No Más!

unknownPanamanian professional boxer Roberto Duran is considered to be one of the greatest fighters in history earning championship belts in four different weight classes.  The boxing world called him respectfully “Hands of Stone” because of his punching power.  Ironically, he is best known for losing his punch and quitting right in the middle of his championship fight with Sugar Ray Leonard, exclaiming, “no más” or no more.  Instead of going out a champion, the way he lived most of his life, Duran ended his boxing career and hung up his gloves perceived by the boxing world as a quitter.

The pressure is on believers all over the world to do the same thing.  The enemy knows that we are more than conquerors through Jesus, that we are always led in triumph in Christ, and that we have the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith.  He cannot defeat us so he focuses instead on trying to provoke us into quitting because he knows that he cannot win without our willful surrender.  He could never defeat you, affect your right standing with God, or ever get God not to love you, but he can and does do everything he can to get you to quit on your right believing and right living.  So, all over the body of Christ too many Christians and Christian leaders are hanging up their gloves and quitting their spouses, cutting off friends, leaving their churches, vacating their ministries, and bankrupting their destinies.  Why?  Because they became weary in doing good instead of holding on to the promise that they would reap in due season if they did not quit (Galatians 6:9).  They started to focus on the limited negative at the expense of all the positive.

Every assignment, every attack, every confrontation, every disappointment, every setback, every loss, every inspired criticism, every agenda, and every perceived slight is designed to get you to quit, because quitting gets you off the path of God, and that was the devil’s goal all along.  Quitting indicates a believer has become demonized and is under the influence of the enemy and captive to do his will.  Regardless of whether we do it in the thralls of discouragement, the depths of depression, a fit of anger or offense, or with an arrogant smile on our face, quitting in violation of God’s word and will is a clear indicator that the enemy has pushed our buttons long enough that our troubled minds and roller coaster emotions are now driving our decisions rather than the voice of the Holy Spirit.

In these challenging times, the Lord would have us keep punching, to never give in, and to never give up.  That’s why he commanded (not just encouraged) Joshua to not be discouraged (Joshua 1).  Discouragement is a loss of spiritual courage, and the loss of that courage always precedes quitting.  I know as a believer and Christian leader that there are times you just want to hang it up, but the Lord needs you in your place, your family needs you to be steady, the Church needs you to be stable, and the world desperately needs you to model the hope you profess.

When you feel like quitting (1) on purpose put off that decision to quit, (2) take the time to flood your heart with the word of God and prayer, (3) get around people who are uplifting, challenging, and encouraging, (4) refuse to make decisions based on negative feelings or thoughts, (5) and remember God NEVER forgets a seed sown.  No matter how things look, you WILL reap in due season IF you do not quit!

Burnout Prevention

I recently came across this backhanded and satirical approach to preventing burnout in your life and ministry by Christian leader Scott Crouchenour (say that name five names real fast). His article is called, “How to Burnout in 5 Easy Steps.” I will share some interactive thoughts underneath the following article:

Staying strong is overrated. All this talk about avoiding the wall? Hooey. You were born to burnout. You were meant for serving weak. Want a quick way to burnout in ministry leadership? Here are 5 easy steps:

Seek Unforgiveness. Someone hurt you lately? Cool. Here’s what you do: Hold a grudge. That’s right. Don’t give in to the temptation to be the weaker one. Keep steady. Better yet, give them the silent treatment. Yeah! It will teach them a lesson and you’ll be well on your way to burning out.

Pursue Passionlessness. Ask yourself this question: “What ministry fuels my passion?” Got your answer? Good. Now do something (anything) that is the opposite of your answer. Do the thing that is a total drag for you. Give it your all. Seek the boredom. Revel in the difficulty. It will annoy those around you and you’ll be well on your way to burning out.

Engage In Prayerlessness. Got prayer concerns? Want to touch the heart of God? Want to seek and sense His will for your life? Forget it. You’re looking to burnout, right? Good. Then cut ALL prayer from your routine. Don’t pray in the morning. Don’t pray when you’re stressed or sad. And don’t pray when things are going well. Think of the time you’ll save.  It will grieve the Holy Spirit and you’ll be well on your way to burning out.

Be An Impostor. Are you introverted by nature? Be extroverted. Are you methodical? Be spontaneous. Are you a people person? Then be a recluse. You have to understand that being yourself is simply going to keep you from burning out. So don’t be yourself. Better yet, try to be just like someone else. It will irritate your loved ones and you’ll be well on your way to burning out.

Over-identify. In your work with others, you will feel their pain. This is good. Dwell on it. Identify it so deeply that you begin to feel responsible for it. This will give you ownership of their pain, as though you were the cause. You will sink in the quicksand of their misery. You won’t be able to help them because you’ll be so depressed yourself. This will help others become co-dependent and you’ll be well on your way to burning out.

So you see, if you are interested in burning out, it’s quite simple really. Just follow these 5 easy steps and we’ll see you in rehab!

In response to this thought provoking article, let me encourage you to (1) Be quick to forgive. Remember that holding on to bitterness is like drinking poison and expecting the other guy to die; (2) Focus on what you are passionate about. While it is true that we all have to do things that do not thrill us, for the most part you should be focusing on those areas that energize you and are life-giving; (3) It’s time to seek the face of God like never before. Burnout is accelerated when there is no living contact because time in God’s presence is the number one vital need for the believer. How long can we live without oxygen? We won’t live long without God’s breath in our lives as well; (4) Reject any influence to be anything you are not. Throughout history, God has used all types of personalities to do great exploits in His name. Focus on walking in love, compassion, integrity, and authenticity. As one theologian has said, “preaching is truth through personality.” Work on the weaknesses of your personality but allow the Lord to use the unique person that you have become; and (5) Remember that you are not the savior and you are not to take responsibility or ownership for the poor choices of people or the pain they experience in life. We are called to bind up the wounds and help heal hurting hearts but we cannot if we become codependent in the relationship or the enabler.