One of the tensions that come up when the subject of burnout is addressed is the difference between being tired and being burned out. What constitutes an unhealthy feeling of overextending ourselves vs. the usual weariness that comes from doing hard work? They both sound the same but at the same time they are very nuanced states. In order to get a clearer picture on the subject I examined the life of Jesus and I saw a man who definitely got tired but never once did he get burned out.
And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. (John 4:4-6 ESV)
From the portrait of Jesus that we see in the gospels and my own experience with burnout (in myself and others) I can think of a few major differences between being tired and being burned out:
1. Tiredness is characterized by an increase in faith
Burnout is characterized by a decrease in faith
2. Tiredness means you can see the reason why you are investing your time, money, and energy
Burnout means you can’t see the reason why you are investing your time, money, and energy
3. Tiredness can be a result of doing God’s will
Burnout is a result of presumption
4. Tiredness is a result of over exerting ourselves
Burnout is the result of continuous state of over exerting ourselves
5. Tiredness is human
Burnout is a consequence of trying to be superhuman
Can you think of any other differences?
Have you ever struggled to recognize whether you were experiencing burnout or the tiredness that comes from honest hard work?