Practical Ministry Lesson #6

Probably everyone in the Lord’s work has come to the place of being tired and even questioned their reason for ministering where they are ministering.  Although many, if not all, have confronted this hard time in the ministry, sadly some have went to the extreme of even quitting the ministry or leaving their specific location of service. Some have coined this term as “burnout“.  Although this is not a Biblical term, I think it is an accurate term for what happens when someone gets so tired he leaves his area of service.  In this “Practical Ministry Lesson“, I would like to discuss this topic of “burnout“.

According to the dictionary, one of the meanings of burnout is: “physical or mental collapse caused by overwork or stress.”

Burnout is common problem in ministerial work and we can even see it in the Bible: John Mark left the missionary journey early for some reason (Acts 13:13) and Elijah wanted to die (I Kings 19:4).  Not only was it a problem in Biblical times, but it is even common today. Dealing with people problems, preparing messages, receiving criticism, being stressed and just being plain tired, are just a few of the reasons church leaders and workers get burned out. My goal in this “Practical Ministry Lesson” is to humbly share a few ideas that I think can help us avoid burning out in the ministry.

1. Time to Plan and Prioritize
Every person has different priorities in his/her life, but it is fundamental to constantly make sure that they stay in the order they are supposed to be in.
A great tool to avoid burnout is to administer well your time so that your time does not begin to control your life.  A pastor or church leader with a wife and children can not neglect his wife and children because of the ministry, but as well he should not neglect the ministry because of his wife and children.  If a calendar or day book is used to plan times for family, time for studying, time for visiting, time for witnessing and so on, many hard times can be avoided.

2. Time to Walk and Talk with the Lord
Some of my personal goals are to encourage and equip others, but I know that if I have not spent time with my Savior, I can not help others.  Although it may be too obvious to mention, much of what is called burnout could simply be spiritually malnutrition.
We must not forget that God has told us to cast all our cares upon Him (I Peter 5:7) and that He will renew our strength when we wait upon Him (Isaiah 40:31).  Taking time to walk and talk with our Lord is actually investing our time and keeping us strong, therefore we avoid burnout.

3. Time to Rest and Relax
For some reason many think it is a sin to take time off and relax. For many years I ran and ran without heeding to the Biblical example of Christ to get away for a while (Mark 6:31-32) – look at what the Lord says to His disciples: “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).
I personally believe that every Christian should work for the Lord as hard as possible, but I also believe that every Christian should plan time to rest and relax – to recuperate and charge up in order to continue on strong for the Lord.

Here to Serve,

Jeff Bush

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