Like every other morning, I awoke at 6 o’clock to write and study. By 7:00, it was time to rotate to my next usual station, performing the talented task of making breakfasts and lunches simultaneously. Only this time it is Saturday, so my girls are sleeping in and I am only making one lunch for my husband. I send him off to his second job, working for my dad as a landscaper, as we make a plan to meet up at my mom’s by 5:00 for our first round of Easter dinners. Okay. Maybe I have some more writing time I can squeeze in before making my two Martha Stewart crispy coconut chocolate pies, utilizing my new Pinterest tip of baking the eggs we are going to dye later, and getting my daughter ready for softball practice by 11:00. I was too ambitious. I had all of five minutes to get dressed while barking orders at my children, pouring boiling heavy whipping cream over baking chocolate, and giving my daughter the perfect ponytail for practice. Somehow I missed the memo that the practice was going to be held at a local church instead of our usual place. I drove to the wrong field, making us 15 minutes late.
Pulling up to the new location, I remember that this field doesn’t have any bleachers or picnic tables and I didn’t bring a chair. But, we finally have a sunny day in the 50’s. So I backed the Traverse up, folded the back seats down, and hopped in the back with the trunk door open. Then I desperately whipped out my copy of Burnout! This two-hour break has provided a great refreshment before I return to the messy kitchen I left, Easter egg dying, a workout, and trying to make sure my kids are presentable for Mimi’s house.
I fear burnout. I love life, and I don’t ever want my passions to quell. But I’m also painfully aware of the prayer my husband and I prayed together as the month of April was approaching. “Lord, we are blessed with so many wonderful opportunities, that it is overwhelming. Help us not to say yes to more things than we can handle.” Hambrick reminds us that “Every good opportunity is not from God or, at least, is not necessarily God’s will for your life” (Loc. 69). Those of us who are energized to take on all the wonderful opportunities in life are more susceptible to burnout as well. “Those who are not passionate about life do not experience burnout” (63).
The author helps us to distinguish the motives behind all of our “yeses.” “Part of submitting to God’s lordship over our life is to live within the limitations with which he created us” (Loc. 144). This statement was a bit revolutionary for me. It revealed my rebellious heart in trying to do more than God has created me for. Now that I am sitting in the back of my car rereading my notes and typing this, I am even more impacted by this truth. And it ties so well to the gospel solution to burnout that I read at the end of this book today. Because Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father, “we can have restful hearts in the midst of our service to him” (Loc. 466). Hambrick also provides many other motives behind our endeavors that I encourage you to read for yourself. I was convicted by several.
There is a wealth of practical advice in this short read. While we have sinful motives behind the sin of our over-performance problem, there are also necessary time management skills that can equip us with pulling off our commitments. “Burnout is the result of living beyond our means with the time God has provided” (Loc. 110). Hambrick devotes a good portion of the book to teaching the reader about a “time budget.” Budgeting your time is a lot like budgeting your money, and you need to be intentional about how you will spend.
Many will benefit from this section. There is much wisdom in it. However, I will have to admit that I am not one who thrives off of this precise budgeting. It actually zaps my joy. This is the same reason I don’t count calories. Looking at my time all mapped out for me makes me feel like I have already lived it all, and like I’m imprisoned to the calendar. Both time budgets and planned dieting are wonderfully advantageous for many, but they actually make me want to rebel more. When the author begins rationing the amount of hours we should devote to sleep, work, family, service, recreation, and the like, I do agree with the categories for the time budget and see how the principles are biblical. But I am definitely thankful for his footnote that some will only use these as a general parameter. The numbers provoke rebellion in me. When he recommends 50 hours of sleep per week, I want to say I can do it in 45.
I think Hambrick recognizes this propensity when he says later in the book, “Practical writings have a strong tendency to only reinforce burnout,” recognizing his own helpful book will do just this if we take it as “do more get better” and not grasp his greater message of gospel application. I was glad that he added this important part, and think it may have done well for him to introduce the practical section with this disclaimer.
The whole book has benefited me in that Hambrick has covered all the bases. My awareness has been raised, my sin exposed, I have found respite in the gospel, and I am encouraged and equipped to move on. And would you believe that I budgeted this joyful experience of reflection and review precisely to the last minute of softball practice? Time to praise my girl for her awesome skill and hard work in practice, and take her home to dye Easter eggs…renewed and with joy.
*Thanks to Netgalley for supplying this copy of Burnout in exchange for an honest review