Psalms 139:16 reminds us, “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (NIV). God not only knows our days, but He also has ordained specific things for each one of them. Burnout happens when we try to scribble extra notes in the margins and between the lines on the pages He’s already written.

#2 - Focus on areas of strength. Sometimes we forget that we are gifted differently. God doesn’t expect us to be good at everything, but He does expect us to use the gifts He gave us, for His glory. When doubts assail us, it serves our needs better—and glorifies God—to concentrate our efforts in areas where He has gifted us. That might mean completely setting aside schoolwork today in order to serve a neighbor. Jesus Himself was called to certain tasks by the Father and sometimes said “no” to assignments He wasn’t called to do.

As a homeschooling parent, one of the most freeing things I’ve done was to loosen my grip on my lesson plans and schedules, especially when my kids got to be juniors and seniors in high school. That is almost directly opposed to common thinking, because those junior/senior years are typically when we pile on more, study harder, test, and prepare! 

Nonetheless, I turned a big dose of control over to my kids, allowing them to pursue (with guidance) their unique gifts. This meant they focused primarily on their personal areas of interest: writing music and recording a CD, starting a photography business, concentrating on an Electronics course, studying ornithology, and holding part-time jobs that gave them valuable, real-world experience. As for “school” work, they kept up with just enough math and writing to remain well rounded as they applied life principles to projects that were dear to them. It’s worked out very nicely.

#3 - Focus on a new direction. At any time during the school year, we should prayerfully discern the direction that will bring our family the most satisfaction. What is it that really makes your family tick? Camping? History? Participating in a club like 4-H? Whatever you find to be most rewarding, simply pray first and head that way. Gear your schooling around those pursuits instead of limiting it to a box of curricula.

Some ministries burn out because the person ministering is using his or her own strengths and not going in a direction that brings personal satisfaction. He may try to follow somebody else’s plan (or curriculum) for success. What is homeschooling to us if it is not ministry to our families? Pray your own plan, and be listening when God says, “ . . . Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16, ESV).

#4 - Focus on friendship. If you don’t have a support system, either through your family or church, you are on a special playing field. You must seek it out. Get on a social network, find online forums, and read magazines like The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, but foremost, remember that God is your companion. Dwell in Him. Put yourself in a (prayerful) position that will find you smothered in His strength and guidance. He will support you, and He will bring others who are like-minded into your path at the right time. 

Letting Go

You might have noticed that overcoming burnout involves letting go. Like it or not, plans fall apart. Exhaustion sweeps in. Life happens. “Rising above” means we sometimes have to relinquish control, but don’t equate that with failure. As we take time to rest and free ourselves and our children to live as God leads, we let go of anxiety and are then free to grasp the opportunities that are lying before us today—opportunities waiting to grow us in faith, character, and knowledge. 

So let go, walk in God’s strength each day, and remember that “little is much when God is in it.”

Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the January 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade magazine for homeschool families. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com  or read it on the go and download the free TOS apps to read the magazine on your Kindle Fire or Apple or Android devices.

Naomi and husband Jeff enjoy epic adventures in northern Wisconsin with their five adult children, at home or nearby. Naomi is the author of several inspirational novels, including the Empire in Pine series from Desert Breeze Publishing, and she mentors young writers through tutorials at A NOVEL Writing Site. Visit her at www.naomimusch.com

Publication date: December 3, 2012