How to Cure Burn-out

Not a week goes by that I don’t hear this, or some form of this, said by a friend in distress: “Dave, I’m just burned out. I dread what I’m doing.  I have a lot of anger and I don’t know where it comes from.  I’m tired, I have no energy, and it’s hard just getting out of bed every day.”

If that describes you, or someone you’re trying to do life with, more than likely, you’re dealing with a person who’s burnt.

The number one culprit behind the feeling of burn-out is the loss of hope. Without hope in your job, in your marriage, in your relationship with God or other people, energy is simply drained out of your life.  But where there is hope, optimism, vitality, and anticipation for better days, seem to arise almost magically and effortlessly.

I finished the current series, “Messy Like Me,” yesterday by talking about the sixth type person you meet on the way to heaven: those who have skill, talent, training, ability, have a ton to offer their career, their families, and their churches, but they are burned out. We talked about the process of losing hope.  It starts with comparison and envy, and ends with anger.  We also talked about how you can have hope in increasing amounts.  Listen to the talk and ask yourself this question, “Am I burned out because I’ve engaged in comparison, I’ve become bitter over what I don’t have, and envious of those who seem to be doing better than me though they are not as smart as me or trying nearly as hard as me?”

Sit down with your team and go through the process of having hope and ask yourself that question.  Do I live every day with the mindset of worship and gratitude and thankfulness to God for my life, and the privilege to do what I do?  Do I stand in awe of God’s promises and His faithfulness to allow me to join Him where He is working?  These are vital questions and they need to be addressed before you can turn things around.

Pettiness Doesn’t Become You

I read an article just the other day by a well-known Christian artist who I highly respect.  I have benefited from his work, and have really been inspired by his willingness to be a renegade for God. But – and isn’t there always a “but” – this blog post I read was of him diminishing the ministry of another group that he had a bone to pick with.

And I thought, this pettiness doesn’t become you.  When we stop to publicly attack our critics or our competition, or almost anyone else for that matter, we’re the one who ends up looking small. Taking the high road isn’t just a good thing; it’s a God thing.  It’s how Jesus taught us to respond in the marketplace of ideas.  Actually, if you take the teachings of Jesus seriously (and we Christians do) we don’t have the right to attack each other publicly.  There’s a process for confrontation privately that leads to redemption and reconciliation.

When I read the pettiness of the people I admire, I don’t get mad; I just become afraid that I too could stumble into this pattern. Yes, we all have enough people who have come against us, opposed us, or (worse than both of those) ignored us, that we’d love to take a slice out of in public.  I do.  But I realize, each and every time, the commitments I have in the art that I create: is it helpful, is it hopeful, does it heal, and – oh yeah – is it true?

If You Can’t Afford It, You Don’t Deserve It

This week we talked about one of the most difficult people to help; and that’s the bored.  It’s been my firm conviction boredom has caused more destruction in the lives of good people than most of the vices we can mention, period.

We hear things like, “You deserve a break today.”  “You deserve a new car.” “You deserve a new house.”  “You deserve a trip.” And as a result, college debt, car debt, and other forms of consumer debt are holding untold hundreds of thousands of people in bondage all because when they were bored, with nothing better to do, they decided to reward themselves with something that would give them a temporary emotional high.

So how do you help the bored? What if you are just really bored.  You’ve been there and done that.  You understand Solomon when he said that everything is meaningless as chasing after the wind. Have you owned up to the fact that things can enhance your life but they can’t bring meaning to your life? It takes people.  And when you’re engaged in the lives of people, your life takes on a whole other color and texture.  And your motivation can go off the charts.

So in this week’s talk we talked about the road to bondage: how we go from freedom to courage, to success, abundance, consumption, assumption, and back to entitlement. We also talked about how to break free from the most devastating virus known to man: and it’s hardening of the attitude.

Control, Certainty, Clarity, and None of the Above

This past weekend at The Gathering was an important moment. It was one of those moments, as a speaker, where you absolutely know that you’ve heard from God, and have something really important to say.

I know, I know.  A lot of people think that, few people will say that, and anyone who dares, we always dismiss as being self-centered or self-righteous.  But this time, listen.  There are three things that God has told me to tell you, you can’t have.  I know.  I can’t have them either: control, certainty, and clarity.

I think that’s good news.  And that’s a bold statement, but it’s true. God is never going to give you control.  Yes, you do have control of your choices, but you don’t have control over what’s going to happen to you each and every day.  Some days in your life, maybe many days in your life you’re going to wake up into a new normal not of your own making.  Maybe it’s cancer, unemployment, divorce, even death.  These will be moments when you realize that God will never give you the one thing you want more than anything else in the world: control.  You’re never going to have true certainty.  You’re not certain of what’s going to happen today, but God is.  You’re never going to have clarity.  If I marry this person, can I clearly see the end of our marriage from the beginning? No.

