Major General (ret) Robert Dees citesDr. Archibald Hart’s research on burnoutin his book, Resilient Leaders:
Burnout is a defense mechanism characterized by disengagement . . . the emotions become blunted . . . The exhaustion of burnout affects motivation and drive . . . Burnout produces demoralization . . . can best be understood as . . . a sense of helplessness and hopelessness . . . paranoia, depersonalization, and detachment . . . Burnout may never kill you, but your long life may not seem worth living.
In 1969 the Japanese reported their first case of karoshi—death from overwork. More recently about 10,000 Japanese die annually for reasons attributed to karoshi. If that is a frightening statistic for an island of high achievers, one can only wonder how many die for the same reasons in the United States where even longer work hours are kept! King Solomon once wrote, “Therefore, I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me. For everything is futile and a pursuit of the wind (Ecclesiastes 7:22). I wonder how many people die each year hating what they do or full of anxiety because work has not brought them the pleasure and meaning in life they so desperately sought.
Isaiah 40:27-31— Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God.”Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
There is weariness in the kingdom of God that should evoke more than yawns. Many of God’s servants have lost their energy. Mornings of zest have become dreary sunrises. Bitterness saps the strength of the bewildered saints who feel God has abandoned them. Depression steals the first love that made spiritual life so potent. The power of God that once flowed so smoothly has been shut off at the plant of fatigue.
2 Corinthians 6:3-10—We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything. (NIV)