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Mental health is a delicate topic, but it’s one we can’t afford to ignore and not understand. The mental health collapse of people makes the headlines almost every day and it’s why you need to see and hear what the Bible has to say about that.
Your mental health is of profound impact and value, not only to you and to your family, but also to the broader society. And to the kingdom of God. In Mark 6:31, Jesus had just finished a series of meetings. Amazing signs, wonders, miracles occurred. Thousands were impacted by the power of the Holy Spirit through His life.
Mark 6:31 says, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ ”
The disciples were not the principal speaker or the primary leader but they were still giving out emotionally and engaged in the work of ministering to people. Though you may not be clergy or you may not even work in one of the service professions, whether a physician, a nurse, or someone in the restaurant industry, I want you to understand, you give out emotional energy.
Jesus was very concerned about the spiritual and mental health of His disciples. He was telling them you can’t just soldier on after you’ve gone through a series of work or extended time of ministry. Your mental health requires care. There must be a sense of resilience where you bounce back by renewing yourself and recharging yourself. You have to do the things that are preventative so that you can experience wellness so that your life and ministry are sustainable.
When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting and less scary.
Jesus gave His disciples three tips to help them really have a mentally healthy lifestyle.
TIP NUMBER ONE: SET LIMITS
In Mark 6:31 it says, they didn’t even have a chance to eat. You need to establish limits or boundaries that ensure that you’re not always in performance mode, work mode, school mode, that you’re not always in the doing mode.
It’s almost like you put a wall in place.
It’s like a therapeutic wall that says I can’t take another patient. I can’t see another person. I can’t respond to another email. I can’t have another meeting. Not right now. I’m not in the right place mentally. I’m setting limits.
Jesus was saying to his disciples, I don’t want you to just soldier on. I want you to stop because if you’re not able to eat, sleep, exercise and you’re always on, it means you haven’t set limits. And that means you have a problem.
There must be limits in your life where you are able to say that your workday has come to a close and you can recharge. Jesus was telling His disciples, there’s always going to be people that are needy. There’s always going to be another miracle that must be worked. There’s always going to be another person that’s in need of prayer. There’s always going to be another person that’s in need of wisdom and insight because they’re going through a complex time in their lives.
Jesus was not trying to simplify, reduce or devalue the needs of people. He was just simply telling His disciples, make sure you build into the structure of your life, limits that you set, as if it were a line you draw and say, that’s a line, that’s a boundary I’m drawing. And that boundary says, I don’t want to go past it, and I don’t want anyone else to pass it.
Pay attention to the interior part of your life, the fuel that you need in your soul. It’s so important.
Jesus was teaching His disciples to avoid burnout.
Don’t let your mental health be compromised to the point where you are not the best you, the real you, the one that God has called to help people. You will not be that if you don’t avoid burnout.
Burnout means physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress. In other words, you’re listless. You’re not who you are supposed to be.
Pay attention because there are signs of burnout. There are things that increase inside of you while other things decrease inside of you. There are indicators that you’re on the verge of burnout.
For example, there’s an increase in cynicism. You’ll develop a sarcastic, jaded, cynical, skeptical perspective and you see it by your words. If you are becoming more and more cynical, you’re on the verge of burnout.
There’s a decrease in creativity. You’re emotionally exhausted and sapped of your creative energy. You’re not losing your touch. You just need to stop and set limits so you can recharge.
There’s an increase in exhaustion. You feel tired all the time. This can be felt in the areas of mental, emotional and spiritual exhaustion. Sometimes it’s the anxiety level. Sometimes you’re watching too much news and overwhelmed with negativity. You wake up after a full night’s sleep and you’re still exhausted.
There’s a decrease in empathy. You stop having the same level of compassion and care like you once did.
There’s an increase of mistakes on your job and in your schoolwork, attention to detail has slipped.
There’s a decrease in motivation. You don’t have the same enthusiasm as you did before.
Jesus tells us to set limits. Do you have these boundaries in your life that are very clear and defined? Are you able to say, I’m guarding my mental health?
TIP NUMBER TWO: TAKE BREAKS
Jesus said to His disciples, come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. He was saying, take breaks. When you take breaks, you recognize the sacred rhythm of God, that there’s a work and rest cycle.
Jesus was teaching His disciples that they must take a rest, don’t violate the sacred rhythm of God.
