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Avoiding Burn-Out. In Technology and Missions. Stress & The Brain. The brain is like a computer. Like a computer it can clog up and “hang” when its ability to process instructions becomes overloaded. Overload comes when what we are trying to do is: Too much Too complex Or too urgent

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avoiding burn out

Avoiding Burn-Out

In Technology and Missions

stress the brain
Stress & The Brain
  • The brain is like a computer.
  • Like a computer it can clog up and “hang” when its ability to process instructions becomes overloaded.
  • Overload comes when what we are trying to do is:
  • Too much
  • Too complex
  • Or too urgent
  • The decision about what we shall process and attend to is mainly made by the reticular formation.
selective attention
Selective Attention
  • Say you are driving along listening to music.
  • Then suddenly a child on a bicycle swerves in front of you.
  • Your mind moves attention from the music to the impending accident.
  • This switch in attention and processing is made very swiftly by the reticular formation.
  • It decides that the bicycle is more urgent and more important.
  • If three bicycles , a tractor and a deep ditch suddenly appear you cannot cope with them all at once.
  • Your mind is overloaded and may either freeze up, or panic and make a rash choice.
  • We can only cope with “so much” before we run out of processing space and feel “clogged up” and anxious.
  • Taking on too much or taking on things that are too complex places us under stress.
stress breakdown stage 1
Stress Breakdown – Stage 1
  • Firstly our system fires warning bells about the overload we are experiencing and we feel stressed and anxious and uptight and tense.
  • These uncomfortable feelings are trying to tell us that we are doing too much and it would be a good idea if we slowed down.
  • They are saying “You are driving yourself too fast, back off.”
  • Many people ignore these warning signals, they like “driving fast”, living on adrenalin and they have an image of wanting to do more than others. So they suppress the anxiety by an act of will and keep going.
stress breakdown stage 2
Stress Breakdown – Stage 2
  • In stage two the person loses control of emotions and finds themselves getting angry or upset very easily. They can cry one minute and laugh the next. These sudden emotional changes are termed “emotional lability”.
  • The person in stage two stress breakdown also lose their ability to adjust to change and to motivate themselves to get started though once they have started they can work as hard as anyone else.
  • The system is beginning to crumble at this point and the person becomes subject to psychosomatic disorders as the body tries to slow the person down. These include migraines, headaches, asthma, dermatitis and hay fever.
  • The immune system suffers and resistance bacteria and viruses already present in the person’s body may be able to cause disease. These include common infections such as colds and ‘flu, herpes virus infections, mouth ulcers, lobar pneumonia, boils and pimples, tonsillitis and urinary tract infections.
stress breakdown stage 3
Stress Breakdown – Stage 3
  • 1. Avoidance of sensory stimulation

