I am taking an online class for deacons on Pastoral Counseling, and right now we are in group discussions on burnout. Each of us, and there are 12, have added our reflection on what causes burnout and how to combat it. One thing that stands out is that we seem to think that it happens easier when we sacrifice our dialog with God in favor of doing for others. Almost to a person this seems to be the case. I think this is true of any Christian – when we reduce our dialog with God our actions, be it Christianly or not, will eventually wear us thin. When this happens we run the very great risk of losing site of God’s message. We might think we are being good disciples in our works but we are missing the all important piece of our life – the part that strengthens us to help others – God’s personal relationship with us.
In today’s gospel we hear Jesus tell the Pharisees and elders “Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures: `The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a nation producing the fruits of it.” And is seems to me that he was pointing out to the religious leaders that in be busy doing what they perceived as sacred things they missed the message God was giving them. They missed what it meant to be a follower of God and as a result they were hurting themselves.
My prayer for all of us is that we prioritize our lives as God would want. First, love God, talk with God, take the time to be truly in this relationship; then love our neighbor as our selves. We can’t help our neighbor in this most important journey if we are drained, burned out, lost to God’s loving communication. We run the very risk of being like the Pharisees and leaders, who missing the message run the risk of God taking away His companionship and sharing it with others.