What the Preeminence of Christ Can Teach Us About Avoiding Burnout


In the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae, he sets before us a panoramic view of the Lord Jesus, exalted in His eternal glory and splendor. This is the very Christ who lives in us and who empowers us in all that the Father has given us to do.

He is the image of the invisible God, (Colossians 1:15a)

Jesus is the God who has become visible. We can see the Father in Him and through Him.

…the firstborn of all creation. (Colossians 1:15b)

Jesus is God’s most highly exalted reigning son. He is seated supremely over all that God has created.

For by him all things were created, (Colossians 1:16a)

Jesus is the source of all that exists. Everything that is has emerged out of His person.

In heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–(Colossians 1:16b)

Jesus is not only the source of physical things, but powers and dominions have come from Him as well.

all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16c)

Jesus is not only the source of everything that is, but the recipient also. All things will be finalized in Him.

And he is before all things, (Colossians 1:17a)

Jesus is preeminent in all of the realms of the earth and heaven, above and before all that exists.

and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17b)

Jesus is the “glue” in the universe! Everything that is together finds its cohesion in Him alone. it is Christ who binds the planets in their orbits and who holds the molecules within their structures. He is the One who keeps our hearts whole and binds our marriages, our families and our churches together.

And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. (Colossians 1:18)

God has designed time and eternity for the single purpose of Jesus, His Son, reigning supreme!

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)

Because all of God’s fullness lived in Jesus, through Him the Father was able to reconcile all things to Himself. It was by Christ’s blood shed at the cross that peace was purchased with God, the righteous One.

Paul continues with this theme of fullness in the first chapter by writing of the way in which he desires to present the Word of God in its fullness (v.25) and to present every person complete in Christ. As He closes the chapter, we see a summary statement of the truths that he taught the Corinthians concerning God’s adequacy in the new covenant.

For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. (Colossians 1:29)

We, too, must learn to labor in ministry through the energy of Christ who lives within us or we will burn out. In our brief glimpses of Paul’s labors, we can quickly see that he kept an incredible schedule and seemed to work endlessly. From Paul’s life we can see that hard work or a heavy schedule are not the primary causes of burnoutBurnout comes from working in the wrong areas, not watching to see what God is doing, and from working in our own strength. When we place our hope in what we are able to do rather than what Christ is able to do, we will collapse when our resources are depleted.

Paul returns to his message of “fullness” in his second chapter.

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. (Colossians 2:9-10)

What a description of who Jesus is–the fullness of God in a physical body! Christ is the fullness of deity in bodily form, and we have been given fullness in Christ! The same Lord Jesus that Paul so wonderfully exalts in his song of worship in Colossians chapter one is the Christ who lives within us and who fills us in every way.

Finishing_Well_I_4cdd87b7eb0b6This post is an excerpt from Finishing Well in Life and Ministry by Bill Mills and Craig Parro.

Burnout is inevitable. Apart from the sustaining presence of God, the pressures of ministry are more than any man or woman can bear. Learn from Elijah, Moses, David, Jeremiah, Peter, Paul and the Lord Jesus. This book will help you, so that, like Jesus, you will be able to declare to the Father, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”

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Craig Parro

Since joining Leadership Resources International in 1989, Craig directed its international ministry, and as of January 2010, he now serves as President. A graduate of TEDS (M.A., Mission), Craig is a stimulating teacher and has equipped and encouraged pastors and churches throughout the U.S., Latin America and Asia. Craig also serves on the Board of Directors of TOPIC (Trainers of Pastors International Coalition), an association of pastoral training organizations focused on accelerating pastoral training worldwide. Craig has authored articles appearing in several magazines. His first book, Unlikely Warriors, was published in 1992. He is also co-author of Finishing Well in Life and Ministry: God’s Protection from Burnout.