Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Burnt Out

Sometimes you sit down on the couch at the end of a hectic day and you realize just how tired you are. That's what happened to me over Labor Day weekend. I have been writing and creating and thinking and speaking all summer long, and I'm burnt out. With preaching at churches, my 4 day retreat at Laity Lodge, writing 4 lengthy articles, and all the intellectual and emotional work that goes into writing a book, I have nothing left.

Ruth Haley Barton talks about a "dangerous level of tired." Most of the interpretations I have heard about the infamous David and Bathsheba story usually focus on David's idleness, at home when his soldiers are fighting a war, but I would guess that the springboard to his fall is weariness. He was tired from the battle, tired of the enormous pressures of being king, and so he allowed his eye to wander and to seek a feeling of pleasure when he was in the midst of pain. That worked out badly for him and for ancient Israel. 

I have not reached a dangerous level of tired, and I want to make sure that I don't. I want to pay attention to my body and my mind, which are, in unison, shouting "stop!" So for the month of September I will put away my laptop and my smartphone, and will not write, blog, or be on social media at all.

This is not a very advisable move, from a professional standpoint. The blog literally doubled in readership over the summer and even had its first sponsor for a month. I just went over 1,000 followers on Twitter. After a couple of years of hearing howling crickets in my speaking career, I have started receiving more invitations. I fear that this decision will kill the momentum that was happening and that I will lose the followers that I had gained.

But this isn't a decision based on ambition, it's a decision based on trust. I want to trust that I am not solely responsible for the growth of my writing career, and that my writing isn't based on self-promotion, sales, or numbers anyway. I thank God that he has given me a voice and has given me opportunities to use it in service of others. Ultimately I want for my readers to hear his Voice working through mine, and the great thing is that the Voice will continue to speak to people even when mine has gone silent for a time.

So, for the next month, I will be continuing my work as a hospice chaplain, taking a couple of trips, reading some devotional material (and nothing else), getting outside in the cooler weather, and spending time with family and friends. My next post will be an Introvert Saturday guest post on October 1st. See you then!