As Christians, as any right-thinking person should do, we should find ways to care for others, sharing our resources of time, talents, and treasure. But that doesn’t mean we should give and give until we have nothing left to give, having exhausted ourselves at the expense of our physical and mental well-being, our families, our relationship with God.
Yes, we are called to care. Yes, we are called to share. But we also must try to spare, saving some of the time, talents, and treasure for ourselves, so we have enough to give us the ability to keep on caring and sharing.
There is such a thing as serving too much, serving in the wrong way, serving at the wrong time, and serving for the wrong reason.
Overworking Our Good Intentions
Each of us is blessed with God-given talents and resources with which we can be a blessing. But as Aesop once asked, “Is it possible to have too much of a good thing?” Can we serve too much? Can we overwork good intentions?
Behind every good intention is a desire to help. Behind every desire to help are God-given strengths, acquired skills, and life experiences that make us who we are, and give us the ability and confidence to make good on our intentions.
However, not all efforts spawned by good intentions are beneficial. It is important we do three things before acting on our good intentions to serve.
We need to prepare ourselves for service of any kind, plan how our service fits into our lives without draining us, and most importantly, pray about it before making a commitment to serve.
Be Prepared to Count the Costs
I am the last person to minimize the importance of serving. But we need to count the costs to our physical and mental well-being, our families, and our spiritual welfare, when we suffer from “burnout” caused by our involvement in one service project after another.
You would think the Lord would want us to spend as much time as possible serving in church. But when participating in church activities overshadows the reason for serving, and the idea of accomplishing things becomes the idol, we spend less time with the person for whom we are serving, the Lord our God.
Care for others. Share with others. But make sure you spare for yourself enough physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual resources to carry on.
In God’s Words
“Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 38:41-42).
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” (Romans 12:3)
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8).
In the Words of Others
“You cannot hope to build a better world without improving the individuals. To that end, each of us must work for his own improvement, and at the same time share a general responsibility for all humanity, our particular duty being to aid those to whom we think we can be most useful. Marie Curie
In Your Words
Recall if you ever became so involved in a project that you neglected your well-being, your family, and your relationship with God? What could you have done differently?
Did you ever lose sight of why you volunteered somewhere in the first place? How did you feel at that time? Did you make changes?
Have you ever suffered from “burnout,” overworking yourself despite your good intentions? Why did it happen and what could you have done differently?