Richard Exley Ministries

The Driven Man

Are you conscientious and hard working, do you find it impossible to rest as long as any task remains unfinished, do you constantly push yourself to the point of exhaustion and beyond? If so, then you are just the man I want to talk to. I want to help you learn how to balance work, rest, worship and play before you burnout.

You may be a visionary pouring your life into the work of the Kingdom.  Or you may simply be ambitious, driven to succeed, driven to prove to yourself and the world that you can do it, that you are somebody. Then again you might just be trying to live up to your parents' unrealistic expectations, still searching for their approval and affirmation.

Whatever the case, your life is probably out of harmony and bursting at the seams with busyness. Even when you succeed you experience only a momentary reprieve before the old emptiness returns. All too soon you are looking for new challenges, new projects to tackle so you can once again prove your worth. 

In the company of others you likely appear confident and outgoing, but it is often just a facade.  You feed upon their presence, drawing strength from their attention and approval.  Alone, however, you seem to shrink within yourself.  The self-doubt your gregarious personality disguises now returns with a vengeance.  The tormenting inner voices suggest that if others really knew you they would know how phony you are no matter your success.  As a consequence you can never rest.  More is never enough! You are constantly in need of reassurance from the people around you to keep the nagging voices within at bay. (click here to continue reading)

Even if you do succeed in escaping your haunting self-doubts you will likely find that your success is double-edged. Every benefit is offset by increased responsibilities. Now you find yourself working harder than ever just to keep up with the never-ending demands. The pressure is relentless. There's no time for family or friends, no time for solitude or self. Even God is often crowded out.

You are not a bad person. In fact, given a chance your friends will likely give you a glowing recommendation.  And it's your virtue, your goodness that is your undoing. You are most likely a need-centered person and every need you see becomes your personal responsibility.  You are probably a committed Christian, a hard working man trying to manage both your family and your career.   You may be a minister, or involved in one of the helping professions. Unfortunately the good you accomplish does not make you immune to the accompanying stress and the cost can be staggeringly high—an empty marriage, resentful children, burnout.

I’ve just described the man I used to be and although I am constantly in danger of reverting to my driven life-style, I take hope because Jesus showed us how to overcome our propensity for busyness.  Like us, He was often pressed on all sides.  Everywhere He went needy people mobbed him.  So great were the demands of ministry placed upon Him that Mark says, “...he and his disciples were not even able to eat” (Mk. 3:20).  To His credit Jesus managed to balance the work of ministry with both rest and worship thus avoiding burnout. Not infrequently He withdrew from public ministry in order to renew His physical energies and restore His spiritual strength.  It was not weakness but wisdom that moved Him to seek solitude for a season. 

If Jesus needed to practice the rhythm of life in order to remain effective and fulfilled then it only stands to reason that we do also, only more so.  The pace of contemporary life simply amplifies our need for that delicate balance between work and rest, worship and play.  Who among us is not in danger of becoming enslaved by the very things that were supposed to make our lives more manageable?  Pagers, cellular phones, notebook computers and email all threaten to take us hostage?  No matter where we go, our work goes with us.  In truth, our time – that is our life – is not our own. 

Yet life doesn't have to be like that, it doesn't have to be a rat race. With God’s help you can turn your life around.  Your work can be meaningful again.  Rest can renew, worship can inspire, and play can be the joyous pleasure that seasons it all.

Let me invite you to pause in the mad rush of busyness and examine your life. Ask yourself some hard questions.  Are you practicing the rhythm of life – that delicate balance between work and rest, worship and play? Are you fulfilled? Are the most important relationships in your life in good repair? Do you take time for yourself? For God? What about play? Are you fun to live with? These are just some of the issues I will be dealing with in my book “Living in Harmony,” as I try to help you implement principles that will enable you to truly live life to the fullest.

This article has been excerpted from  “Living in Harmony” by Richard Exley