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Grace-Paced Living in a Burnout Culture

Grace Multiplies

The multiplying power of grace is rare in burned-out lives. Back on the assembly line, some of the Christian workers are driven by production targets. If they fall short of their daily quota of Bibles, they go home totally depressed because, “For every Bible we fail to print and package, that’s a soul unreached.” As everything depends on their sweat and muscle, they work tons of overtime and hardly have any time for personal prayer.

Mrs. Grace, however, works normal hours and yet has time and peace to pray for God’s blessing on each Bible that passes through her hands. She works hard, but she depends on God’s grace to multiply her work. She realizes that while one plants, and another waters, it’s God that gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Grace Releases

The releasing power of grace has often been lacking when a person burns out. Mr. Controller, for example, thinks everything depends on him. He gets involved in every step of the production process, constantly annoying fellow workers with his micro-management. He’s infuriated by any breakdown in production, yelling at people and even the machines when they mess up. He says he believes in “sovereign grace,” but he’s the sovereign, and grace is limited to personal salvation.

In contrast, Mrs. Grace realizes God is sovereign even in the nuts and bolts of life and releases control of everything into his hands. She works carefully, but humbly submits to setbacks and problems, accepting them as tests of her trust in God’s control (Matthew 18:21–35).

Grace Receives

Another void in many breakdowns is the receiving power of grace. Unlike Mrs. Grace, most of her bosses and fellow-workers refuse to accept many of God’s best gifts. They won’t receive the grace of a weekly Sabbath (Exodus 20:8–11).

Yet, instead of humbly receiving them, most refuse and reject them, thinking that such graces are for the weak. Yes, it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). But if we don’t do any receiving, our giving will soon dry up.

As long as these five grace-disconnects dominate the lives of Christians, the wrecking yard is going to keep filling with broken and burned out believers. But by connecting God’s grace more and more to our daily lives—by growing in grace—we can learn how to live a grace-paced life in a burnout culture.

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Dr. David Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Seminary. He is also Pastor of Grand Rapids Free Reformed Church. David is the author of Christians get depressed too, How Sermons Work, and Jesus on Every Page. You can read his blog at HeadHeartHand.org/blog or follow him on Twitter @davidpmurray. David is married to Shona and they have five children ranging from 4 months to 17 years old, and they love camping, fishing, boating, and skiing in the Lake Michigan area.