2. Development of intolerance, and

3. Apparent change in personality.

  • The brain’s circuit breakers have cut in. Everything is being rapidly simplified to reduce the number of issues the person has to deal with.
  • In order to avoid sensory stimulation the person may retreat to the countryside, separate from their partner, stop having sex, avoid loud music and stop going to shopping centres. Sounds will seem too loud, ice too cold, lights too bright. They will switch off the radio when others turn it on. They will go outside and walk around and just “space out”.
  • Development of intolerance is a mechanism for making life easy to classify, so the reticular formation can deal with the backlog. If the shades of grey and complex questions can be eliminated life becomes simple and things can be processed again.
  • If everything can be reduced to the binary states the brain is most comfortable processing, then it can whiz through the decisions. As the decisions are made the clogged up feeling goes and some of the stress can be removed.
  • In third stage stress breakdown people become totally intolerant of small things “If you leave your shaving hairs in the sink I will leave you”. Just a small thing, that was previously tolerated or laughed at, becomes a major drama. Things previously tolerated become unable to be tolerated in third stage stress breakdown.
change in personality
Change In Personality
  • Lastly the person in third stage stress breakdown may have an apparent change in personality and change their values. They may be unable to resist cult recruiters, they are easily brainwashed, they have sudden changes in beliefs and ideas and attitudes that required some will or effort to maintain are likely to be abandoned.
  • Some talk of a strange feeling of peace and purity that comes with this process as everything gets radically simplified.
  • There is also a loss of the “law of strength”. Normally a slight tap on the knee elicits a slight movement and a large tap on the knee a large movement. The law that a small stimulus generally elicits a small response and a large stimulus a large response is known as “the law of strength” and is a sign of a normal functioning of the nervous system.
  • In third stage stress breakdown the person ignores the electricity bill and major responsibilities while becoming preoccupied with trivia. When the electricity is cut off nobody in the house can understand why the bill was not paid. All the aspects of the personality change can be attributed to the person avoiding complexity in their life.
getting rid of stress
Getting Rid Of Stress
  • 1. Am I trying to do too much?
  • 2. Is what I am doing too complicated?
  • 3. Is what I am doing too urgent? Am I trying to do too many things in too short a space of time?
  • 4. I what I am doing “too important”. Am I telling myself that virtually everything is important?
inner language self talk
Inner Language & Self-Talk
  • Words such as “should”, ‘must” ought” , “have to”, got to” create the feeling that the task is compulsory, urgent or important.
  • If you have “got to” do everything and “have to” do it “right now” – you soon feel overloaded.
  • You are telling your brain that EVERYTHING is important so it cannot prioritize inputs properly.
  • Eliminate “should”, “must” and “have to” or use them very sparingly.
  • Speak to yourself in calm, controlled, positive , gentle terms.
  • List tasks in event order, not time order.
  • Time deadlines create inner pressure, event order is more natural and relaxing.
  • “I will do X after lunch” is more relaxing than “I must do X before 2 o’clock”
driving forces control ambition
Driving Forces – Control & Ambition
  • Some people become stressed out and ill pursuing unrealistic inner drives and ambitions.
  • Others strive to control everyone & everything. This means they must attend to many things simultaneously - which is very stressful.
  • Some have a strong urge to please others that makes them take on too much work.
  • Trying to reach an imaginary “top level” quickly can create a stressful urgency in every action.
  • Other people imagine they are responsible for a large number of people or even “the whole world’.
a quiet life
A Quiet Life…
  • (1 Thessalonians 4:11 NKJV) that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you,
  • (1 Timothy 2:2 NKJV) (pray ) for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
  • (1 Peter 3:4 NKJV) rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.
key internal factors
Key Internal Factors
  • Poor diet, health and fitness
  • Incorrect medication levels
  • Major life changes
  • Guilt /legalism / compulsive overwork
  • Fear / security concerns / financial problems
  • Damaged relationships
spiritual factors
Spiritual Factors
  • An inadequate devotional life
  • Lack of deep fellowship with like-minded loving believers
  • Spiritual defensiveness / argumentativeness / particularity of doctrine or practice
  • Over-reliance on approval from spiritual leaders and mentors
simple steps
Simple Steps
  • Pray, take Sabbaths, rest in God
  • Eat healthy foods, walk, exercise
  • See a doctor for a checkup
  • Build positive nurturing friendships
  • Stop being a “helpful martyr”
  • Say “No” as often as you can…
reducing complexity
Reducing Complexity
  • Focus on solutions instead of upon problems
  • Do not over-analyze things
  • Stick to a few main projects without being distracted
  • Keep lots of lists, write things down, don’t try and keep “stuff” in your head - where your reticular formation has to track them.
  • Know your limits and graciously inform others about them
4 categories
4 Categories
  • Important and Urgent – Do
  • Important But Not Urgent – Diary
  • Urgent But Not Important – Delegate
  • Not Important, Not Urgent – Ditch
how to say no
How To Say “No”
  • “No” is the word that adults use to set proper boundaries between themselves and others, between God and the Devil, between holiness and sin, between God’s Kingdom and world, between the Spirit and the flesh, and between peace and hurry.
  • The need is NOT the call. You do not have to do favors for everyone who asks you. You are not Jesus or Paul or a mega-apostle. You do not have the job of saving the world or of being a sacrifice for sin. You do not have infinite resources. You are just you.
  • So just say “No!”
how to say no 2
How To Say “No” - 2
  • You do not “become a good person” by pleasing others or by getting their approval esp. authority figures. You can say “No”, even to a heart-wrenching need, and still be a good person.
  • You do not “become good” by rising in church, missions or technology circles.
  • You are justified by faith alone, not by any works that you do
  • Manipulative people do not deserve your help
  • You can say “no” without having to give them any reason at all
how to say no 3
How To Say “No” - 3
  • Have your goals, objectives, tasks, schedule up on a wall planner so everyone can see them. This is a way of politely letting people know that “Jim actually has some real work to do..”
  • Carry a large diary to planning meetings and take profuse notes. Ask reasonable task-focused questions such as “How long will this take?” and “Will your department allocate financial resources to this task..” Sound professional, firm and focused.
  • Show rational consequences without using emotional terms e.g. say “If you ask for X then Y will have to be dropped for lack of time / resources” Don’t say: “ You are being cruel, demanding and unreasonable”.
  • Don’t self-reference. Don’t say “I can’t” instead say “The task is unachievable under current resource limits, workloads and available time-frames”
spiritual life vs legalism
Spiritual Life vs. Legalism

The Spirit

The Letter / The Law

Brings death

Arouses sin in the members

Brings condemnation

Has no power to change us

Forces us to become slaves living in fear

All about achieving our own righteousness

Leads to hypocrisy

  • Gives life
  • Defeat sin in the members
  • No condemnation
  • Change us powerfully
  • Sets us free to be sons of God rejoicing in Abba Father
  • The free gift of Christ’s righteousness, unearned
  • Gives us grace so we can be transparently ourselves
voices in our head
Voices In Our Head

