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Monday, December 22, 2014

Blessed areThose not Burned Out

There is a true irony that exists in the Christmas season. At least in our country. It exists between the lyrics of O Little Town of Bethlehem and Silver Bells. In the carol, we see the occasion of Jesus's birth marked by the little town’s description, “How still we see thee lie.” In Silver Bells, there are Christmas shoppers rushing home with their presents. 

While we make reference to “the holidays,” many people must work overtime or find added “burdens” of Christmas related activities. One department store opened last Friday at 6 a.m. and will not close until 6 p.m. Christmas Eve. I guess they figure people want to avoid the “stress” of normal shopping hours or are simply latecomers to the party.

So isn’t it odd that we can often associate the word “stress” with Christmastime? It may be one reason Jesus never gave instructions to celebrate His birthday. We, His followers, have done that.

Speaking of stress, I read an article this past week that my daughter in law had passed along via Facebook. It was a Washington Post piece authored by a teacher with the title, “The day I knew for sure I was burned out.” It gave an unexpected but important business lesson for management to help keep employees and create a more satisfying work environment.

The writer, Ellie Herman, worked, and was sussessful for decades, as a writer/producer for several popular television shows such as “Desperate Housewives,” “Chicago Hope” and “Newhart.” Her fiction writing has appeared in several literary journals.

After decades of this work, she became an English teacher at a South Los Angeles charter school. The school is described as “97 percent Latino and where 96 percent of the students lived below the poverty line.” She taught there for six years and then quit. Ellie tells more on her blog, Gatsby in L.A.

Her “tipping point” to quitting came via an outdated and malfunctioning copier. The demands on a teacher working with inner city kids overwhelmed her. Her words, “By the end of each day, I was numb. At night, I’d dream I was suffocating. I could not remember what joy felt like.” And her closing point, “If the United States is serious about attracting and retaining good teachers, the first thing we need to do is give us the conditions we need to get our jobs done right.”

All too often in my life I have encountered people with high demands for performance and deadlines, but under resourced. I have watched and heard stories of employees raising the flag for help, but calls  go unheeded. No wonder people burn out. Deep inside their souls, there rings a familiar tune: No one seems to care.

As we celebrate the birthday of King Jesus this week, two points I would make. First, He is NEVER under resourced. Psalm 24:1 states it clearly, “The earth belongs to God! Everything in all the world is his!” (TLB) Everything.

Second, He DOES care. Here are Jesus's words to the overburdened: “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.” (Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)

Jesus is God’s gift to you at Christmas. And the only one that truly keeps on giving.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.

Mark Elfstrand can be heard weekdays, 4-6 pm on AM 1160 WYLL in Chicago. Check the web for WYLL and the app for AM 1160 to listen live. Or by podcast.

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