way to do that is to go to PNG and take my family. The risk is that we would be consumed by the process and lose sight of worshiping God, which would be the failure of the project. But I see no evidence that in not going that risk becomes any less. In fact, I am anxious for the opportunity to throw my life into a situation where I am stripped of my American culture and comforts and thus can measure how much I truly depend on God for all things. And continue to live a life where I am dependant upon God.

As a westerner, there is much I do not understand about dependence.

Romans 11:
4And do you remember God's answer?
I still have seven thousand who haven't quit,
Seven thousand who are loyal to the finish.
5It's the same today. There's a fiercely loyal minority still--not many, perhaps, but probably more than you think. 6They're holding on, not because of what they think they're going to get out of it, but because they're convinced of God's grace and purpose in choosing them. If they were only thinking of their own immediate self-interest, they would have left long ago.

My selfish nature and Bible study already tell me what I will get out of serving God, assuming I do it correctly. But I also know that none of these rewards will be sufficient motivation to forebear the suffering that will most likely accompany any faith developing scenario. (I use the term faith-developing instead of testing on purpose). So these rewards are not what motivates me. There is a sense of duty, yes. A sense of doing what is right also. There is a sense of not losing face among those invested in our success as well. But these motivations will crack under the pressure too. The motivation that will truly uphold us during the times when we can’t take any more, will be because we are convinced of God’s grace and purpose in choosing us. And we are. God’s grace is immeasurable. The fact that He chose us is inconceivable. We are fully confident of this. Couple that with a daily dose of worshiping His goodness and Holiness and what you have are addicts for God.

Perhaps this pushes the illustration a bit extreme. A drug addict, will do anything for their next fix. But they also know when they’re getting fake stuff. It doesn’t have the same effect.

That is how we intend to let the Spirit be our rudder. When entering God’s presence and sensing even a sliver of His holiness becomes something we can no longer do we will know that there is an issue we need to work out and right before God.

We desire to be submissive to Him, so we can stay close to Him, because He is good. We are addicted to God's holiness, we breath it in as often as we can. When you remain in this state, you eyes and ears and heart maintain a sensitivity to the Spirit that helps guide.

The risk of losing sight of God's plan is the same at home as it would be in the field. The pressures are strong against you whenever you are doing what God would have you do. The cultural adaptation stress can be a huge factor. As a missionary you are more in the public eye. A spiritual failure at home can go unnoticed, but a spiritual failure in the field will not go unnoticed. Also though, the stigma that comes with a missionary returning before retiring is that perhaps they failed in their mission. It's sad but that is an assumption that some folks make "what went wrong?" Maybe nothing went wrong at all. But that is a different topic.

We refuse to disobey God's call because the risk for failure is great. The risk of embarrassment is great. Failure is simply not an option. My family has been specifically prepared for this, we have been specifically called. We have the qualities required for success both in faith, character and personality. I can give you a very convincing resume of why we are very well suited for the work before us, and odds are you already know us and are convinced of our abilities yourself (otherwise you would not be supporting us). But none of that matters. There is only one requirement God needs and that is willingness. We are obedient and willing and submissive to what God puts on our hearts. God does the rest. In fact He even accomplishes the obedience and willingness simply by means of being who He is. He is completely good, and completely Holy. We are compelled to Him. We are not relying on odds or on pedigrees, we are relying solely on God's provision. God will not fail, and thus we will cling to His coat tails the entire way.

Yes the pressures of cultural adaptation will be great. Yes the spiritual warfare will be present. Yes financial pressure will be a stress. There is a long list of reasons why we can fail. God is greater than all of them, God does not fail. We can fail, we will fail. God will prove faithful and compensate.

As partners in this ministry you have opened yourselves up for failure as well. You have committed to pray for us, and the more effective our ministry is at tearing down the strongholds of Satan, the more the people who pray for us will be under attack. Few consider this. Know that God overcomes. God is faithful.

