If you’re in ministry, chances are you’ve felt “burned out” at some point or another.
Maybe you’ve felt the signs—you’re irritable, clumsy, angry. You feel dissatisfied or tired all the time. You get sick more and sleep less. Your attenders, coworkers, and family tell you that you’re distant and disconnected. These signs of burnout can eventually turn into consequences—for your health, your family, your ministry.
Christmas, like Easter, is the “big game” for churches—more people attend church during Christmas than any other time of year.
And just like an athlete, we want to be ready for the big game. Healthy. Rested. Passionate. Faith-filled. So, this Christmas season, let’s beat burnout before it starts.
Eternities are at stake.
If we constantly measure ourselves based on performance, accomplishment, approval, stats, goals, or recognition, we’ll burnout. We’re all capable of stepping into these traps, so being strategic about banishing burnout is key.
At our latest all-staff meeting, a few of our campus pastors shared their experiences with burnout and their ten tips for overcoming it.
- Be honest, open, and vulnerable. Sin grows best in the dark. So does burnout. Talk about how you feel with a trusted friend or colleague.
- Make a plan. Burnout doesn’t go away on its own. Talk to your leader, spouse, or even a Christian-based counselor to come up with a game plan.
- Surround yourself with people who will give you honest feedback. Reaching the point of burnout can allow not-so-positive personal attributes, like irritability and apathy, to immerge. Identify what those behaviors are for you, and ask trusted friends to speak up when they see them.
- Find time daily to connect with Christ. Spending time every day with God is a non-negotiable. It doesn’t matter how busy you are, find time to connect with God daily through his Word and prayer.
- Learn to say “no” without explanation and without guilt. Before you say yes to something, consider the cost of that yes. Every ‘yes’ comes with a tax—on our time, emotions, or energy.
- Cultivate long-term thinking. When your eye is on the long-term goals you’ve set—like reaching 600 people in a service, raising Godly children, or building a new campus—it’s easier to weed out the activities that don’t contribute to the goal.
- Set concrete boundaries on your calendar. Preserve the things like family time, exercise, or rest that are important to you.
- Do ministry as a family. Incorporate your family into ministry as much as you can. Hang out with your family between church services, introduce your spouse to attenders, and encourage your kids to serve.
- Identify the ups and downs of your ministry year, and make strategic plans to rest or vacation before busy seasons. If you’re a leader, encourage your team to rest during these quiet seasons, too.
Burnout is a physical issue as well as a spiritual one. Time management, discipline, exercise, rest, and where we place our identity are all contributing factors. Thankfully, we don’t have to do ministry in our own power. God’s power is made perfect in our weakness; therefore, ministry doesn’t rest on our capacity, but on God’s!
The Tenth Tip: Burnout Assessment
Are you flirting with burnout? Gauge your level of burnout by rating these four areas.
- On a scale from 1 to 10, rate your diet and physical activity.
- On a scale from 1 to 10, rate your rest at night.
- On a scale from 1 to 10, rate the health of your work-load.
- On a scale from 1 to 10, rate your spiritual intensity.
Action step: What’s one practical thing you can do to take each number up by one point? Don’t think about moving a “2” up to an “8.” Work on moving each area up by just one. (You don’t want to burn out on recovering from burnout.)
Finally, bring someone you trust into this conversation. Tell them how you’re feeling and ask them to pray for you as you find rest and passion for the mission God’s called you to.
Join the Life.Church Open Network community discussion to hear from pastors around the world about how they’re beating burnout.
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