I recently had to research a few keywords for a client and discovered something alarming. Globally for Google searches, the term “burnout” increased 4200% in one week.
The breakout terms about burnout, which also increased, included psychological warfare, mental abuse, and mental exhaustion. Each search term percentage increased hundreds of times over.
It doesn’t take an expert to realize that people are tired.
When Ordell and I were dating, he looked me in the eye and, in his ever practical way, and romantically said, “Before I waste my time here, I need you to know I have one goal: to be a college football coach. That’s going to mean I’m going to work a lot of hours for very little pay, and we’re going to move a lot. So, I need to know you’re on board with that; it’s non-negotiable.”
This news wasn’t surprising to me. However, as we discussed what coaching as a partnership could look like, I realized there would be an opportunity for much more than lonely evenings and packing and unpacking boxes.
We’ve framed football as a family ministry, and throughout our marriage, Ordell has always worked hard to create space in our calendar for me to thrive in my calling. This doesn’t mean that living on mission has come naturally. There have been plenty of … growing pains as we’ve figured out our best path forward individually and together.
It’s challenging to evaluate something while you’re in the thick of the chaos. Growth often requires time outs for assessment and realignment.
Some may look at a time out as a failure. As a coach’s wife, I know that there is a lot of value in taking time out. Sometimes the best thing we can do to continue living on mission is to pause to avoid burnout.
On the sidelines of football games, you’ll hear coaches correcting athletes’ technique, their understanding of how to execute the play, and their attitude. Emotions run high on the sidelines, especially when the scoreboard isn’t kind. When players aren’t performing the way a coach expects, the coaches call a time-out or pulls a player to the sidelines to speak directly to him.
The sideline is also where athletes rest and hydrate in preparation for the next series. It’s the place where teammates encourage each other and minor injuries are tended. The sideline is a tremendously important place on game day. But most people only see value in the field.
Living on mission will require time on the sidelines on game day.
Discerning when you need those times and who should be on the sidelines with you takes some time to figure out.(Excerpt from Lessons from the Sidelines)
These days some of us are in a forced time out. Hardly anyone’s day-to-day looks like it did twelve months ago. Rather than pushing against this season, driving toward burnout, what if we chose to take a time out instead?
What if we took time to consider that we’ve been so busy running on the hamster wheel of the athletic calendar doing the things we know make others happy that we’ve missed important details? What if there’s something even better we could do (or not do) that would allow us to live in the fullness of the sweet spot of our passions and calling?
In 1 Corinthians 9:23-27 (Message Version), Paul says:
I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it! You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition.
What if all it takes to figure out how to finish the race to the best of our ability is a time out on the sidelines to catch our breath, connect as a team, make a few adjustments, and put together a new game plan?
It’s okay to do what we need to do to “stay alert and avoid sloppy living.”
You have permission to take a time out. Rest is vital. I also encourage you to take some time to consider if your future includes any adjustments for a stronger finish.