Jesus Christ

The “Ought To Monster”

Ought to, should, must, have to, gotta, right now…

You will never be good enough

Hurry up on everything

You are not pleasing God, you are a spiritual failure

You are a hopeless reject

Obey more rules

  • My grace is sufficient for you for power is perfected in weakness!
  • Justified! No condemnation
  • Sabbaths, rest, joy, peace
  • Already approved and loved, God’s love is poured out on you
  • You have a future and a hope
  • Trust God in faith
sanctification and freedom
Sanctification and Freedom
  • 2 Corinthians 3:6,118 (HCSB)
  • He has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit produces life. ……Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.
hurrying up is a great sin
“Hurrying Up” Is A Great Sin…
  • Hurry is not “of the Devil”, it IS the Devil! (Martin Luther)
  • When we are “in a hurry” we lose our patience, our kindness, our peace, our goodness, our faithfulness, our gentleness, and soon enough even lose our self-control and our love. Our spiritual fruit “fall off the tree”. We break all the spiritual laws of God just to get something done on time!
  • Sabbath, rest, play and pacing ourselves properly are signs of true faith and obedience to God and are essential to Christian character development.
do less and achieve more
Do Less And Achieve More
  • Slow Down! Godly fruitfulness is more important than mere human “productivity”. Fruitfulness is what God wants!
  • “No time” to truly form people, make disciples ..
  • Quality increases quantity over time, excellence is a powerful multiplier of ministry, excellence gets replicated. People remember excellence for YEARS!! Average is forgotten. Average has no long-term impact.
  • He who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys! (Prov18:9)
  • Slowing down by 70% will increase fruitfulness by 500% - and the fruit will remain.
there is no spiritual ladder to climb
There Is No Spiritual Ladder To Climb!

Sanctification is NOT climbing some great long spiritual ladder with prostitutes and drug addicts on the bottom and Billy Graham at the top…

Jesus was kinder to the supposedly “bottom-of-the-spiritual-ladder” Samaritan woman in John 4 than to the supposedly “top-of-the-spiritual-ladder” Nicodemus in John 3!

Jesus seemed to avoid many of the top-of-the ladder people such as Pharisees, Scribes, and High Priests

On the other hand Jesus actively sought out the supposed “bottom-of-the ladder” people e.g. Roman soldiers, lepers, demoniacs, prostitutes , sinners….

There is no “ladder” of spiritual achievement there is ONLY faith in God and openness to Him……

your life purpose is to become loving
Your Life Purpose Is To Become Loving

We say that

which is in our heart, in our inner being.

We then do what we think, say and believe to be true.

Our thoughts, beliefs, words and actions then cause us to become a certain type of person.

Great Commandments

1. Love God

2. Love Your Neighbor

3. Love One Another As I Have Loved You(Christian Community)

have the right check list
Have The Right Check-List

Burn-out comes from relentlessly measuring ourselves against wrong or foolish standards.

If you measure the wrong things- you get the wrong things

You need God’s checklist not the world’s checklist

There is nothing less important – than being important

Don’t seek fame, personal glory, the love of money or the things of this world or approval by men (even fellow clergy)

Seek approval by God alone!

Have God’s checklist from 1 John: Agape love, obedience to His commandments, righteousness, truth, walking in the Spirit, faith in Jesus as the Son of God, practical Christian living in mercy.

Be diligent to show yourself approved!

know what you should be doing
Know What You Should Be Doing
  • Know your gifts / “ungifts” (disaster areas)
  • Know your calling (which may not be quite the same as your passion)
  • Know your areas to serve / not to serve (Jews , Gentiles etc) and do not try serving outside of them
  • Wrong Area? Poor results, making excuses, negative feedback, no joy, no “flow”, resentment, feeling drained, lack of vision
  • Paul’s mistake: going to the Jews especially in Jerusalem; Peter’s mistake: Going to the Gentiles at Antioch.
  • God made you – “you”!Honor that and be the best “you” that you can be!
  • Develop, improve and expand your skills
  • Be diligent in applying them
  • Do every small thing well as unto the Lord
  • Love the simple things, don’t create complexity
self care

Your Five Main Life Priorities In Order Are: 1. God - staying in the faith > everything else2.Health - staying alive  don’t let work kill you3.Family - staying married > work or ministry4. Friends - love one another is a command5. Ministry – is more important than football

Recover fast – don’t stay irritated for long

Resolve issues quickly! (4R’s: If we don’t Resolve we then Resent and after a while we begin to Reject and finally we may even take ungodly Revenge)

Firmly, clearly indicate “overload” to others

Read new things, play with games, ideas and innovations – make work fun


John Edmiston




21615 Berendo Ave (suite 400)

Torrance CA, 90502 (USA)

Email: johned@aibi.phdigitalopportunities@gmail.com