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How You Can Overwork Good Intentions

Word, "good intentions," on paper showing how we overwork our good intentions.

Each of us is blessed with God-given talents and resources with which we can be a blessing and of service to others. But as Aesop once asked, “Is it possible to have too much of a good thing?” Can we serve too much? Can we overwork our 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 you who you are, and give you the ability and confidence to make good on your intentions. However, not all efforts spawned by good intentions are beneficial.

Downside of Overworking Good Intentions

Hell is not necessarily paved with good intentions, as the saying goes, but overworking your good intentions can pave a slippery slope with the oil of negative consequences when you get trapped into doing too much at the expense of your physical, social, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.

Serving too much, the wrong way, at the wrong time.

There are the “go-getters” who tackle a project with 120% effort, devoting all their time and energy to accomplishing what needs to get done. They invest themselves in making things happen, and accomplishing goals and objectives at all costs. Unfortunately, they often fail to count the costs to their physical and mental well-being, their families, and their spiritual welfare.

I am the last person to minimize the importance of volunteerism. However, I’ve seen cases of volunteer “burnout” caused by persons getting deeply involved in one service project after another.

Spending Less Time with Him You Serve

You would think the Lord would want you 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, you spend less time with the person for whom you are serving, the Lord our God.

There are many things as Christians and right-thinking persons we should be doing, but that doesn’t mean we should do them all or do them at the expense of our physical and mental well-being, our families, and our relationship with God.

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.

Martha's Lesson

As Martha learned from Jesus in Luke 10:38-42, being caught up in activity and anxious about servicing distracts us from attending to the “good portion” in our lives.

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, and most importantly, pray about it before making a commitment.

Additional reading:

Listen to God's Words

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)

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. (Proverbs 11:25)

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)

Also read: Matthew 6:1-4, Luke 10:38-42, Romans 7:13-25

In the Words of Others

“Good intentions but bad results; bad results but lessons learned. There is a dark corner on every task beautiful and a beautiful corner on every task dark.” Criss Jami

“Good intentions might sound nice, but it’s positive actions that matter.” Tim Fargo

Think About It

  • Was there a time when you became so involved in a project that you taxed your physical well-being and family relationships? Describe what you could have done differently.

  • Did you ever lose sight of why you volunteered in the first place? If it was a church project, how was God served?

  • Have you ever suffered from volunteer “burnout?” Why did it happen and what could you have done differently?

Information about Midlife Plus Christian Life Coaching


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