Posted on Leave a comment

Are You Tired of Being a Christian?

How to turn your exhausting religion into an enjoyable relationship

“If my activism, however well-motivated, drives out love, I am stuck with law, not the gospel of grace. then I have misunderstood Jesus’ gospel.” 

Phillip Yancey, What’s So Amazing About Grace?

Depleted Yet Applauded

Have you ever met someone who is more interested in complaining about being exhausted than they are in receiving help? Burnout is the red badge of courage for some Christians. They would rather live depleted yet applauded than refreshed and balanced. A balanced life is not as attractive to them because it often goes unnoticed.  

What is the draw of exhaustion? It is where you find your justification to complain, compare, and criticize when you are stuck in a religious performance trap. It causes you to feel protected from criticism when you fall short. “How could I have done anything wrong? Look at how hard I work!” 

It also re-enforces your offense when you do not get what you think you deserve. “Why are they being promoted instead of me? I have cooked and cleaned while they have wasted time instead of working!”

Martha, Did You Know?

What did Mary know in Luke 10:38-42 that Martha did not?

A “Martha” measures her prayers, Bible reading, and serving. Her spiritual speedometer makes it easier to determine what she deserves and what others do not. The problem with this practice is you never really know what is going on with others behind closed doors. That is God’s business and not yours.

A “Mary” may seem to neglect some things, but she does not lose sight of the most important thing. Her reward is not in getting recognized, but rather in experiencing the pleasure of God’s presence. She usually ends up getting both.

It can be hard to see someone receive more for doing less, but that is not what this is all about. If things really were fair none of us would like what we got. 

I used to be a Martha myself. I took pride in having a hard time resting. I always felt I needed to be doing something. “I must be more committed than others,” I thought, “because I do not even enjoy taking a break.” 

This line of thinking should be a red alert on the dashboard of your spiritual life. It is not a medal of accomplishment you hang proudly around your neck. It reveals a restless soul that is not at peace.

The Performance Trap

As I have said before, you should value your position in Christ over your performance for Christ. When you over-emphasize performance, you end up getting less of it. Eventually, this leads to religious burnout. 

The Christian performance trap wants you to believe it is unspiritual to ever say no to spiritual things. The reality is, it is not spiritual to always say yes to more. It is more spiritual to say, “yes” to your priorities, the things God has asked you to do, and “no” to good things that take you away from those things.

Religious Formulas

Your good works should be motivated by your love relationship with Jesus and not a spiritual reward system. You make God your debtor when you work hard because you think He will bless you with what you want at the end of your labors (position, recognition, etc.).

Religious formulas like this can also influence how you pray and navigate problems. For example, “If I pray or do this, and have enough faith, then God will do that.” This mindset boxes God in to only what you can understand. It offers a easy fix to your problems that resembles a “get rich quick” scheme. The problem is, you inevitably become discouraged in your relationship with God when things do not work out the way you thought they would. 

All of this adds an unnecessary weight to your spiritual journey. 

It can be hard to follow the Holy Spirit day-to-day instead of trusting in things that bring immediate comfort. Checking off a box seems easier than checking-in with God. The box does not challenge us or require waiting. Even so, we should always choose a relationship with a living God over dead religious formulas. 

A Labor of Love

Exhaustion often begins with passion, zeal, and good intentions. You may be able to lift something you were never meant to carry, but you will drop it before you reach your destination. Lay down your heavy burden of burnout Christianity and take up the yoke of Christ. It is easy and light. It is a labor of love.

Posted on Leave a comment

What Motivates You

Managing the tension between justice and mercy

Are you more justice leaning or are you quick to offer mercy? Both can be great attributes of any person. There is also another sometimes hidden factor that if not discovered will cause either to divide a team and cause you to be less productive.

The Justice League

I’ve always been fascinated by the tension between justice and mercy and how it motivates people one way or another. I am a justice oriented person. When I watch a movie where someone is mistreated it causes me to tear up. I want to fight on behalf off the person who is hurting. Justice motivates me to act on another’s behalf. That’s not all though

Some people may say I enjoy conflict because I am not afraid to enter a confrontation to make things right. That’s not really true though. I don’t like confrontation. I just love seeing justice win the day. I am willing to be inconvenienced or uncomfortable for the long-term good of justice.

What it is really about

If I am honest though sometimes my sense of justice is can become more about me then it is about justice.

When others are not as invested in our cause us justice leaguers can become upset. Part of this is about justice, but it can also be about others not doing as much as we have. In other words, justice-oriented people need to make sure their passion for justice is not just about them getting credit for doing more than everyone else.

Where does this leave mercy-oriented people? Are those likable, friendly, and forgiving people who everyone loves off the hook. Not really.

The Merciful and Kind

Godly mercy is a great thing. It is an attribute that reflects the kindness of God. Some would say that we are most like God when we forgive. But being merciful can also be motivated by self-interest as well.

If you are extending mercy because you are avoiding an issue then your mercy has taken a wrong turn. God is patient but He is also just. Being mercy-oriented becomes self-focused when it leads to inaction. Mercy is only mercy when it causes us to act, be intentional, and takes steps to help better someone else’s situation.

Mercy is what we give to those who have made mistakes as they enter the road to recovery. It is not what we hand out to avoid dealing with problems.

What slows down justice and mercy

We need justice and we need mercy. What we don’t need is self-centeredness. Whenever we mix in selfishness to justice and mercy we pollute the parts of us that make us like God. If we are willing to be selfless then justice and mercy can work together to make a healthy leaders and teams.

Have you ever noticed the tension between justice and mercy? What have you learned along the way? I’d love to hear your thoughts!