Rest has to be a cycle. Work, rest, work, rest. That rhythm must be there.
If you have a job or if you’re a student, you have schoolwork and you have to produce results, there’s a constant expectation. In other words, what did you do for me lately? Where’s the work output. Let me see your grades. Let me see your performance.
This whole idea of the work/rest cycle is very important. Your life should not be totally just about work. You may say, I enjoy my work, but you’re still violating God’s sacred rhythm. It may sound good right now, but it’s not sustainable and won’t continue for long. You may get all the people in your family angry at you because you’re always there in front of your screen and always absorbed at work. You’re sitting at the dining room table and instead of eating dinner and having family conversations, you’re checking your cellphone.
Why not consider having a basket and all the cellphones go into the basket or all the cellphones go into another room and they are turned off, or on vibrate, and you can sit and just enjoy family.
Jesus was trying to teach His disciples that there’s a sacred rhythm: work, rest, work rest.
You need to recognize the rest part of the cycle. The rest cycle allows you to take breaks and rejuvenate.
What do you do during the rest cycle? You get away. That’s what you do.
Change your physical surroundings.
That’s what Jesus was saying. Come with me, listen to your heart, and ask yourself questions.
Who am I?
Who am I becoming?
Who do I want to become?
These are penetrating questions and reflective questions that happen when you take a break.
Jesus was telling us to get away and rest, and He was also telling us to get alone. Go to a quiet place. He said, when you’re alone, it gives you a chance to listen.
But, what are you listening for?
You’re listening for God’s heart.
You’re listening for what God is saying.
You’re listening for what God is saying to you.
Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you took a break and got away to get together with others?
That’s the other critical piece when you deal with the issue of rest. Jesus said to His disciples come with me by yourselves. Part of rejuvenation, part of rest, is the social connections of people.
You get away with others who are not asking you questions or trying to pick your brain. They’re not looking to be mentored by you. They’re not looking to be tutored. They are your peers, your contemporaries.
And Jesus said to His disciples, come with me by yourselves and get some rest.
In other words, the work, rest, work, rest cycle must be something that you put in place.
TIP NUMBER THREE: RECHARGE SPIRITUALLY
The presence of God is rejuvenating. When you’re exhausted and you go into the presence of God in worship, in prayer, in church service and in fellowship with your brothers and sisters, it rejuvenates you.
When you get into reading the Word and you’re sitting there, and you’re not in a hurry, you get recharged. Moses did that. When he came down from the mountain, being there for 40 days, he was recharged.
When you’re in the presence of God, you’re reminded why you’re doing what you’re doing. Why you’re serving your family the way you. Why you’re caring for your kids, the way you are. You are reminded why you’re so thoughtful about your job. You are reminded why you’re so concerned about your spiritual life and your church and the advancement of the kingdom of God.
When you’re in the presence of God, you’re reminded as to why you fell in love with Jesus. In the presence of God you say, God help me to fall in love with you all over again.
I’ve learned that there are different ways you access the manifest presence of God. Certainly, God is omnipresent. He’s everywhere at once. But the Bible teaches the manifest presence of God is equally real.
God shows up at a specific place among a specific people at a specific time. And you sense His presence there.
What brings the manifest presence of God into your life?
Maybe it’s worship. That’s what it did for Elisha. In 2 Kings chapter three, Elisha was angry when certain Kings approached him and he said, bring me a minstrel, a harpist, someone anointed to cry out to God. When the harpists played, the presence of God came upon Elisha and he prophesied.
Maybe you are like Elijah. For Elijah, it was this sense of brutal honesty. In 1 Kings 19:10, Elijah was overwhelmed. He was suicidal. He was saying, God, kill me. I’m the only one left. And when he said that, the honesty of where he was, the spirit of God showed up, the manifest presence of God showed up.
You need to get into the presence of God. And I’m not just talking about your daily devotional time. You may need to have a special time on a specific day where for an hour you say, God, I just want to get with you.
Everything I’ve talked about above applies to children and adults—it applies to everybody. You must set limits, take breaks and recharge spiritually.
Take a moment right now, close your eyes, block out the world around you.
And I want to ask you this very pointed question. What is it that you’ve been wanting to say to the Lord, but you’ve been too busy and you have not had a chance to say it?
Let me ask you a second question. What is it that the Lord has been wanting to say to you but you’ve been too distracted to hear Him say it?
Talk to Him and listen to what He’s saying to you.