Stress, burnout, overworking… These seem to be common features of both the secular workplace and missions today.
Whilst God created work (Genesis 1:28) and commends diligence (Proverbs 21:5), we often stray well beyond that into unhealthy patterns of overwork.
Part of the Christian response to broken work patterns is God’s command to keep the Sabbath. Part is boundaries. Part is delegation. But another powerful antidote to overwork is prayer.
We often fall into unhealthy traps of overwork, because we slip into the mindset that the task depends on us. But the Bible has a bigger paradigm. We are responsible to God for our action and obedience, but He is sovereign over the unfinished task. We plant and water, but it is God who brings the fruit (1 Corinthians 3:6). It is ultimately God who brings down rulers from their thrones and lifts up the humble (Luke 1:52).
The most powerful thing that we can do, is to call on the most powerful person in the universe. When He acts, nothing will stop Him. We mustn’t just pedal hard – we must pray hard. When there’s so much to do, it takes real faith to stop, and to remind ourselves in prayer that the outcome depends on the Lord, more than it depends on us.
I recently went to visit International Justice Mission in Bangalore. I was profoundly struck seeing the whole office stop to seek the Lord for 30 minutes each morning and for 30 minutes later in the day. I don’t think I’ve seen any other organisations who ask their whole workforce to pray for one hour of each seven hour day. It expressed how keenly they realised their need of God in their amazing work.
When the task seems too big for us, we need to ‘ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest field (Matthew 9:38). We need to remind ourselves that God has the power we don’t. And we need to ask God, of all the needful things we could do, which things He wants us to do.