Unburdened: It’s Not What You Might Think

Man standing in a grassy field with his hands up in freedom

By Michael Todd Wilson

“Come . . . all who are . . . burdened. . . . my burden is light.” This is a very different kind of unburdening than we’d initially think and, on brief reflection, different than we might even want.

The idea of being unburdened conjures up images of running a full-tilt Olympic sprint without restraints, completely unencumbered. We certainly have this in store for us in heaven, but this isn’t going to be our experience now. Instead, what we’re offered here is the freedom to no longer have to pull the entire load ourselves.

What’s the heavy burden we’ve been pulling?

1. performing and people-pleasing for acceptance from others and ourselves
2. religious piety to gain acceptance from God
3. as Christian leaders, doing both of these alone at the top

The yoke Jesus speaks of is that old-fashioned farming tool used to leverage the strength of oxen to till the farmer’s land. In the metaphor, Christ offers us to join his yoke, meaning he not only offers to be our “yoke fellow” (a constant companion for the journey) but also to bear the brunt of the load for us as the stronger ox.

Note that the burden isn’t absent, but rather “light.” What, then, is the nature of the weight of this new, lighter burden? It’s the weight of

1. remaining in the yoke (similar to the abiding in the vine concept of John 15)
2. surrendering to his path and the work he wants to do in and through us

Trying to pull in a different direction than he’s going will result in chaffing and pulled muscles—not from doing the work but from the yoke itself. In this sense, true freedom comes from a different place than we’d expect. Our natural mind thinks freedom comes from one of two endpoints: either the complete indulgence of our sin or else the complete unrestraint from any sin struggle at all. Instead, Jesus says true freedom comes from the “light and easy” work of being in the harness alongside him.

Incidentally, Jesus says he’s “gentle and humble in heart.” This means he’s not going to say, “Get it right or else” be punished, verbally shamed or have something good withheld (like we might have experienced in childhood). Rather, he gently whispers, “I love you and I’m sorry you made a harmful choice. How can I help you bandage this up and get back on your feet again?”

Note the implications for how we treat ourselves here as well. If we’re going to be harnessed with Christ, we need this same gentleness and humility with ourselves, especially when we feel the burden getting heavier again from not following his lead.

While this has application for every believer, would this somehow apply any less to the Christian leader? Of course not. However, except for unique situations, this likely can’t be played out publicly in real time in front of our congregation or the ministry participants we lead. As Christian leaders, we need support from those who understand our unique situation and are willing to extend grace as we imperfectly work through things.

Practically speaking, each of us needs at least one person we can reach out for such support. This is a safe person who can be cultivated for such a purpose. If we don’t have one, we may need to pay for one. Professionals like me exist for a reason. It can be expensive, but lack of support in a critical time can be even more expensive, costing significantly more than just dollars. Think about it: What’s the price of a lost marriage partner, visitation to kids on the other side of the country or the complete loss of decades of ministry investment?

It’s that important.

Click here to read the original blog on IntentionalHearts.com

From Unburdened by Michael Todd Wilson. InterVarsity Press, September 2015. Copyright (c) 2015 by Michael Todd Wilson. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press.

Michael Todd Wilson is a Professionally-trained Life Coach with a passion to support Christian ministry leaders toward sustained effectiveness and impact. He also specializes in resourcing parents who have concerns about their children(s) sexuality, as well as leading Christian men away from sexual sin and towards a life consistent with their deeper identity in-Christ. After 15 years experience as a Licensed Professional Counselor in a traditional counseling practice, Michael Todd has made his expertise available through a private practice (Intentional Hearts) accessible from anywhere using a phone or video connection.

About Ron Cook

Ron and his wife Rodetta have been married 39 years. They have actively served the Lord together in ministry during the entire time and are co-founders of Care for Pastors. Ron ministers to hundreds of pastors annually through mentorship, counseling and by phone. He has been a Pastor for 39 years and understands the stress of ministry, and wants to share his longevity in ministry with other pastors and help them finish well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Please fill out the form below to download your FREE Care for Pastors Sunday Planning Guide.
*We hate spam and never share your details.
Thank You. If your download doesn't start automatically check your email.
Thanks for participating in Care for Pastors Sunday!
8% Contribution (Physical Products)
5% Contribution (Digital Products)

As the world's largest distributor of Christian products, Christianbook.com provides online access to their premier selection of Christian products--over 500,000 books, Bibles, DVDs, CDs, gifts, toys, games, and more.
0.5% Contribution (Per Purchase)

AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know. Same products, same prices, same service.

Support your charitable organization by starting your shopping at smile.amazon.com
15% Contribution (Monthly)

Guard yourself and your loved ones with Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability and Filtering.

Our goal is to equip people with tools that provide protection and encourage accountability and trust in the fight against Internet temptation.
4% Contribution (Monthly)

Everyone deserves affordable legal and identity theft protection. Including you.

With LegalShield on your side, you have the power to access legal and identity theft advice and services when you need them, all for one low monthly fee.