If you view a challenging season as a gift, being overwhelmed can force you to learn new skills, to develop your leadership, and to expand your capacity. For the Christian, being overwhelmed brings to the end ourselves and helps us depend more on God’s grace and power. On the other side of seasons of being overwhelmed, believers are typically more sanctified.
2020 was, according to many and for many, a year of being completely overwhelmed. According to research by Gallup, 2020 marked a year of a twenty-year low in mental health for Americans. While people longed for the calendar to flip, the beginning of 2021 did not offer the relief people hoped for. We are still in an overwhelming season.
Being overwhelmed is real. People I serve alongside have experienced it. Close friends have shared this season has been the most overwhelming in their careers or their ministry lives. I too have experienced it. One day while discussing challenges, a close friend asked me “Eric, have you discerned if you are overwhelmed or overworked? Because you will deal with being overwhelmed differently than being overworked.”
It was an extremely wise question. I thought about it for days afterwards and discussed it with a therapist. I realized I was experiencing moments of being overwhelmed. The uncertainty. The changes in approaches to fulfill our mission. The grief over aspects of my role that are not the same in a Co-Vid environment. The compounding impact of many things. I was not being overworked; I was overwhelmed.
Why does it matter to properly discern the difference? Because to misclassify being overwhelmed as being overworked can cause you to address the wrong set of issues.