The crazy thing about burn-out is that you don’t notice it until it hits you full-force. I didn’t see the slow creep of weariness that had been apparently sneaking upon my soul for months. Then all of the sudden the biggness of everything was bearing down on me as never before. It was just another day, and then all the sudden the burden felt too heavy to carry.
I had spent years building a ministry, a platform (as that’s the new fancy word these days.) My days were a blur of focusing on numbers, stats, organization, and everything else it took to grow a ministry and make a difference.
And when the burn-out burden hit I began to question whether any of this energy spent on the big made a difference. Numbers seemed too big and the need so great that my passion began to fade.
My heart was dying.
I totally understand that if you or something is not growing, it is dying. Shoot, I have plants around my house that remind me of that daily. Don’t tell anyone . . . but unfortunately, try as I may they are withering up and dying.
It’s so easy to tell when my plants are dying. Their leaves droop or change colors. I try my best to resuscitate them, but death always takes over. But with me, I didn’t realize I was dying on the inside. I was withering up.
Behind the scenes of a miracle.
Remember the story in the Bible where Jesus fed the 5000 with just a lunch of fish and bread. (John 6) That’s a big incredible story full of a huge miracle. But these days my mind keeps going to the behind-the-scenes of what was going on.
Jesus had been traveling, healing and performing various miracles. People had begun to follow him by the thousands from place to place. The disciples had witnessed so much, but yet I can only imagine were growing weary. Shoot – maybe they were on the verge of burn-out too! But the ministry continued to grow right before their very eyes. It was growing big. Fast.
Everyone this day was exhausted and hungry. Thousands of people were probably getting a little testy. Jesus sees the need and tells the disciples to fill it by feeding the people.
The disciples who were beyond weary and worn-out had totally forgot about the miracles they had just witnessed on the road with Jesus. So they freaked out! I can just see the attitude, “Are you kidding me? It would take a 1/2 a years wages to feed this crowd. We don’t have the money. We don’t have the resources. How in the world do you think we are going to do this, Jesus?”
While they are bickering and on the verge of quitting from this seemingly crazy request, a small boy is trying to interrupt and get their attention.
“Hey you guys! Look at me. I’m small. My lunch is small. HEY YOU! I think I might have something here.” But the disciples are too caught up in the big to see the small.
We hear this story and are amazed by the 5000. Our souls scream, “I want to feed 5000. I want to grow 5000. I want to make a difference to 5000.” We are all about the big. Somewhere we’ve fallen prey to this thought that if we are BIG, then we must definitely be making a difference. And the reverse that if we aren’t big, we are not significant.
I’m captivated lately by the small. The small boy and the small lunch.
While the disciples focused on the big and the enormous request Jesus had made, this young boy made available his small. And his small contribution made a huge difference.
It was his small lunch that led to the miracle. His small self that made the difference in 5000 that day.
This young boy wasn’t focused on the numbers or organization. He just wanted to meet a need. He wanted to make a difference. And he did!
Without this small boy, there would be no miracle recorded for us to read. And 5000 would have been left hungry that day. Let’s remember that we can only talk about the miraculous feeding of the 5000 because of the 1. One is small, but one is oh so significant!
You don’t need to be big to make a difference.
If we could put our modern-day selves into this story, I think we’d react as the disciples. We’d be exasperated that Jesus would ask such a thing of us when He could clearly see that there weren’t resources to handle these 5000.
But I think we’d take it a step further than the disciples. We’d say “OK, I hear what you’re saying Jesus. Let me get a plan together and get right on that.” So we’d set out to get a ministry name and a plan for growth.
Oh how we have perverted what true ministry is. And quite frankly, sometimes the word “ministry” just tires me out these days. But give me just one person to encourage and I’m fueled with passion.
Friend, since you and I can’t quit as we work through our burn-out (read here), let’s strip down our notions of what ministry is or isn’t. Let’s begin to focus on the small. Let’s serve where no ministry name or growth plan is required. Let’s get back to focusing on the one. One person. One life. One miracle.
Instead of walking into a church and seeing the number of people, let’s focus on the one person who might need an encouraging word.
Instead of focusing on how many friends you have on facebook, how about focusing on the one friend who needs a listening ear over a cup of coffee.
Instead of seeing a city full of homeless souls who need a meal to get through the hot days of summer, how about focusing on the one at the corner that you can give a gift card to.
And the list goes on.
It’s all about encouraging one. When you connect with one, life change is around the corner. And miracles can happen, still today!
See just one.
Are you craving the small? Does serving just one lift a heavy burden off you to reach the masses?