In other words...
HOW TO GET LIT & STAY LIT
Youth pastors, worship leaders, preachers, teachers, intercessors… anyone in ministry typically start off full of zeal, enthusiasm, passion and endless energy… Fast forward a few years (or even months!) and they are tired, unenthusiastic, lack vision, and a little depressed as they go through the motions...
WHAT THE HECK HAPPENED?!
How do people with such an obvious and precious calling in God move from one extreme to another in such a short space of time?
Allow me to introduce you to my not-so-good friend: “burn-out”
In fact, I'm thinking of cutting her out of my life altogether - she's been a bad friend to me
Ugh, burn-out: when one fails to ensure a lamp is constantly filled with oil, the flame has nothing left to run off. It quite literally burns out - sure, you can keep attempting to light it. You might have the match, you may have material against which you can strike that match, you can even have the flame - but without the oil, your lamp will simply not stay alight. Keep trying - it’s a waste of time.
Quick note to us:
Matt 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
If you haven't figured it out by now, you're a lamp.
No, that’s not some kind of weird insult OR anything related to Aladdin. In fact, many times in scripture is mankind’s spirit likened to a lamp. Don’t believe me? Check out 1 Samuel 3:3, Matt 25:1-13 & Rev 1:20.
Lamps require oil in order to keep burning, bring warmth and light up the environment around them. Likewise, we're called to burn with passion, bring the fire of love in a world where it grows cold, & change the atmosphere around us. Scripture commands us, for our own good, to ensure we always have oil in our lamps. Why a lamp? Simply put, a lamp is a VESSEL (our heart) that contains OIL (the Spirit of God) - though it’s true we can never lose His Spirit who lives within us, we can become:
IRRESPONSIBLE LAMP TENDERS
Yeah you heard me - I just called you a lamp-tender. You have a responsibility to tend the vessel that carries that Light within you.
One of the roles of looking after the temple in ancient times was to tend the lamps - that is, to keep checking up on them, ensuring the oil was not getting low & that there was enough to keep the lamp burning all night long.
Did you know it’s your job to look after your lamp? To watch over it, keep tabs on it, tend it & replenish it.
BUSYNESS IS BURN-OUT’S BEST FRIEND
We get so busy, that we forget to tend our lamps. We wonder why the light is getting lower and dimmer - so we work harder, do more, and seek counterfeit solutions, rather than simply replenishing the oil. It’s kind of insane - like having a blunt axe and hitting harder (bruising our hands in the process) instead of just sharpening the axe head - less hits, to more effect!
Ironic as it sounds, sometimes pulling back, being still, connecting with God, and allowing Him to replenish you is the most effective thing you can do.
DO LESS, SO YOU CAN DO MORE
If your light isn’t shining as brightly as it once was, doing more won’t make you necessarily more effective. In fact, it could accomplish the very opposite. Here are some helpful indicators to tell us when it’s time to stop, say no to a few things so you can top up the lamp with oil, & let it slow-burn.
4 WARNING SIGNS THAT YOU’RE TOO BUSY
1. life in the fast lane
You love speed - no, not the drug. Although that would also prove to be a problem. When you’re too busy, to tend to want to world and everything in it to hurry. the. heck. up. You tend to walk faster, talk faster, even finishing people’s sentences because that’ll save you some time! Red traffic lights, lines at your local cafe and Nanna drivers become a way bigger problem than they used to be.
No big deal right?
The thing is, this desire for everything to be “quick & easy” follows us behind the scenes into the important areas of our life. Pretty soon you’ll want shorter sermons, microwave friendships & 7 minute formulas to get stuff out of your daily devotions rather than actual communion with Jesus. And down goes the oil level a little more…
2. all. that. clutter.
A busy life is reflected in disorderliness and chaotic mess. We shove it into the closet, that miscellaneous top drawer with batteries & random chords, the glovebox, or under the bed. It may sound trivial, but administration is a spiritual gift & order is a Kingdom attribute! In fact, whatever the Holy Spirit broods over, He brings order, design & organisation (hello Genesis 1 - the Spirit hovered over the waters and brought exactly that out of the chaos, darkness and “disorder” (Gen 1:2 Jubilee Translation).
When we walk into an environment that is clean and organised, with everything in it’s place & therefore easy to access, it hosts an atmosphere of peace. Chaos & clutter typically have the opposite effect. If your car, your room, your house, your desk - is chaotic, jumbled & disorganised, it may be a sign to slow down. An organised person is usually someone who is a good steward of time, possessions and people!
3. microwave friendships
Busyness is the enemy of depth. If you’re too busy, it’s hard to make time for significant relationships - so they remain on the surface. Why? Depth with people simply takes time. Microwave friendships are a mile long and an inch deep, but if we're trying to become everything to everyone, it's all we've got time for. Unfortunately, shallow relationships compared to deep ones are like quick microwave frozen meals compared to a slow-cooked roast. What is more nourishing? What is more satisfying? What tastes better?
If you find yourself choosing the program over people, have a million missed and unreturned calls from your parents, are constantly feeling drained around people - you are probably too busy my friend!
There’s something about the Kingdom of God that you love and feel called to - most people begin this way. But when we become too busy, it not only robs time from God but also saps the very desire to spend it with Him!
We become un-inspired and dry inside, and suddenly it all seems overwhelming and impossible. You may feel like you want to give up - but don’t fear. It doesn’t mean you’re not in your calling - it just means you’re attempting to live out your calling with little to no oil in your lamp! Ridiculous - would you blame your car for breaking down if you didn’t ever check the oil? #letsfixthatshallwe
If you don’t have time to slow down, rest and commune with God - you’re simply too busy.
Working harder will never be the solution
Yet so many people fall into this trap. Rather then topping up the oil in their lamp, they opt for more strategies, more programs, more jobs, more work and wonder why their passion continues to wane and the light continues to dim. All it will do is make you … busier!
Have you ever noticed that once a lamp is lit, it shines effortlessly - it brings warmth and light to the environment around it. It creates an attractive atmosphere with the flickering flame. It banishes darkness with it’s simple presence - no striving required. Ministry, church life, Christian living - it shouldn’t be full of striving, hard task-mastering, and religious sweat beads rolling down your forehead.
GROW YOUR NO
It is often a simple matter of saying NO to some things (like people, opportunities, & needs) so you can say YES to God - because the oil is always available & it never runs dry! Wants that "one-stop solution" promised in the blog title? Here it is! SLOW DOWN & SEEK THE GIVER OF THE FLAME WITHIN YOU!
Lamps that are full of oil are constantly shining - in fact, a well tended temple lamp in ancient times would shine all day and all night. The Spirit of God within you is MORE than enough to keep you blazing in the night seasons of hardship, and the sunny seasons of joy. Day & night baby.
Let’s get lit (sorry I couldn’t not say it again)
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