(I realize that the CNN news article that I feature in this post is dated December, 2009. This may have been when it was reported, but it has been altered since the original publishing date. I say this because actual quotes that I had taken from the original article are no longer in the current article).
Sometime during the year of 2009, in New York, there was a woman working at a restaurant, when she just collapsed. Two EMTs were present, but instead of helping, they told her co-workers to call 911 for help, then left. Why didn’t they help her? The original article said that it was because they were on lunch break. Either way, it turns out that the woman was pregnant, and as a result to their leaving, both she and unborn baby died!
When the Mayor of NY commented on the tragedy, he responded (in the original article) ‘that he was outraged, and couldn’t understand what sort of burnout they were experiencing, but that such is still no excuse.’
This word “burnout” got me thinking. We all hit burnout. Regardless of the reasons, burnout causes us to harden, lose the passions we started with, destroys hope, often leads to depression, causes restlessness and feelings of injustice, you lose your feelings of purpose, you wonder what difference you’re making (you’re working, doing the same thing every day, but not getting a thing from it yourself), and just wears us out spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally.
You continue to work, but you feel like you’re just going through the motions.
As Christians (and Ministers), what we do is not just something that we do, but something that makes us who we are. Often times, as I would pray for a spiritual recharge, Jesus would instead respond by showing me what I needed to do next, such as a message to share. The night before my “Walk to Emmaus” (a sort of spiritual renewal retreat) in March, 2009, I dreamed of the end of the world. During the huge event, I continued asking Jesus about the security of my salvation. But Jesus was busily ushering people into Heaven. Once, when He finally had a chance to stop for a moment, all I could get out was my question before more people arrived, and He needed to get back to work. As I look at this now, I realize that my question was unnecessary, for as His friend, my salvation is secure, regardless of how I’m feeling, and there’s too much work to be done, and lives to be saved, to be stuck in neutral, dwelling on what I am or am not feeling.
Jesus told us in Matthew 28:19-20 that as His people, we’re responsible for telling people about Jesus Christ at all times, everywhere we are/go. The Apostle Peter said to “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Every time my wife and I go on vacation, I’m reminded that I’m still on God’s clock. Just because we’re in a different location, doesn’t mean that I’m not still representing Jesus Christ to everyone there, and if the opportunity arises to share Jesus with somebody, it’s still my duty to share. Why? Because I could be saving lives (or at least planting seeds), even if I might be burned out and feeling like I’m just going through the motions.
The EMTs in the restaurant who refused to respond when the pregnant employee collapsed, obviously didn’t remember their mission and expectations as people called, trained, and licensed to save lives. When they took on the title “EMT”, they took on everything that goes with it…it’s not just what they do, but who they are. Whether they’re on or off the clock, on vacation or suspended, they’re always on call, and required to help when the need arises. Why? Because they, like Christians, could be saving lives. That’s what they do, that’s who they are: “Emergency Medical Technicians” and Paramedics. Just like an off-duty police officer, even if they’re feeling burnt-out, they’re required to carry out the mission, even if just “going through the motions.”