How to Beat Burnout in Ministry

Burnout in Ministry

IT’S POSSIBLE TO BEAT BURNOUT IN MINISTRY

It hit me like a ton of bricks. One morning in early summer, my phone’s alarm vibrated on my nightstand. I hit snooze three times before begrudgingly getting out of bed. I was waking up after a solid seven hours of rest, but I was more tired than if I had just skipped sleep altogether. My head was pounding. My eyes were covered in red webs. Even my joints felt sleepy. I didn’t have mono or a cold. It was plagued with something much harder to treat; I was burned out.

Have you ever felt like you were running on empty? I’m sure some of you have. Burnout in ministry is a big problem. Maybe you feel lonely in a crowded room, experience emotional numbness when you want to feel something, or even face a vague sense of dread wherever you go. This could be burnout. The dangerous thing is that burnout leads you to withdraw from those who care about you.

Isolation can quickly become a dangerous situation. It hurts people. It hurts you. I don’t want you to end up there, so it’s crucial that we identify burnout then defeat burnout.

IDENTIFYING BURNOUT IN MINISTRY

First, how do we identify it? You don’t burn out in an instant, rather it creeps in steadily. Burnout works a lot more like a  crockpot than a campfire. It evolves slowly and gradually. According to the Mayo Clinic, there are clear warning signs that you’re burning out.


When evaluating burnout in ministry, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have a hard time getting started at work?
  • Have you become irritable or impatient with your loved ones or coworkers?
  • Do you find it harder to concentrate?
  • You feel detached from your friends, family, or colleagues.
  • Have you lost joy and fulfillment over things that used to do so?
  • Have you become less proud of your accomplishments?
  • Do you struggle to relax?
  • Have you become overly critical of both others and yourself?
  • Are you using food, drugs or alcohol to mask or relieve emotions?
  • Have your sleep habits changed?

If you answered yes to three or more of these, then you may be on the road to burnout. If you’re on that route, then you need to redirect.

Beating Burnout in Ministry: Personal Assessment
Here are three intentional practices to help you beat burnout.

Rest & Rejuvenation: Take care of yourself. 

You’re not a machine, you don’t need to constantly perform and achieve. If you want to accomplish big things, it starts with taking care of yourself in small ways. Intentionally build routines that fuel you. Spend time in God’s Word daily. Get away from the screen. Get plenty of sleep. Go outside often. Eat a healthy diet. When you take good care of yourself, you’ll be able to take better care of people. 


Respect Boundaries: Take care of your time.

Ministry is notorious for boundary issues. You can’t do everything for everyone at all times. No one can. So this advice is simple, say no more often. A polite “no” to certain things is a powerful “yes” to the most important things. This is why God set up the expectation of the Sabbath, we can do more when we build boundaries around our time. 


Reach Out for Support: Take care of your heart.

Burnout is often triggered by to-do-list overload. When you try to carry too much, you risk dropping it all. Don’t try to do ministry alone! Ask for support from your friends and colleges. Seek out professional help when necessary. Use resources that give you time to focus on what matters most.