by Sharmon Coleman, Proven Way Executive Director
Ferrets. You know the furry little creatures from the weasel family? I had a neighbor with ferrets, and they were highly intelligent, extremely social creatures with two speeds: wrestling like maniacs and falling sound asleep in less than a minute. I think I have Ferret Syndrome which is my made up name for going a mile a minute and then crashing from exhaustion only to bounce back and repeat the cycle. Does anyone else struggle with Ferret Syndrome?
Currently I’m in the crash and burn phase. My problem is that I burn the candle at both ends, and don’t realize I’m over extended until I’m exhausted and can’t move. Furthermore, I have logged many miles with Jesus, and yet I continue to repeat this cycle. So, add frustration with myself to my state of fatigue.
Why do I find myself in this cycle over and over again? I think the answer boils down to one word: LIMITS. According to Webster’s Dictionary, a limit is a point or level beyond which something does not or may not extend or pass. Only God has no limits. Where do I get the idea that I shouldn’t have limits or that limits are bad? Why am I so comfortable thinking I’m like God and have no limits? Or that I’m the exception to all humanity? Lord, help me to turn from this faulty thinking and embrace Your gift of limits.
So, what are limits we need in order to avoid burnout/Ferret Syndrome?
- Physical limits – God commands us to rest every seventh day. He is our Creator, so He knows what we need. When we don’t take time to rest, we aren’t accepting the limits God has placed on us FOR OUR BENEFIT. The Sabbath isn’t meant to be a boring day. It’s a day of celebration, doing what renews and refreshes body, mind, soul and spirit.
- Relational limits – You can’t be everything to everyone. Spend time each day asking God who He wants you to invest in that day. Resist the urge to people please. Keep in step with His Spirit. He promises to direct your path each moment (Isaiah 30:21). Invest in the relationships He ordains.
- Time limits – Time is not a renewable resource. We must put limits on where and how we invest it. Sometimes that means saying no to the good so we can say yes to God’s best. Having a personal mission statement can be a great help in deciding how to invest your time. Filter each task and opportunity through your God-given purpose. And the most important thing you can do is pray for wisdom, listen and then walk in what He says.
All the limits above can be recognized and followed by simply walking with Jesus 24/7. I love how The Message paraphrases Matthew 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.
As you walk with God, ask Him what your specific limits are, then embrace what God shares with you so that you can learn the unforced rhythms of His grace and say goodbye to Ferret Syndrome!