Purpose Driven Burnout: A Wake-Up Call for Leaders

This is a guest post by YC Chan. YC is a industrial designer, part-time instructor, and inventor with 13 patents. He has served as a counselor in Christian youth fellowships since 1993 and pre-marriage mentoring program since 2011.

The Bible emphasizes on working hard & condemns laziness (in Proverb & in some Parables) …

People say “always be a productive person, contribute to the society & humanity as much as you can…”

The society “ranks” you by your work – your profession, what company you are working for, how much you make…

What does you heart say?

Have you experienced the “Purpose-driven Burnout”?

As a leader (or as a follower), do you find yourself working or serving too hard and feeling weird when you stopped especially where there is no “work” to do, or even you are on vacation?

Do you feel really bad (a voice came up saying “I am useless”) when you are sick, being unproductive at work, at church or in the family, and then work till you drop… or, are you pushing people towards doing so?

I call it “Purpose-driven Burnout” – initiated by anchoring our Meaning or Purpose into our Productivity (or the End Results). It leads to restlessness (also known as…being a workaholic), and you probably know how it would end up (even if you are not there yet, maybe you know someone who is there)

I was suffering from such burnout – but I was lucky (and blessed) enough that God helped me out before it is too late.

There was a “wake up call”, helping me realize the problem lies in the affirmation I crave for. I need (and want) to know I am on the right track (be productive so I can see the good results) that I am living my Purpose and fulfilling my Calling by doing what I “should” do. Quite often I was too harsh on myself, sometimes too harsh to the others especially the ones who are really close to me. As a leader, it is really destructive.

Throughout my life, this mindset (to work towards my Calling & Purpose) motivates me well; however, it also turned into burden that tied me up – I have been trying my very best to do everything I can to achieve the so called “results”, so that I would get affirmations and approvals from others, getting self-affirmation as well. At one point I became insensitive to the needs of the others, and became a stereotypical task-oriented person. That was not a good thing – God is Love, and LOVE is people-oriented!

My wake up call happened when I was meditating and finding out why “being a productive person” was so important to me. The Holy Spirit reminded me of my childhood memories: I was taught that – an unproductive person (who is “useless” by the definition of some people) would be “thrown away”!… it was etched into my heart, became one of my core values, but it also overpowered me. It made me feel insecure if I am not “productive”!

The Holy Spirit resolved it by telling me: “a child is not supposed to be productive, but to be loved !” Then I realized what the real problem was: I thought if I’m not productive, I am not being loved!

Yes, the purpose of our existence is to be loved – He broke my chains, and it’s huge relief!

Jesus has already died for our sins, we have reconciled with God through Jesus Christ. Why are we still so focused on “works”?

Revisiting “the Meaning of Life”, we are also created and given unique combinations of abilities, gifts and talents (so we can also enjoy our existence by doing things, since our God is always at work), which is independent of “we are meant to be loved”.

We shall enjoy a balanced life working (utilizing our God-given abilities) while being loved, and loving each other.

This is the idea behind what I am doing right now – utilizing my talents (my creativity, professional skills of industrial design, drawing & rendering, storytelling, and also my ability to relate daily matters to spiritual inspirations) to produce a pair of dinosaur-shaped products, to reveal my inspirations from God. I call them Buddysaurus:

  • They have a Meaning (or a Purpose) – to help users remember their buddies and inspire them to become better buddies… at the same time they have thoughtful, functional features (one is a dock for recharging your phone; the other is a USB Hub & SD card reader).
  • Their Meaning is independent of their functions, it is to echo: WE mean so much to our Buddies (our friends, our spouse, siblings, parents… all those who are close to you), despite of what we can do, our knowledge, our productivity or our achievements!
  • Our Meaning & Functionality are not repelling each other but they can be in harmony, enhancing our lives & helping others at the same time.


A bit more about Buddysaurus

The Buddysaurus was started as a comic series on Facebook, they are dinosaur buddies walking their life journeys together.

Right now we have a crowdfinding campaign going on at Indiegogo, to raise fund for tooling & the mass-production of the Buddysaurus products. I hope they can materialize into actual products to inspire more people, and to spread Kindness to the un-reached.

If you like the idea, please “spread” it by sharing it with your buddies; you can also pre-order our products to support our cause:  https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/buddysaurus