Being Honest About Burnout
“If you’re not careful, you’ll burn yourself out.”
“You better take a break. You don’t want to burn out.”
These are just a few of the things I’ve heard concerning burnout in ministry.
I knew about it.
I knew all of the steps to avoid it.
I had experienced it before and made a commitment to never pour myself out so much without being filled back up.
And yet, I recently found myself in the exact place I did not want to be:
There were several things that led up to feeling this way. If you’ll take a look at my last blog post, “Identity Crisis”, you’ll see that when it comes to youth ministry, I am all in. While that’s a great mindset to have, I’ve realized that if I don’t take time to step back and take care of myself, I am absolutely no good in my position. My leadership is almost ineffective because I’m tired, overworked, and neglecting my spiritual walk.
While I’d love to tell you that I’ve discovered the secret to avoiding burnout and how to bounce back after it, I can’t. However, I can share with you a few things that have been helping me work my way back to being my best.
Time With God.
This seems like a no-brainer, but I believe it’s often something that’s put to the side when it comes to leading a ministry. As ministers and leaders, we’re spending tons of time sharing the Word of God with others, praying for others, preparing to teach others, and so much more work that is for others. While this is simply apart of our jobs, we have to make sure that we are carving out time to simply be with God ourselves—not just prepare a lesson about Him. The moment I realized I was overworked, I knew that I needed to ensure that I was filling myself up with God, His Word, and prayer.
2. Take a Break.
If taking a break is such an obvious thing to do, why do some of us fail to do it? For me personally, when I take a break, I feel lazy. I keep telling myself, “You can add one more thing to that to-do list.” I push myself until I have absolutely nothing left. I’m not going to lie and tell you that I’ve fixed this, but I definitely am working on taking time to step away from my tasks for awhile and just rest. Rest in God.
Rest away from my phone.
Rest away from my to-do list.
When I do this, I do feel much better, and it give me the opportunity to place whatever it is that’s causing me to overwork myself into God’s hands.
3. Talk it Out.
When I finally realized that I wasn’t in a healthy place as a leader, I began to talk about it. To God, my family, and trusted friends. I was honest about where I was, and just the mere act of letting it all out was so helpful. I found myself strengthened, encouraged, and pointed in the direction of the next steps I needed to take to recover. This is something I want to keep doing—surrounding myself with individuals that allow me to be open and that will help me get back on the path to being the best leader I can be.
Ministry friends, the task we have before us is not an easy one. We have to be very careful that we don’t work so hard that we lose sight of what God has called us to do, and that we don’t work so much that we begin to despise our calling. I pray that God would walk with all of us as we lead, and that we wouldn’t ever hesitate to take some time to slow down and be filled up with Him.
Please. Don’t burn out.
“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’” -Psalm 46:10 (NIV)
“But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” -Hebrews 10:39 (NIV)
“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” -Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)