Several times a year, Dr. Swindoll preaches in chapel at DTS and engages in a question-and-answer time with prospective students. Here are some of the questions he answered recently.
How do you handle change?
I have to keep asking myself if I’m staying flexible. I also remind myself that God is a God of freshness and change. God himself never changes nor his Son. His Word is immutable. He remains the same “yesterday and today and forever” (Heb 13:8).
God’s work, however, is innovative and creative. His working changes even though he stays consistent. The Bible describes his ways as “higher” (Isa 55:8–9) and his mercies as “new” every morning (Lam 3:22–23). Now that’s creative!
God is faithful, but he’s always changing things up for us—making things new. God flexes his design processes and alters his methods so that we can experience him in new ways. It’s a course of action he implements to keep our relationship with him growing.
Scripture commands us to be “imitators” of God—to “mimic” him. So one of the ways we can do that is to keep asking ourselves the change questions on a regular basis: Am I currently open to change? Am I willing to risk? Am I flexible enough to innovate? Am I willing to endure the possibility of making a massive change in the direction God is leading? Will this change draw me closer to God?
What advice do you have for someone who is struggling from burnout?
If you’re saying, I’m burned out, it’s a good thing that you know. I’m proud of you for admitting it. Except for our time with the Lord, self-talk is one of the most important conversations anyone can have. What you tell yourself is what you believe.
First, make a change of pace. Take a break, get some rest, for an extended amount of time. Go see a good movie or spend some time with a close friend. If you’re married, plan a little downtime with your spouse to talk. Say “no” to things that demand more of your time. Get away. Refueling is part of God’s creation design and it is good.
Second, run to a friend in your life who listens. It is a real gift from God. I have a friend on our church staff who serves as the minister of music. He’s the best listener I’ve ever known. If I want to share something with him, he does not probe. He never questions my motive. He never reminds me of something I preached that I’m not modeling right now. He only listens.
Sometimes, Cynthia or I have said to the other, “I’m weary tonight. I feel like I’m losing my momentum.” Momentum is a big part of our lives. And she’s so good to listen.
Remember everyone needs times of renewal. God does his masterful work of motivation when our morale and vision get reignited through the care of a listening friend or by taking time away. When that happens, a burst of momentum returns, and we’re back on our feet, pressing forward toward the goal.