My One Word: Listen and Learn

I just knew that when I embraced My One Word for this year – listen, I was going to go on a ride.

One of my pastoral privileges is to spend Wednesday night with a group of kids and tell them the Bible story of the week. We are using Zondervan’s The Story for Kids which is enabling us to tell the major stories of the Bible over the course of a year. With weather cancellations and an advent season full of off-site projects and service, we are only on week 12, this week’s lesson and the story of David and Bathsheba.

Now, how do you address a group of kids when the issue of adultery comes up and you know, and some of them know (unfortunately), what that is, while the other kids have absolutely no idea what it is?

But as I shared the story, I remembered the opening of 2 Samuel 11 “In the spring, when kings go off to war… David stayed home.”

I have always stopped and asked myself, “Why?”

I did this past Wednesday night as I told the story.

Why did David stay home and enjoy a latte with soy milk, shot of cherry, shot of amaretto, and whipped cream, when the troops were out there dying of thirst and dying on David’s behalf?

Lots of thoughts come to mind.

He was sick and need more recuperation time.

He was tired.

His armor was not ready.

A family member was sick.

Or maybe he was burned out on campaigning.

But wasn’t a king’s place with his troops when they went to war?


Lots of images and emotions come to mind when that word shows up.

To me burnout sneaks up on us. It does not hit us in the face. It drugs us until we slowly slump into an emotional, mental, and spiritual stupor. It leaves us like a drunk hung over… weeping.

At a very brutal time in my life, I experienced burnout. But it was in the context of being out of kilter and not wanting to be on the field of ministry anymore. I was drained of faith, hope, and love. I was a mess.

Could have this been David? Worn, tired (notice the pacing back and forth he does as noted in 2 Samuel 11:2), and out of kilter.

And then Bathsheba appears in his line of sight.

And David made the first of several fatal choices that brought pain and suffering not relief and renewal to him.

I also made a word cloud of the opening verses of 2 Samuel 11, a marvelous way to illustrate a segment of scripture or some other text and this is what I came up with:


Notice anything about it? One word, one person exists over everything else – David.

The word ego (some times used acrostically as Edging God Out) pops into my mind and I wonder, “How much of a role does ego play in burnout?” How much did it play in David’s downward spiral? I think that the 2 Samuel text supports the idea of an ego driven yet exhausted monarch  heading quickly downhill.

One of the things I am beginning to experience about this One Word listen, is that it requires me to STOP, LISTEN, and LEARN about what is going on inside of me – the anxiety, the fear of both failure and success, and the varied temptations which Satan throws my way as a poisonous dose to take in relief. But I am also beginning to see an ego present which thinks itself invincible and it also demanding it’s needs be met. Really?

Was David pacing back and forth because he was not listening? Or perhaps his ego would not let him listen.

A fatal place to be.

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