Most people talk about their jobs relating to how tired they are. We almost wear busyness and stress as a badge of honor. With the growing level of technology, we were supposed to experience more margin and less work but quite the opposite has happened.
What causes work-related exhaustion? I think before you realize what you need to do with work-related exhaustion, you need to determine what type you have.
- Out of Shape – Some people are tired in work because they are honestly out of shape. They just lack the capacity to work hard for whatever reason. Some people are prone to laziness while others have been conditioned not to break a sweat when it comes to productivity. If this is your situation, you need to learn how to work hard by conditioning yourself to contributing more. It honors God to work hard. Don’t be unwilling to labor – the early Christians thought if you didn’t work hard enough, you shouldn’t eat (2 Thess. 3:10)!
- Pushed Too Hard – Some people are worn out because their boss has pushed too hard. Like the coach on the sideline who is blowing his whistle demanding the team to run more while he sits in his chair sipping on Gatorade, many bosses have their team sweating while they are reclining. While all of us could work more diligently and need occasional reminders, some bosses lack the capacity to see when they have unrealistic expectations. Some bosses threaten employees by their words and actions (Eph. 6:9). If you are worried you are going to hit the wall, you need to ask this question: “Is it safe for me to tell my boss that he or she has pushed me too hard?” If you feel that question to be endangering to your situation, you might need to consider prayerfully if your current job is a long-term path for you.
- Can’t Keep Up – Some people are exhausted not because the coach is pushing too hard by exhortation but by example. Instead of the whistle being blown by someone in the chair, now imagine a leader who is running with you and ahead of you. At the pace they run, it is simply difficult for you to keep up. While you can still be exhausted by this, it is a very different situation than the previous because you might be motivated by the leader’s pace or at least encouraged that the leader is exhausted with you. If you are having a difficulty to keep up but want to stay on the team, then work on making progress to condition yourself. Talk with your boss and say, “Your work ethic really inspires me and I want to do better. Can you help teach me some things?” Do work with all your heart (Col. 3:23)!
- Did Too Much – Some people are exhausted because they don’t know how to say “no” or so much else in life is weighing them down. Taking on so much extra responsibilities, they are too worn out to do what they need to do. If they continue so long at that pace, they will experience burnout quickly. The danger of this scenario is that many people in type 1 think they are in type 4. Many stressed out people think they are doing too much but in reality they don’t know how to do too much and that is their problem. The best way to tell is by asking your boss or a co-worker that you trust. For those who are actually doing too much, it is evident because people are commenting on how much they get done. So if people affirm that you are productive and you feel like you are about to hit the wall, be very careful that your desire to please people doesn’t become your downfall (Eph. 6:6).
All 4 of these scenarios can cause exhaustion, but before you know what to do with it, you need to determine why it is there.
Work is a glorious thing. Be wise in how you go about it.
And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you (1 Thess. 4:11).
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.