It’s been about five years since it happened and the thing is…I didn’t see it coming. I guess I should have, everyone around me could see it happening…but man, I sure didn’t.
I could hear God but I wasn’t listening. To be honest, I really didn’t like what He was saying. I can remember the words like it was yesterday, “I haven’t called you to this…”
I’ll never forget the day I finally listened though, and began to understand the reality of what was happening.
I was burnt out and even worse…I had placed my family on the altar of ministry and was in the process of sacrificing. Twelve hour work days, desperately seeking approval, finding my identity and self-worth in my work…all led to me burning out.
I’m going to make a blind bet and say there are a lot, if not everyone reading this, that have gone through a similar type of experience.
Burnout is no joke. It can end a career, it can ruin a family but moreover, it can damage our relationship with God. At the end of the day, God has never called us to burnout but the fact is it’s rampant in the church world.
As small group point peeps and pastors, we not only have to protect ourselves but even more those we lead from burnout. Here are a few key factors I learned on how to protect yourself and others.
Rhythms over balance…
Let’s face it, balance is a lie…
I’ve spent soo much of my life trying to figure out how to balance the crazy teeter-totter of work, family and rest only to find myself burnt out and never achieving balance. It’s when I started to look at the rhythms of my life and schedule that I actually started to find time for rest and for my family.
No is a good word…
I am a people pleaser, a tad bit of a workaholic and to be honest…I don’t like having to say no to things especially when they are opportunities to shine. Here’s the sad reality, these things have become the unsaid marks of a successful person in ministry. The people who really suffer in all this are the people we serve and even more our family.
Saying no is a good thing. When you become willing to say no to a few good opportunities it opens the door for even greater opportunities in life.
This is the most important thing I learned post burnout. The health of my soul directly affects every aspect of my life.
I’ve heard it said, “You can’t give away what you don’t have…but you do give away what you do have.”
The question you have to ask yourself as leader on a daily basis is, “What am I giving away to those I lead?” I wish I could say I’ve always given the people I lead my very best. The reality is I haven’t, and I’ve seen the damage this can do.
Take care of your soul. Make sure you are taking time to rest and replenish your strength. Psalm 42:1 gives us a beautiful example of this:
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.”
This may be the hardest step in all of this because it requires humility. It requires applying all the previous steps into one action…admitting you need help.
I love this statement, “If you are the person who got yourself into this mess, how do you think you can get yourself out of it?” The fact is you can’t, you need help and the longer you wait the longer you suffer.
As small group point peeps and pastors, not only do we need to protect ourselves from burnout we also need to protect those we lead from it as well.
Burnout is a choice and a choice none of us need to make!
For more on this topic, listen to our podcast “Leading from a Healthy Soul: How to Avoid Ministry Burnout”