Find Rest When You Are Exhausted From Helping Others
Read God’s Word for Yourself
For many years, I was superwoman—or so I thought. I would offer solutions when they weren’t requested, encouraging others and solving their problems. I was busy recommending devotionals to read and sermons to watch. I was studying Scripture to help others, but little did I realize I was never reading it for myself. I quickly shared what I was learning, rather than internalizing it, leaving me unchanged and malnourished.
But then my family experienced a tragedy. For the first time, I couldn’t fix the problem. I couldn’t do anything to help. Instead of grieving, I pushed my feelings to the side to try and support my loved ones. Soon, I was running on fumes and had nothing else to give.
Here are a few steps you can take to make sure you get the nourishment and care you need as a leader. Try these three tips when you feel like you are walking through the fog, running on fumes, or find yourself reading God’s Word for others but not yourself.
1. Breathe and Be Still
“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NIV).
When was the last time you were still and took time to just breathe? Try it right now. Pause. Close your eyes and slowly inhale and exhale 3 times.
Focused breathing allows us to re-center. Breathing is free, yet so many take no time to truly do this. Deep breathing has many benefits including a “reduction in stress and blood pressure, strengthening of abdominal and intestinal muscles and relief of general body aches and pains. It also promotes better blood flow, releases toxins from the body and aids in healthy sleep.”
You may have heard the common idiom: we are called human- be-ings and not human-do-ings. We need rest, times of being still and not working. This concept is played out well in the familiar story of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). While Martha was busy trying to get things in order because Jesus was visiting, Mary was sitting at his feet. Jesus said to Martha, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (GNT). Have you been more like Mary or Martha lately? Check in with yourself periodically throughout the day to ask this question.
2. Pray Truthfully
“In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears” (Psalm 18:6 NIV).
How often do you go to the Lord for yourself? To tell God what you need? To ask God for strength or wisdom? To thank God? If you know you’re not ok, tell the Lord. God can handle it. Make a point of practicing complete honesty in your prayer life.
There have been times when my prayers were very surface level, when I was using all the correct “church” phrases but I wasn’t being truthful. At those times, I needed to tell the Lord, “I have no idea what to do, I need help,” or “Lord, I don’t want to do this anymore. It’s too hard. I think I made a mistake. I need help to keep going.”
The Lord already knows, but God’s Word invites us to take our troubles to God. What burdens are you carrying that you could surrender to the Lord?
3. Don’t Do Life Alone
“Two people are better than one, because they can reap more benefit from their labor. For if they fall, one will help his companion up, but pity the person who falls down and has no one to help him up” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NET).
We cannot do life alone. But so many of us have tried to do so. Why is this? We see asking for help as weak. We don’t want to bother others. We are supposed to have all of the answers. We don’t want to be a burden. But if we are open to serving others who reach out for help, why can’t we do the same? Do you think the people you help are weak, burdensome, bothersome? On the flip side, do you believe you are burdening the Lord?
Take a moment right now and think about who you can reach out to when you’re struggling and need prayer and support. Take a step towards reaching out to a trusted friend, colleague, or counselor today. And be sure to find some time to study the Word for yourself, too! God wants to nourish you just as you nourish others.
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