Here’s what you can have.  You can have the comfort that comes from the growing confidence in the content of God’s promises.  Those promises are found in the Scriptures.  So this weekend as we talked about the bothered, the worried, and the anxious, we talked about the difference between a martyr, an exhausted fixer, and a resentful victim.  We talked about the comfort that comes from a growing confidence in God’s promises.  The truth is, you cannot control what happens to you.  You alone, though, control how you respond.  Will you worry and fret? Or will you find comfort in the content of God’s promises and grow a confident faith?  As the Swedish proverb says, “Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow.”

Betrayed, Bitter, or Better

Wow.  What a response to my talk today in our series, “Messy Like Me!”  I should have known that people would really resonate with the topic of betrayal.  Because, let’s face it.  All of us have had the bitter pill shoved down our throat.

One of my close buddies said to me on the way out today, “Dave, I’ve been listening to you for 12 years.  And this is hands-down, the best!”  Well, I appreciate my brother’s affirmation.  I’ll take all I can get.  I’m just as insecure as the next guy.  But I also know that the content has something to do with it.  Betrayal is something we experience and, let’s face it, almost none of us navigate very well. 

So today we talked about three different kinds of betrayal that you suffer.  We talked about the betrayal of friendship, covenants, and confidences. We talked about the power of betrayal in our lives if we deal with it negatively.  It can truly devastate your life.  But maybe the most important thing I said today was this: none of us have the power to choose or control what happens to us.  Let that soak in.  It’s not just a throw-away statement.  You literally have no control over the things that happen to you.

If life weren’t for the broken, messy people, you’d have a little more control, but even then you’re not in control of the circumstances.  But here’s the most important thing: you’re always in control of your responses.  I wrote a whole book about it called, “The Power to Prevail.”  It is the power to prevail: to choose, in the quitting moments, to make the right choice.  We talked about what some of those choices are.

But one of the most important takeaways today is the fact that each one of us are called to relate to the betrayed.  Not only are we betrayed, and sometimes, let’s face it the betrayer, we need to reach out.  And we need to know the three things that the betrayed need: things like protection, perspective, and reconnection to purpose.

Why not comment here on my web site? Let me know how this talk really resonates with you.  You know that the media for this is stored on web site.  But it also can be delivered to you automatically on iTunes.

Family: What’s in it for me?

Just a few weeks ago, Paula and I celebrated 40 years of life together.  As a part of the celebration, our daughters and sons in-law got together and took us out for a nice meal.  After that, we went back to one of their homes and they prepared a great video, including dozens of people who love us and who make such a difference in our lives.

At the end of the video they presented us with the photo you see here on my blog.  This is a picture of our three daughters, Erin along with her husband Steve, Lindsey along with her husband Aaron, and Paige along with her fiance Dustin. You’ll notice they are holding out their hands.  In their hand is a heart and within that heart is a number. Those numbers represent the year of our 40-year marriage that they entered our lives.  Needless to say, I was overwhelmed with gratitude, generosity, kindness, and thoughtfulness of my children.

Since that night, I can’t help but think about all the decisions that Paula and I have made during the last 40 years; not the least of which was to have children, to take the risk in the face of questions like: how can we afford it, what will we do about college, what will we do if they hate us, what if something bad happens? Those and ten thousand other questions are really our way of asking, “What’s in it for me?”

So here is my takeaway. Instead of looking at your family as an inconvenience, cost, a bother, people who are either holding you back or keeping you at work late at night to afford the things they want, look at them as an investment.  I’m not talking about a return of dollars, but the return of love; the possibility of a legacy of amazing people who will make the world a better place, who will live their lives to honor God and love people.  Never doubt that what your family costs you is a fraction of what they give back.

If you doubt that or if you say, “That hasn’t been true in my life,” take a look in the mirror.  You get back what you give out.  Pour into your wife,  your husband, your children, to their lives, to their children generously, lavishly.  The Bible is true.  Give and it will be given unto you.

What Do You Do After Dumb?

It’s one thing to suffer at the hands of those who are careless and reckless.  It’s another thing to bear self-inflicted wounds.  What do you do when you’re surrounded with people who are suffering or going through difficult times as a result of their own behaviors?  How do you extend grace to them?  Where does the gospel make sense when you are extending it to people who are abusing it?

There are so many things we don’t talk about in church; especially about the things that have to do with our own misbehavior.  How does God deal with us when we are not just dumb, but downright defiant? What do the Scriptures teach us?  Is there hope for people like us who know better, but don’t do better?

