Have you ever experienced burnout? Feeling tired, lacking motivation, and getting angry at anyone who asks you to do a little bit more? Burnout doesn’t happen because our schedules are too busy but because we have lost the inspiration that drove us in the first place. Remembering what we are grateful for will breathe fresh life into our faith and recharge our desire to love God and other people.
Dark thoughts: The danger of being ungrateful
They knew God but did not praise and thank him for being God. Instead, their thoughts were pointless, and their misguided minds were plunged into darkness.
Scriptures teach that as soon as we stop thanking God for what he has done in our lives, dark and pointless thoughts will take over. These thoughts are negative, hopeless, and discouraging, like:
- Nobody notices or appreciates all that I do.
- It’s pointless to try to do all this.
- I can’t do what God is expecting of me; he expects too much.
Dark thoughts make us feel depressed, lonely, guilty and angry. Luckily, the Bible gives us a solution. I was challenged by friends recently to take time to think about where my life would be without God in the picture. That same day, one of the teenagers in our Y-ministry told me about a couple friends of hers at school – one of them has been so depressed she hasn’t come to school for weeks. The other had an abortion at age 14 and hasn’t been the same since.
Suddenly, my to-do list seemed a lot less stressful. There are so many people who need the hope that God can give, and need me to not be so caught up in myself that I forget to pass it along.
Take time to pray about what your life would be like without God, and thank him for the things he has done for you. You’ll find your dark and negative thoughts will suddenly become much smaller, and your purpose and vision will grow much bigger.
Nothing Better than a Clean Slate
Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be—
you get a fresh start,
your slate’s wiped clean.
Count yourself lucky—
God holds nothing against you
and you’re holding nothing back from him.
Psalm 32:2-3 (MSG)
As a Christian, one thing you can always be grateful for is a clean slate. No matter how bad your sins were yesterday, God will forgive you today. Like the scripture says, happiness comes from having a clean slate, not from our achievements or appearance.
Are you still grateful for having your sins forgiven? Unhappiness is not the result of our schedule or our circumstances, but having sin in our lives we haven’t dealt with and confessed to God and our friends (1 John 1:8-10, James 5:16).
Find a couple spiritual friends you can really let down with and be honest with. The more honest you are about your guilt and mistakes, the more grateful you will be to God and the more you will want to help other people have a clean slate too.
The Desire to Give Back
Then turning to the woman, but speaking to Simon, he said, “Do you see this woman? I came to your home; you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive, isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins, and so she is very, very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal, the gratitude is minimal.”
Luke 7:42-44 (MSG)
True gratitude motivates us to give and love and serve – not out of duty but out of desire. Doing good things because we know it’s the right thing to do won’t last very long. We’ll end up burned out and feeling taken advantage of.
The woman in this scripture didn’t kiss Jesus’ feet because she “should.” She wanted to do it; she was grateful. Gratitude is not only feeling appreciation for something but also having the desire to return the kindness.
How eager are you to return God’s kindness to you? You know the answer to this question based on how eager you are to give up your free time to serve God, volunteer at events, mentor a teenager, or help someone who is weak in their faith.
Think about a few things others have done to help you out in your life, like babysitting for you, having you over for dinner, or writing you a card. Decide to do one of those things for someone else this week. You’ll find that gratitude is a much more fulfilling and lasting motivation than “doing the right thing.”