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Words for the Weary
Well Doer: Part 1
Galatians 6:9-10
A Sermon by Dave Redick
Hwy 20 Church of Christ, Sweet Home, OR
This sermon is a featured sermon of a friend of mine.
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It's compassion fatigue. It's well doer's burnout. It happens sometimes when a very dedicated, committed disciple of Jesus suddenly wakes up and realized he's tired - tired of giving, tired of doing, tired of serving. He finds that the joy of service is gone.


Do God's faithful people ever tire of doing good? It's apparently so. I say that because Paul addresses the very issue in Galatians 6:9-10. That is where I would like us to spend our time tonight. The passage says,

"And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. (NAS)
"Let us not lose heart in doing good." When you lose heart, you give up, you give in, you get tired of it all and quit.

One tired comedian once wrote,

"Are You Tired? The population of this country is 220 million; 84 million are over 60 years of age, which leaves 136 million to do the work. People under 20 years of age total 95 million, which leaves 41 million to do the work. There are 22 million who are employed by the government, which leaves 19 million to do the work. Four million are in the armed forces, which leave 15 million to do the work. Deduct 14,800,000 -- the number in state and city offices, leaving 200,000 to do the work. There are 188,000 in hospitals, insane asylums, etc. -- that leaves 12,000 people to do the work. Now it may interest you to know that there are 11,998 people in jail, so that leaves just two people to carry the load and that's you and me, brother, and I'm getting tired of doing everything myself!"

It's compassion fatigue. It's well doer's burnout. It happens sometimes when a very dedicated, committed disciple of Jesus suddenly wakes up and realized he's tired - tired of giving, tired of doing, tired of serving. He finds that the joy of service is gone.

(You might be wondering how I could speak in the morning about the need for more of us to serve and turn around this evening and suggest that it is possible to get tired of doing good. Well, I must be faithful to God's word, and God's word has both issues, therefore my preaching must have both issues.)

"Let us not lose heart in doing good..." Apparently the Apostle realized that it is possible for the "heart" to go out of our service and perhaps cause us to give up and quit.

Several years ago a brother/preacher to whom I have looked up for many years called me and wanted to talk. We made arrangements to meet in another town and he poured out his frustration and weariness to me. He was out of gas. He had lost the desire to keep on. He used the very words of this passage in the KJV: "I'm weary of well-doing..."

Since this message has two parts, I'll ask and do my best to answer only one question in this first part:

I. Who Gets Weary of Well Doing?

Obviously from Paul's words,

A. Any Workers in the Lord's kingdom can get weary.

This passage wasn't addressed to a select few. It went out to multiple churches in Galatia.

I assume then, that preachers (like my friend), Sunday school teachers, missionaries, those with gifts of serving, and others are susceptible to this.

Perhaps the pop-psychology term "burnout" is relevant here.

It happens to all kinds of people concerned for the work of the Lord.

B. Parents sometimes get weary.

I read about a woman who telephoned a friend and asked how she was feeling, "Terrible," came the reply over the wire, "my head's splitting and my back and legs are killing me. The house is a mess, and the kids are simply driving me crazy." Very sympathetically the caller said, "Listen, go and lie down, I'll come over right away and cook lunch for you, clean up the house, and take care of the children while you get some rest. By the way, how is Sam?"

"Sam?" the complaining housewife gasped. "I have no husband named Sam."

"My heavens," exclaimed the first woman, "I must have dialed the wrong number."

There was a long pause. "Are you still coming over?" the harried mother asked hopefully.

Those of us with our children raised are prone to say to those with little ones, "Enjoy it, 'cause it'll be over sooner than you think." We may have forgotten that it doesn't look that way when you still have two in diapers or a house full of teenagers!

C. Those who have served a long time get tired.

Length of service doesn't always make us more faithful. Just as we are seeing more and more husbands/wives desert their mates in their 50's and 60's, it happens in the faith, too.

D. Those who have seen few results can feel the weariness of well-doing.

We are a result oriented society. When you fish, you produce the stringer of trophies. When you hunt, you save the antlers. When you golf, you have your scorecards. Service to the Lord isn't always that easy to measure as far as results.

A chaplain who was ministering to a seriously wounded soldier was requested by the dying man to write a letter to his former Sunday school teacher. "Tell her I died a Christian because of what she taught me in that class in church. The memory of her earnest pleas and the warmth of her love as she asked us to accept Jesus has stayed with me. Tell her I'll meet her in Heaven." The message was sent, and some time later the chaplain received this reply: "May God forgive me. Just last month I resigned my position and abandoned my Sunday school pupils because I felt my work had been fruitless. How I regret my impatience and lack of faith! I shall ask my pastor to let me go back to teaching. I have learned that when one sows for God, the reaping is both sure and blessed!"

It can happen when we grow weary, thinking that non-visible results mean no results.

E. Those effected by the lethargy of others are candidates for this problem of weariness.

One who did quit said,

"I found lots of weaknesses in the American church, and they got to me.

Interest in missions? Only casual. 
A spirit of sacrifice? Not much. 
A willingness to serve? Only if convenient. 
A burden for a lost world? Not really. 
"How could I do anything but become cynical. Unfortunately, I did."

