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Staff Health

I Feel Like I’m Barely Hanging On!

| 2 min read

Written by Dan Navarra
Apr 8, 2022 8:00:00 AM

I was in a conversation a while back with a few ministry friends, and someone asked me for strategies on how not to burn out or quit when feelings of frustration arise in life and ministry. While there’s no magic wand to wave, my response in that conversation raised eyebrows enough to share it here because everyone needs a little lifeline from time to time.


The Bucket of Bitterness principle recognizes that every time you feel offense or a tinge of frustration in any relationship in your life, whether you know it or not, you are placing a drop of bitterness in your bucket of bitterness. There is nothing proprietary about The Bucket of Bitterness principle, but it’s an unrealized reality. We all have buckets, and they all have varying waterlines based on the strain of the relationships around us.

Perhaps you have a spouse who keeps doing that thing that annoys you constantly, even though you’ve shared it with them countless times. It could be that your boss keeps sending emails or text messages after work hours or you have an employee who just can’t seem to show up on time after repeated warnings. Whatever the relationship and the reason, we all have things that touch us at a soul-level that the universe has coached us to put up with. But what most don’t realize is that every time you “just put up with” the thing that is bothering you, you’re placing a drop of water in your bitterness bucket. And over time, the waterline rises and rises and rises.

Then, one day, the bucket is filled to the brim, and you have no capacity left to “just deal” with the thing that is making you bitter. Do you know what happens? You kick the bucket! This may present itself as a blow-up, an argument, a physical adrenaline-fueled interaction, a dive into numbing, substance abuse, or pornography, or even an affair.

You kick the bucket when you’ve just had it, and things begin to blow up.

Maybe you don’t feel like you’re capable of a big blow-up like the ones I just listed above. Let me tell you, Romans 3:23 touches all of us. Everyone is susceptible to sin and temptation. If you see yourself as immune, you’re more vulnerable than you think.

So what can we do to avoid kicking the metaphorical bucket and splashing our bitterness all over the place (and causing major damage along the way)? The solution is to tend to the bucket.

The bucket is your soul: holding pain and bitterness pollutes your soul and takes up space that the love of God was intended to fill in you. So, it’s up to us to invite God to do what only he can do whenever we place a drop of water in our bucket: invite Him to tend to our souls and heal the bitterness in our buckets.

Go for a walk. Find a quiet place and spend time with God, pouring out your heart to him. Better yet, steal a day or a few days away for a silent retreat by yourself. Remove the things that pull you away from extended time with God and make space for God to speak to you. He hears you, sees you, and wants to meet you in your pain. Let Him tend to the bucket, and you’ll find that as you release the bitterness to your loving Father, God will change your heart and grow in you the fruit of the Spirit you need to continue doing what He has called you to do.


Have anything to add? I'd love to hear from you!


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