Yesterday we talked about God’s love and the difference between His faithful love and cheap grace.  The fact that God does treat people differently, he doesn’t love us all the same; there is a difference between His covenant love and His offered love.   Find out the difference and make application in your life, your family and the life of your church.  Use it to stimulate conversation.  Let me know if you think I am off base, or if you think I am right on target.

RG2G 056 21 Ways We Are Saving the American Church

I believe in the church.  Yes, I know. It’s messed up, abusive, and sometimes outrageous the way “church people” behave. But I’m not talking about the institution, the organization, or the denominational artifact.  I’m talking about the dynamic, vital, spiritual community that Jesus had in mind when He said that His church would prevail.

When I entered into the ministry many years ago, it was an ominous time.  The church was declining, people were leaving church en mass, and there wasn’t much on the horizon to give us hope that things would change.  But I have to say that I am more encouraged than I’ve ever been.  I see really good signs that things are being done to not only save the American church and her influence on society, but to turn things around and begin to grow and make a larger impact.

On today’s show, we talk about the 21 movements we see going on in the American church, why they’re important, how you can recognize them, and more importantly how you can find a church to be a part of that embodies these qualities.

If you agree, and you know examples of these kinds of churches, send me an email or leave a comment here on my blog.

Look at All the Broken People

We started a brand new series this week entitled, “Messy Like Me (the 6 people you meet on the way to heaven).”

We started with the first person we meet.  As a matter of fact, it may be you.  And the truth is, it is all of us at one time or another: the broken. We talked about the three kinds of brokenness, and how we get there for each one.

We also talked about what we tend to do when we’re confronted with broken people.  The truth is, the American church has a reputation for shunning broken people; or at least ignoring them and acting as though it’s not true.  As I’ve often said, the greatest sin we commit each Sunday morning in the church in America is underestimating the pain hiding behind the smiles of the people we see and sit beside.

We talked about the difference between condemning with judgment and confronting with love and compassion.  Do you know the difference?  What does it look like in your life, in your church, in your family, in your place of business?

We also talked about what God does when the broken turn to Him in contrition and confession.  We talked about the difference between mercy and grace, what God’s love does, and the simple and single fact put there for those who come to God and bring their brokenness.  They learn this truth; that behind all things that break us is the hand of the loving Father to shape us.

I closed the service yesterday with this prayer, and I hope it will be yours as well.

“I will bring my brokenness to God in confession and contrition, trusting that by His grace He will forge in me the character and qualities that will allow me to be the confident and compassionate person He can bless with abundance and responsibility.”


RG2G 055 Ten Good Reasons You Need a Great Church

Something I hear constantly when I’m around people are war stories about how they’ve been burnt by the church.  If you are not careful, you’ll end up thinking that just because a lot of churches are messed up, all churches are messed up.

I know good people who have opted out of attending church or being a part of a church for a period of time just to be able to get their sense of self back together.  And I respect that.  But I, for one, am committed to the church as taught in the Scriptures; that it is a dynamic movement of God’s redeeming grace.  It is a collection of messy people who have found not only their joy, but their peace and their wholeness in a loving relationship with Jesus Christ.

So today I talk about the 10 good reasons why you need a great church.  Remember that just because there are a lot of broken churches doesn’t mean the idea of church is a bad one.  We don’t stop eating just because there are some bad restaurants.  We don’t stop attending ballgames just because the teams don’t play well.  I urge you to listen.  Talk these ten ideas over with your family, co-workers, and small groups.

Out there somewhere is a dynamic, growing, vital, vibrant gathering of people seeking to know God, love God, and live the life for which they were created.  You can be a  part of that.  You can be a  part of something big, something that makes a difference.  Or you can just be mad, sad, cynical, and stay home.  Your choice.

40 Years in Reflecting

Paula and I celebrated our 40th Wedding Anniversary this past weekend.  It’s been a great time of reflecting on the decisions that we’ve made in the past and how they’ve borne fruit to create our present.

Yesterday at The Gathering I shared with our whole Gathering family the three biggest regrets I have looking back over the last forty years.  I know they’re forgiven.  I’ve been given grace.  But maybe articulating them will help you avoid some of the pitfalls I didn’t.

But mostly, I talked about the five things that I definitely don’t regret doing.  How many of us made a decision forty years ago that today we’re thrilled we made?  For me, this is one of them.  As you listen to this talk, think about the things you are doing today to make your family, your marriage stronger, more fruitful, more joyful so that when you reflect on your 20th, 30th, 40th, 50th, or beyond, you’ll be able to smile and rejoice in the goodness of God and the assurance that if we do life God’s way, everyone wins.

Only You Can Fly Your Flag

Yesterday we concluded the series “Moo Out Loud: How to Stand up and be Heard Above the Herd.”  We talked about the five practices of those who understand how important it is to develop their own brand.