And so, when the times come where we feel we want to give up, we will first go to God and admit it. We will ask God to shore us up, to meet us and supply. No one truly seeks to suffer, but we will not shy from it when it comes. We expect hardship, something that as Americans who have been blessed our entire lives is not something that we confront often. So when it comes, many people will wonder if we will be able to handle it or not. We don't know ourselves, but we do know that our instinctive reaction will be to plead to God for help through it. We do not ask to avoid pain, but we desire to seek God's face in the midst of it, and in the end, be more fit to glorify God.

We look forward to blogging the great stories of God proving faithful. For where the odds are their worst, when things seem impossible, those are the places that God absolutely shines without doubt. We are so anxious for those times, because it brings us all closer to God. Pray for those times for yourself and each other. Pray that this ministry would be a collective of submissive servants who live only so that God can be glorified.
Burnout is a reality. Stress can be overwhelming. Wycliffe has mandatory counciling and has good training and preparation for handling stress. We have been reading books and studying to prepare. Many practical steps have been taken to assure the full success of this ministry, but in the end, it comes down to the reality of every situation in life. How much are we going to try and handle without God? The answer is 0.00% There isn't any success to be had on our own.

after re-reading this I realize that we have already undergone some spiritual attack and stress and suffering. In each instance, as a couple we immediately turned to God in prayer. In each instance, God met us there quickly and completely and so amazingly "God-like" that it was undeniably Him. The term "God-thing" applies because it is during these moments of sorrow, stress, weakness, complete humanity, that God is glorified because only He fit those jigsaw like missing pieces of the puzzle.

The story we blogged about my daughter carrying the backpack for my wife was such an example of God supplying for us when we were needing encouragement greatly.



well, since we're not really sure at what time we'll be leaving or ready to go, we're in a mode of.... preparing. Faithfully working towards the idea that the money will come in before January '07.

we're planning to pack for a trip to a place we've never lived in.
so what do we bring?
Well first we talk to a lot of folks who live there or have lived there, and take in all their advice.

Then we look at our belongings and consider what can stay and what needs to go. Ironically we look forward to simplifying our lives, and yet have been advised to buy many things unobtainable over there. Like advil.

In the midst of this we are keeping in mind the idea of simple living. Depending on God. And balancing that with our passion to create a home environment for people.

for me personally, it seems very silly to be asking "how many computers should I bring?"

one for me, one for the wife, one for the kids, one for spare parts, one as a server...... really how many is "enough".

For my wife the question is photo albums, we're told not to bring anything we can't afford to lose at first... should something go wrong somewhere in the shipping process.

and then... we'll most likely need to move all of this stuff multiple times a year.

Managing this issue of "stuff" is a blessing to us from God because my wife and I are rather compatible in this area. Neither of us are too materialistic. Both of us have our areas of "i need this..." and each of us can be stretched and challenged enough to adapt that it makes it an adventure.

We both loved "colonial house" (a pbs special). The idea of getting away from dependence on technology, of a return to simplicity.

Now we are facing the reality of making choices... what stays, what goes, and what needs to be purchased for whatever reason to take with us?

Whatever decisions are made, we'll survive and be strengthened by any "lack" we might experience.

We also hope that it will develop a truer sense of priorities. Even if we think our priorities are right now, there is nothing like good old fashion testing your mettle.

-----Prayer Requests----
-that financial partnership reaches 100% by August 2006
-someone will be able to supply storage for our belongings that stay behind
-a partner that will pray daily for our children
-a partner that will pray daily for us
-physical conditioning to be able to handle the training camp 3 day backpacking hike.


What's next

well we are working on finding the people who want to partner with us in prayer and or financially. We have spoken in a few groups, and right now see our ministry as a process of informing and discovering. Our home church is having a missions emphasis month and so we're involved in helping other missionaries where we can.

We're writing a lot of letters right now, and seeing where that leads.

We're at 23% of our goal right now, and we're hoping to be at 100% before August but that all depends on God's timing.

This part of the process is the part where there might not be as much to blog primarily because financial matters inherently involve a bit of privacy.

But we can still talk about what God is doing and what He is showing us. Right now He is showing us how wonderfully excited so many of you are about us as friends and about our joining together in ministry!