Cynicism is a danger to those who work next to people who don't see the real issues and/or don't care. Cynicism is an outlook that says, "Things are never going to work out. It will always be like this," etc.

F. Those experiencing temporary failures can feel weary.

I remember Elijah under the Juniper tree. "Lord, just kill me!" Even though the great victory on Mt. Carmel was a decisive blow to the idolatry in Elijah's day, when Jezebel didn't cow to it, Elijah melted in discouragement.

The failure was only temporary, but for awhile you Elijah couldn't be persuaded of it.

G. Those who are rejected by others sometimes want to quit. Rejection hurts! When you plow your life and time into someone and they turn, not only against what you teach, but against you personally, the temptation is to say, "Never again will I put that much into another human being!"

I remember Samuel the prophet getting this way. The Israelites rejected his clear, right teaching and clamored for a king. He got down-in-the-mouth (and that's a bad place for a prophet to be!) God finally told him that they hadn't rejected him (Samuel) but they had rejected Him (God.) It's hard not to get the two tied up together, though.

H. Those who are lonely can begin to become weary of well-doing.

When God came to Elijah under the Juniper, he asked him what was wrong. He said, "I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, torn down Thine altars and killed Thy prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away."

Doing God's work can have some lonely times.

In a recent NCAA cross-country championship held in Riverside, California, 123 of the 128 runners missed a turn. One competitor, Mike Delcavo, stayed on the 10,000 meter course and began waving for fellow runners to follow him. Delcavo was able to convince only four other runners to go with him. Asked what his competitors thought of his mid-race decision not to follow the crowd, Delcavo responded, "They thought it was funny that I went the right way."

Sometimes, in order to follow Christ, you must do it alone. It hurts to think that you're going the right way, yet everyone else thinks your crazy!

I. The criticized - after awhile, can become weary.

Personal criticism always hurts. Sometimes it is good for us, but sometimes it is unmerited and wrong.

In 1923, as Russian-born engineer Vladimir Zworykin worked on his latest invention, he was told to "spend your time on something more useful." But Zworykin didn't -- and in 1929 he obtained the first patent for his invention, color television.

Among his many achievements, Zworykin also helped perfect the electron microscope and other devices that greatly advanced medical and biological research.

He retired as director of electronic research for RCA in 1954, and in 1966 was awarded the National Medal of Science. Yet criticism marked almost all the milestones of his path.

Someone has said, "Where there's light, there's bugs." I believe that.

J. Those who get caught up in comparisons set themselves up for weariness in well doing.

I see something happening today to small church ministers. Many of them are quitting. Why? It's because the big church is being held up as the standard of success. Little churches are viewed as hokey and anemic. They're on the sick list. They're useless if you listen to some. They'd be better off put out of their misery.

For a man who sacrifices the way many small church ministers must sacrifice in order to do the work (many are "bi-vocational) this becomes the straw that breaks the camel's back. A couple of generations ago, any work for Christ was considered valid. The man who had the courage to go out on his own and raise up a congregation from nothing had the admiration of the entire church. Today that isn't the case if a man engages in or listens to the comparisons that go on.

"Why should I put myself out if it doesn't matter anyway," he asks. Very often, so does his wife.

Preachers used to be respected by the society around. Their work was viewed as essential for the good of the community. Today most are held up as objects of scorn and ridicule, or made to look like idiots by the media. (When was the last time you heard a media story about the selfless deeds of some preacher? When was the last time you heard of some scandal involving a preacher?) Our young people aren't going into vocational ministry today like they have in the past. These are some of the reasons why.

K. Those who are bored feel the weariness as well.

What I refer to here is the-same-old-same-old, day after day, week after week, year after year.

Gerald Mann, writing in When Bad Times Are Over for Good, breaks hurting people into four categories. He calls them the four B's:

the bruised, 
the battered, 
the broken 
and the bored. 
Steps need to be taken to prevent boredom, especially as the shadows lengthen on the workday of life. More on this later.

L. Those experiencing poor health.

As we grow older we must adjust to ailments that limit our capacity. In the process, we must also adjust our expectations of ourselves.

My friend I mentioned in the beginning of this message who came to me and admitted he was "weary of well doing" had a heart attack a few months later. His health was suffering, but he did not realize it in his conversation with me. It is fairly easy to surmise that was his problem.

That's all we have time for tonight. We'll pick this up again next week, Lord willing. I don't like to paint a dreary picture of a problem without also offering a solution, so let me give you a preview of next time.

First, we'll look at some Biblical examples of weariness in well doing. Then we'll look to some solutions, including instruction to (1) Rest, (2) Reconsecrate, (3) Regroup, (4) and Renew Your Spirit. I hope you'll be with us.


To wrap this up, let me tell you a humorous, but true story related by Patsy Clairmont, from the tape, God Uses Cracked Pots. This is a true story about her son, Jason:

"When he was 7, I sent him off to school one day and a little while later there was a knock at the door and I opened the door and it was Jason. I said 'Jason, what are you doing here?'

"He said, 'I've quit school!'

"I said, 'Why have you quit school?'

"He said, 'Well, it was too long, it was too hard, and it was too boring.'

"I said, 'Jason, you have just described life, get back on the bus!'

Until we meet again next time, "Don't grow weary of doing well..."

Click here for Part 2 of this message