This week’s blog is from “Flourish”, a new resource that Reconciled World launched over the summer. “Flourish” is a blog that aims to encourage, challenge, resource and support you in your work and personal life. We believe that thriving and fruitful leaders are the product of wholistically healthy lifestyles. We would love for you to read along with us or share this resource with others who may find it helpful. You can subscribe to Flourish, and read past blogs here.
Feeling Tired and Worn Out? Identifying and avoiding burnout
What is your greatest challenge in ministry?
I am sure you could find many ways to answer this question, but one common answer is: exhaustion.
The more I connect with pastors, leaders and ministry workers the more I am reminded that you are tired.. Your resources (physical, social, spiritual and emotional) are being stretched to the limit and you are on the edge of burnout. If this is you… you are not alone… But your life doesn’t have to be this way.
In ministry this exhaustion can be common because the work is never finished. There are always more needy people to serve, more souls to save, more brokenness to address, and more prayers to offer. So what do you do if you are exhausted?
Here are a couple thoughts that I hope will help you. (Read more at churchleaders.com) 
- Pay attention to yourself. In 1 Timothy 4:16 Paul urges Timothy to “watch his life and doctrine closely.” As leaders we should follow Paul’s command to pay attention to ourselves. Self-examination is good and acknowledging exhaustion and burnout is the first step to righting yourself and getting healthy.
- Learn to trust God. Remember, your ministry is not yours—it is God’s! Therefore, stop exhausting yourself thinking that success is dependent on you. Yes, God has chosen to use you but the Kingdom does not rely on you. Trust that God will honor a healthy life balance and leave the rest to Him.
- Recognize the need to balance your life and pace yourself. Ministry is not a sprint; it is a marathon. Take a long term perspective and realize that often slowing down will make you more effective in the long-term. Create margins and give yourself breaks. Permit yourself to rest!
- Pay careful attention to your diet, exercise, and sleep patterns. Don’t underestimate the importance of staying physically healthy. God has provided all kinds of wonderful food for you to enjoy! It’s important to eat in healthy moderation and establish an exercise plan.
- Utilize others. Learning to delegate is important. Ministry is not meant to be done alone. Follow the lead of Moses in Exodus 18—it’s OK to say no and to assign others with tasks.
- Unload. Do you have a close friend who is a loyal and good listener? If not, pray for one. Seek one out and cultivate a deep relationship with them, sharing your successes, challenges, and struggles.
- Prioritize spending time with God. In Mark 1:35, Jesus gives us one of the keys to avoiding overload, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.” It is important to listen to God for direction in your life. Remember your identity does not come from the tasks you accomplish but from your relationship with Jesus.
- Get help if you need it. There is no shame in wanting to be wholistically healthy. One of the best things you can do for your ministry, yourself, and your family may be to visit with a trusted counselor who can provide insight and help you along the way.
If you are feeling overloaded and exhausted, near the point of burnout, feel free to share that with me. I would love to pray and support you along the way. If you are interested I have also copied a self-assessment exercise at the bottom.
Burnout is not God’s design
Reflect on Matthew 11:28-30
Make it a priority this week to self-assess your personal health. If there are areas that need to be re-balanced, commit to making changes and asking others for help.
Take the following test to see if you are headed for burnout. Choose the most appropriate answer for each of the following ten statements.
How often do you…
- almost always b. often c. seldom d. almost never
___ 1. Find yourself with insufficient time to do things you really enjoy?
___ 2. Wish you had more support/assistance?
___ 3. Lack insufficient time to complete your work most effectively?
___ 4. Have difficulty falling asleep because you had too much on your mind?
___ 5. Feel people simply expect too much from you?
___ 6. Feel overwhelmed?
___ 7. Find yourself becoming forgetful or indecisive because you have too much on your mind?
___ 8. Consider yourself to be in high-pressure situation?
___ 9. Feel you have too much responsibility for one person?
___10. Feel exhausted at the end of the day?
Calculate your total score as follows:
a = 4 points; (b) = 3 points; (c)= 2 points; (d)= 1 point
Your total number of points on this exercise will help you assess how stressed you are by overload. A total of 25-40 points indicates a high stress level, one that could be psychologically and physiologically debilitating…thus leading to burnout. http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-how-to/150219-ten-rules-to-avoid-ministry-burnout.html