Burnout: Week 2 Discussion Guide

CoreGroup Guide | Burnout - Week 2

Last week Pastor Matt began our sermon series called Burnout: Rest and the Power of Going Dark. We learned that burnout is defined as a state of emotional, spiritual, mental, and/or physical exhaustion. But at the end of the sermon, Matt suggested that, “Burnout is not really about overworking; it’s about an unhealthy rhythm of living.” In other words, burnout is not a problem that can be solved with a new calendar system, the latest technology, or by simply working less. Burnout is a spiritual problem that requires a spiritual solution. 
In today’s CoreGroup discussion we will start to look at one such solution: the gift of Sabbath. Creating space for a regular time of sabbath can be a challenge, that’s for sure! It requires that we push the pause button on our busy lives and actually take time to rest in God. This is not an easy task, especially in a culture that values work, productivity, and being busy as much as ours. It requires a fundamental shift in how we value our time and our life rhythms.
We’re glad you’re here! Let’s begin in prayer.

Opening Prayer: 
Encourage the group to close their eyes and take five DEEP breaths together —

…. Breathe in rest…. Breathe out worry.…
…. Breathe in peace…. Breathe out chaos….
…. Breathe in joy…. Breathe out angst….
…. Breathe in love…. Breathe out loneliness….
…. Breathe in hope…. Breathe out despair….

Dear God, thank you for bringing each of us to CoreGroup today. Thank you for the rhythm of this group, the rhythm of our breath, the rhythm of the seasons, and the rhythm of the natural world all around us. Thank you for the opportunity to come together today to learn more about Sabbath. We pray that you challenge us, guide us, nurture us, and be with us as we jump into today’s discussion. In your son’s name we pray, Amen.

Ice Breaker:
Today’s discussion is all about creating a life rhythm that includes intentional time for rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation. What is your favorite activity to do on a day off? What activity is guaranteed to make you feel more rested, relaxed, and rejuvenated?

Circle Back:
At the end of last week’s CoreGroup discussion, we were challenged to consider the “3 R” strategy of Relax, Reflect, and Regroup. Did anybody have an opportunity to practice any of these? If so, how did this strategy help you notice the places of burnout in your life?

The Head:
Early in the Old Testament we read the story of God choosing a man named Moses to deliver God’s people from slavery in Egypt. To do this, God parts the Red Sea and the Israelites escape from their captivity. Following this event, Moses leads the people to Mount Sinai where God gives Moses some guidelines for holy living, including the Ten Commandments.

Read Exodus 20:1-17 out loud together as a group, either with one person reading the whole thing or by going around the circle with each person reading a different commandment.

“Then God spoke all these words,
‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.

You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above or that is on the earth beneath or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and consecrated it.

Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

You shall not murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female slave, ox, donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.’”

Read these ten commandments again to yourself. What do you notice about their length and the amount of detail provided for each? Do some seem more important than others? How so?

What do you learn specifically about the commandment related to Sabbath? What is the significance of taking a weekly Sabbath? Do you think this frequency is still as relevant and important today as it was during the time of Moses? Why or why not?

Last week we briefly looked at the end of the creation story found in the book of Genesis. Take another look at this scripture with the idea of Sabbath in mind. This is Genesis 2:2-3:
“On the sixth day God completed all the work that he had done, and on the seventh day God rested from all the work that he had done. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all the work of creation.”

What does this scripture teach us about God? What does it teach us about establishing healthy, holy, life rhythms? How can we model our own spiritual practices after God?

If time allows, read Matthew 12:1-14. What additional insights about Sabbath can we glean from this scripture? It seems that the Pharisees are determined to make sure all of God’s rules are followed perfectly, but what pushback does Jesus offer? How does this influence your own approach to taking a Sabbath?

The Heart: 
In the book Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us, author Adele Ahlberg Calhoun says this about Sabbath:
“The Jewish understanding of sabbath embraced a special twenty-four hour rest time that was different from every other day. Other days of the week were given over to work, but the sabbath reminded people that they were finite. They could not constantly be on the go. There were limits to their energy. And to honor these limitations was to honor the infinite God, who himself worked and rested” (p. 41).

In what ways does taking time for rest, or Sabbath, remind us that we are finite? How does it feel to acknowledge that you have limitations and that you cannot possibly, ever, get all that you want to do accomplished? In what ways is this a gift from God?

What does it mean to have a rhythm of life? What dictates your current life rhythm? What are the indicators that your life has gotten out of rhythm? If you feel comfortable, share an example with the group of a time when your life felt out of rhythm or unbalanced.

What are the roadblocks you face when taking time for intentional rest and Sabbath? What do you need to overcome those challenges?

The Hands:
In the same book referenced above, Calhoun suggests that, “Sabbath is God’s way of saying, ‘Stop. Notice your limits. Don’t burn out.’ It is a day he gives us to remember who and what work is for as well as what matters most” (p. 42).

What invitation is God offering you today?
What will it take for you to stop and notice your limits?
What is at risk if you implement an intentional time of rest into your life rhythm?

This week, look for opportunities to practice the discipline of Sabbath. It doesn’t need to be a whole day, and it doesn’t need to look a certain way. Each person’s Sabbath will be unique! As you work on incorporating this practice into your life, notice what thoughts and emotions come up for you. Notice the places that bring you joy and peace, but also the places that bring you frustration and discouragement. What support might you need to fully incorporate this practice of Sabbath into your life rhythm? What steps will you take to find that support?

Closing Prayer:
Dear God, thank you again for this day and for this opportunity to start establishing more life-giving rhythms and routines in our lives. Sometimes we think we can go and go and go, that we can stay up just a little bit later, that we can squeeze in one more activity, that we can cross off one more thing from the never-ending to-do list. But we can’t, and we know that! Thank you, God, for the gift of Sabbath. As we go forward today, help us to see our limits; help us to reclaim what matters most in life; help us to hear that voice deep inside that reminds us to stop, rest, and rejoice in you. In your name we pray, Amen.

Burnout discussion guide writers: Jenny Huffman & Chris Burford

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