We hear a lot about “‘burnout ” occurring among men in our culture. Recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirm this fact. It found that among men ages 50-54, the suicide rate increased 49% between 1999 and 2010. Overall, men are nearly four times more likely to commit suicide than women. Men in our culture seem to be doing to much for the wrong reasons with not enough time or energy to do what is on their “to do list”. I wonder if from time to time we need to change the paradigm in our lifestyle and considered the phenomena of “drainout” rather than “burnout.”
I ran across this quote from Bernard of Clairvoux that could apply to drainout, in which he visualizes canals and reservoirs. Bernard was a spiritual leader back in the 11th century. “The man who is wise, therefore, will see his life as more like a reservoir than a canal. The canal simultaneously pours out what it receives; the reservoir retains the water till it is filled, then discharged the overflow without loss to itself……Today there are many in the church who act like canals, the reservoirs are far too rare…You too must learn to await this fullness before pouring out your gifts, do not try to be more generous than God.” We read in I Thess. 3:12, “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.”
What does a man do to take care of his spiritual reservoir. First I would say, don’t be concerned about the size of your reservoir. That is God’s concern. Our task is having the right spiritual habits to keep our reservoir filled, irregardless of how we feel spiritually. These habits will usually consist in taking time to be with God. Meditating on His Word and being still before him, puts you into the position to receive. Filling will not come while you are on the run. I know this is not easy for men. But there is no other option. The Psalmist tells us, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps.46:10). Just taking 15 minutes out of 24 hours is a good start.
Secondly, be convinced in your mind that “being” is more important than “doing.” The doing will come out of the quality of your being. Our attitude should be more like that of Mary when she consented to be the mother of of Lord. “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled” (Luke 1:38). How God keeps your reservoir filled is his work. Like Mary our place is to consent to what God is doing. So my third point is this: don’t try to figure out how God is doing the filling. Come before him in honesty. Pray something like this: “Lord, I am dry and thirsty. I feel empty. There is not a lot in my tank. I have tried hard to be good and to keep going. I come to you in deep dependence. I don’t know how you will do it, but I come to you, asking that you renew my soul.”