There's a "Good Tired" and a "Bad Tired"

There’s a good tired and there’s a bad tired, a good (discontent) and a bad discontent, and yeah, I believe there’s a good depression and a bad depression. Every Christian seeking to live in mission has got to discern between these two paths regularly.

A “good tired” results from one exerting oneself out of one’s passion ordered into the work God has given him/her. It is the result of offering up one’s body to the work of the Lord. It is the result of seeing whatever tasks God has given me for the day – whether it be work, parenting, prayer, ministry, housecleaning – as work done unto His glory for His purposes. Out of a posture of dependence upon God the Holy Spirit, the opening of our hands to the Holy Spirit’s indwelling power, we work with joy and then get tired. We end the day tired but deeply satisfied. I love days lived like this.

But there is a bad tired which is debilitating. It comes from being overwhelmed by all that lies ahead. It comes from seeing I have too many things to accomplish and it’s all on me to get it done. I am trying to do all this in my own energy. I am sighing. I am sighing.

I must learn how to order these tasks and then most importantly I must learn how to walk daily in dependence, hands open, to the infilling of the Spirit. It is not my work. It is participating with God in His work for the day, whatever that work might be.

There is also, I believe, a good discontent and a bad discontent. The good discontent is a holy discontent born out of a desire to see God’s Kingdom come. When one sees people around him/her blocked by fears and obsessions that hinder the coming of God’s reign, there is a discontent.  This discontent can be carried with grace. We, in Christ, can speak truth gracefully and leave space for God to work. The bad discontent however is a rut of always finding things not up to one’s own standards of perfection. The resulting disgruntled state is impervious to grace. It is always unhappy. This state of mind kills life if not nipped in the bud.

Lastly, I believe there is a good depression that all pastors/ministers have to go through to be used by God. This is the deep sadness that one must go through which enables each one of us to give up things we somehow became attached to as central to our own identity, but really these things are not essential to God’s Mission. In ministry, there are things like “I’m a great preacher” or “I will lead a certain kind of change in this neighborhood for Jesus” or “I will show my worth by being a mega church pastor executive” that somehow have been allowed to become pat of my identity. I hold onto to these things. Being freed from these identity markers will allow us to become the instruments anew of what God is doing in Mission.  I fear, most pastors never allow themselves to die to their ministry ego markers (whatever they might be) because this requires a good period of depression. As a result, ministries shrivel and churches die.

Bad depression is when we lose purpose in life and allow ourselves to go into complete despair and disavowal of all belief. We lose connection to the reality that God has called us into His life and His Mission. This is when depression is bad and should not be nurtured. If we end up here, I believe we must go to the place where we can open ourselves anew to the mysteries of God (a spiritual director might be good here too) and see the deep mysterious purposes of God at work in the world in His Mission for the world. Somehow, we must see again our place within God’s extraordinary Mission. I believe this kind of renewal happens to people all the time. Many however never have the wherewithal (the spiritual direction) to resist it by the Spirit so as to get to the place of receptivity.

There’s a good tired and there’s a bad tired, a good (discontent) and a bad discontent, and yeah, I believe there’s a good depression and a bad depression. Every Christian seeking to live in mission has got to discern between these two paths regularly.

The words of Jesus from The Message Matt 11:28-30

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

 

Blessings on the journey. DF

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David Fitch
David Fitch is a bi-vocational pastor at Life on the Vine and the B.R. Lindner Chair of Evangelical Theology at Northern Seminary.