Summary: Pastor Rick teaches what God has to say about burnout - looking at the life of Elijah.

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1 Kings 19:1-16

Rick Warren

We’re going to look at what God has to say about avoiding burnout. We hear a lot today about burnout. Emotional burnout, relational burnout -- but it’s not a new issue. In fact, there are many examples in the Bible, one of them being in 1 Kings 19. It’s about Elijah. Remember the story in 1 Kings 18 where he had this great miracle from God. They had a God contest on Mt. Carmel. God sent fire down and the whole nation turned back to God. They killed all the false prophets. It was a once in a life time miracle. There was a big emotional high there.

Scene two, the next chapter (1 Kings 19) the Queen Jezebel, the wicked queen, gets very mad. So she puts a death threat out on Elijah and sends a messenger to him telling him she was planning on killing him. Just a few days after this enormous miracle where the whole nation turns back to God, Elijah runs for his life across the desert, hides in a cave. He’s in fear saying, "God, please kill me!"

What’s going on? This is a classic example of burnout. After every mountaintop there is a valley. After every high there is a low. With success comes stress.

The good news is that the Bible tells us Elijah was just like us. He was a human being, he wasn’t supernatural. God used him in some miraculous ways but he was just a normal human being. So we can look at his life and we can see the causes or the signs of burnout and the cure for burnout.

You may not need this message today. If you don’t, congratulations. But you may someday. I will guarantee you that there is probably somebody you know that’s going through emotional burnout right now. This is one of those messages you hold on to so when you go through the dark days, you pull out the outline and read what God said to do.


What are the signs of burnout? We see them in Elijah’s life. When you see them in your life you know you’re headed in the wrong direction.

1. We depreciate our worth.

We put ourselves down mentally. There’s a little tape going on in your mind that says over and over, "I’m a nobody. My life doesn’t matter. I’m insignificant. I don’t count. I have no value." It plays over and over in your mind. When you start doing that, you know you’re headed for burnout.

1 Kings 19:4, "Elijah came to a broom tree, sat down under it, and prayed, `Take my life. I’m no better than my ancestors.’" Circle "I’m no better." He’s comparing himself to his ancestors and saying, "I’m no better than those guys!"

That tells us one of the first causes of burnout -- comparing. When you start comparing yourself to somebody else, you’re setting yourself up for emotional burnout. What you tend to do is compare your life with the accomplishments of other people: "I’m not doing enough." You compare your problems and your trials with the relatively easy lifestyle you think somebody else is having. They’re just hiding their problems. You compare your talents and your gifts and think how meager they are compared to the super star quality of the person next door, the other guy or woman in the office.

But the worst thing you do is when you start comparing your expectations with the way life has really turned out. When you start looking at the way life turned out with the way you expected it to be, you’re setting yourself up for burnout. God says don’t do it. Don’t depreciate your worth.

Once you start comparing the second things you start doing is criticizing yourself. You are your own worst critic. Your worst critic lives between your ears. You tell yourself, "I must... I should ... I have to ... I ought to ... I’ve got to ... " Then when it doesn’t happen, you move to phase three, to feeling guilty about all the work you haven’t gotten done. Do you ever have so much to do on your To Do list that there’s no way possible you’re going to get it all done? But then when you don’t get it all done, you feel guilty because you don’t get it all done. You’re setting yourself up for burnout.

2. We underrate our work.

1 Kings 19:19 "I have worked very hard for the Lord God of the heavens but the people of Israel have broken their covenant with You and have torn down Your altars." Elijah was a man of God, a teacher of the truth. Yet he blamed himself for things that weren’t his fault. He was to tell the people what God wanted them to do but they weren’t listening and the nation was falling apart morally because they had some bad leaders. They had brought in all kinds of paganism. He’s teaching and preaching and they weren’t changing and he blames himself.

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Selvan John

commented on Sep 26, 2008

Dear Rick Thanks for the wonderful word simply superb. God bless you.

Richard John Hayton

commented on Aug 11, 2017

Really great sermon, maybe nearly nine years old now but the principles expounded are brilliant and clear. Thank you.

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