Have you ever been done? Not done as is finished completing a project or task, but flat-out D-O-N-E?
You're exhaustedphysically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually drained. There might be a few fumes left in the tank, but that's about it.
If so, you're not alone.
As Pastor Carey Nieuwhof wrote in a post about his burnout experience,
"I could get out of bed every day, and I did. I kept praying and reading my Bible. But my speed decreased to a snail's pace. And hope felt like it had died. My motivation and passion dropped to zero."
Pastor Nieuwhof was able to emerge successfully out of his burnout experience. Pastor Perry Noble has also openly discussed his burnout and how he pulled out of it.
Both pastors went to counseling. Both informed their spouses and church leadership teams. Neither was able to pull out of the situation without help.
Hopefully you aren't to that point or even close. You working to exhaustion, bearing everyone else's burdens, and trying to do it all isn't necessary or beneficial to anyone. It hurts you, your family, and your church. It would be better to leave some things not done than to push ahead and eventually come to a screeching halt.
- You may get physically ill because a tired body leads to a weakened immune system.
- You may not have the joy you once had in ministry.
- You may become depressed.
None of this is necessary. In fact, it truly is preventable.
However, you have to buy into a mindset that may feel selfish.
Here's the deal: You need to take care of yourself and your family first. The church comes afterward.
So how do you get everything done and remain healthy?
Well, you may not be able to get everything doneespecially not by yourself. It's okay if you take a bit longer than you'd initially thought or if you have to eliminate a few things from the church schedule. Some people may get upset, but either they need to help make those things happen or accept that they won't (sounds harsh, but that's the reality of the situation).
As for everything else, here are a few tips to preventing burnout along the way:
Talk with your team about what's on your plate and ask if there's anything they're willing and able to handle for you. This is a great way to develop emerging leaders. Start trusting them with more and more responsibility, as individuals prove capable. Don't just look to your team consider leaders within the congregation who might be willing to volunteer and take on a few responsibilities.
#2 Get counseling
Now, this is way before you're nearing burnout so why get counseling now? Call it preventative medicine. If you'd rather not do counseling at this time, then find a mentor and schedule regular times to meet and talk. You need someone safe to unload on. Everyone else unloads on you church staff, members of the congregation, critics, etc. You need someone who can be that trusted sounding board for you.
#3 Take care of your body
Strive to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Eat healthy foods most of the time. Exercise regularly. Drink plenty of water. These simple steps will help you be better focused, have more energy, and think more clearly.
#4 Nourish your spirit
Spend some time in the Word and in prayer that's not for sermon preparation. Even if it's ten minutes over coffee in the morning, that's a good start. Read books on spiritual growth (yours, not your congregation's) or leadership.
#5 Have fun
Go out on a date with your spouse. Play in the backyard with your kids. Go fishing or golfing. Do something just for the sake of laughing and having a good time.
Ministry is hard work. I doubt you expected it to be easy when you got started, but perhaps you didn't realize the toll it could take on you.
If you're feeling the strain, please get some help. Even if you're not feeling near burnout, go ahead and get started with these five tips to prevent burnout from happening. Your family, staff, and congregation need you at your best. To make that happen, you've got to take care of yourself so you can best serve others. That motivation isn't the least bit selfish.