With the changes in the way we do life, knowing who you are, why you’re here, and what you want is more important than ever before.  Because if you don’t, someone else will define it for you and live your life for you.  Having a life of your very own is something for which you’re going to have to fight.  So just floating through life and hoping someone will give you a job that will guarantee the good life is no longer an option.  I think we all know that by now.

So today we finished by highlighting practice number 5, flying your own flag.  This simply means that you are the person responsible for your reputation for how people see you.  The truth of the matter is, that we’ve gotten so used to fixating on our flaws that we’ve forgotten to focus on our strengths and abilities God has given us, and on why we’re here.

So yesterday, we talked about why people still believe the lie that they’re not creative.  There are four reasons.  Go through each one and ask yourself if you’ve ever believed these.  We talked about what flying your flag means, what it communicates.  And then lastly we asked the four flag questions.  Look at your own reputation, how you carry yourself, how you live, how you occupy your space, and if the questions of force, love, agreement, and good are all clearly answered in the way you do life.

RG2G 054 Why Nobody Wants to Join Your Church

There seems to be a lot of controversy these days about church membership.  In fact, there is a lot of debate going on about whether or not we even need churches with all of the online resources available.  So in response to a pastor who asks the question, “Why does no one seem to want to join the church?”  aren’t people committed anymore, or is everyone looking just to be a church shopper or hopper?”

The idea of church membership as it relates to joining an institution is no longer attractive, if it ever was.  The idea of membership was that you joined the institution called church and you were owned by that church for the rest of your life.  I am not sure that was ever the idea, but it’s the idea that gets communicated.

Membership classes, membership covenants all seem to give the impression that joining a church is all about obligations with few benefits.

I think the paradigm shift is better understood as join the movement rather than join the institution, the organization, or the denomination.

Christianity is a movement.  Understand that.  If you think it’s an institution or a religious force, you’ve gotten it backward. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t religious institutions that are very powerful and very forceful.  Denominations have served their place in the past.  But unlike my parent’s generation, people are no longer loyal to the institution.  They want to be a part of things that matter, that help, that move forward, that benefit not only them, but those who need help.

So as you listen to today’s podcast, think about the four aspects of belonging to a movementany movement. I’ve applied this to The Gathering Nashville because it’s a spiritual community that I am a part of.  But ask yourself, “If all four of these qualities aren’t present, are you really a part of anything that really matters?”  What are the four things that are required to have a sense of belonging? Attending, serving, giving, and supporting.  These are the four dynamics that allow movements to be vital, healthy, and resourced in order to do the mission that they’ve been given by God.


























Finally Finding Your Own Voice

It’s been amazing, the feedback I’ve gotten over the new series “Moo Out Loud.”  My hunch was right.  Everyone wants to be heard, wants to make a difference, wants to believe that they can add something to the redemptive drama of life that God is writing.

So what we’ve done in this series is talk about the five practices of building your own personal brand.  Free your mind, take your stand, fix your focus, and this week we talked about finding your own voice.

Have you ever noticed that no two voices are alike?  We now know that our voice has a voice print much like our finger print.  Yet how many of us hate the sound of our own voice? This is because voice diminishes where there is fear, shame, and innuendo.  Do you have any voices in your head telling you you’re not worthy, you’re not smart enough, trained enough, qualified enough?

We talked about the six conditions under which your voice emerges.  As you listen to this message, ask yourself this question: “Of these six, which have been most meaningful in my life as I’ve developed my own voice, as I’ve found a way to give a voice to the vision of the mission God has given me on this planet?”  And if you respond by saying, “I really don’t have a mission,” then go back and listen to the other talks and find the help you need to get serious about your one and only life.

Do You Fixate or Focus?

I started yesterday’s talk by confessing an incident that happened in the Target parking lot on Saturday afternoon.  I had briefly stopped to let my wife out of the truck to get into her vehicle, and the person behind me kept honking for me to move.  So obnoxious did they become, that I thought maybe they were sick.  So I got out, being the nice guy that I am, and asked them if they were ok, and if I could help.

That incident reminded me that we live in a culture where people are in a hurry to get to someplace.  They’re not really sure where it is,  and what they’re going to do when they get there.  We are a world fixated on speed, fixated on noise and clutter, fixated on more and more and more.  And yet the one thing we need more than anything else is the ability to focus.

In our series, “Moo Out Loud,” there are five practices for developing your own personal brand, for building a platform from which you can be heard.  And the third practice is to fix your focus, which means you become an expert in some field that you focus on, that you drill down into, that becomes your one thing that you know better than anyone else.

So as you listen to the talk, look for the difference between broken focus, and fixed focus.  Ask yourself this question: Is my focus broken?  Are we really fixating on the petty things around us, responding to noises and to the urgent things, or are we really focusing on the things that truly matter?