Zeal Without Burnout
by Christopher Ash
– Burn out is a terrible price to pay for a Cristian minister.
– 1/3 of pastors find themselves burnt out within five years of starting ministry. It is estimated that hundreds of pastors across-the-board burn out and leave ministry every year.
– It is those who think they are safest that are in most danger. I Cor 10:12
– It may sound heroic or even romantic to say we have burnt out while ministering for the Lord, but other people are affected and taken down when someone is burned out.
– There is a difference between self-sacrifice and burn out.
– We are made from nothing more than dust Psalms 103:14. We are not like God, we need rest, food, medicine and sabbaths.
1. We need sleep but God does not Psalms 121:3–4. Psalms 127:2 says that it is God who gives sleep. Don’t talk about certain things or work on them before you go to bed, get rest.
2. We need a Sabbath, God does not. God is always working, but we cannot work nonstop. Because we serve in ministry, we have to be flexible to times our people are free. They may work during the day and need counseling or discipleship at night. This makes our job hours different from anyone else. Even if you have a day off, you need to take care of your body. There is only one Savior of the world, and that is not you or me.
3. We need friends and God does not. We need not picture God as lonely and unfulfilled without us, but God does not need us… we need Him. God said that it was not good for man to be alone (Gen. 2:18). We are made to be social creatures, not live by ourselves. David had Jonathan, a dear friend who loved him; and we need friendships as well. Many of us need to try harder at being a good friend. A married couple should sustain intimacy.
4. We need inward renewal, God does not. Just as we need food and rest for our bodies to be renewed and continue on, so we need inward renewal from the Holy Spirit. 2 Corinthians 4:16 The Lord told them to go apart with Him and get some rest (Mark 6:31). We need to get away and rest as well, for the inward renewal. We should be knowledgeable about what things help us, such as bike riding or some hobby, but we should also know that those things without the Holy Spirit cannot fully renew us. We often pride ourselves in how busy we are, comparing ourselves and thinking we’re more important than the other guy for how many hours we work. But neglecting rest, sabbath, friendships, and inward renewal is a big mistake and not something to be proud of.
– The world calls overworking a workaholic but in ministry it could be called “zealaholic,”… and we’re inwardly starving ourselves and will soon burn out. – Beware of wanting to be a celebrity and/or placing yourself on a pedestal.
– Learn the Lord’s definition of success, not the world’s. It’s not in numbers but in faithfully serving and obeying Christ.
– Seek counsel, have friends, delegate work and don’t neglect your spiritual and physical health.
– Psalm 90:19 – Gospel ministry is ministering in a messed up world, and yet there is grace.
– Things that don’t matter as much can be measured (such as church budgets, buildings and numbers) but things that really matter (such as changed hearts) cannot be measured.
– Learn to rejoice in grace, not gifts. Luke 10:17-20.
– Joy is a beautiful thing. We should enjoy ourselves, but joy must be rooted in something that doesn’t change. Put your joy in the fact that your name is written in heaven, not just in things God has let you see or do.
– We pride ourselves in gifts we have, such as speaking, growing ministries, contacts and so much more. But we must remember that gifts without grace is an accurate definition of the devil himself.
– Keep grace as the main thing. Without grace we can be like Judas who knew everything yet went to hell. With grace we can be like Lazarus who had nothing materially yet went to heaven.
– We should not be afraid of burnout but we should take care of ourselves.
– Don’t be too proud to seek help.
– Do a self-check. Pause and ask yourself if you’re giving yourself enough time for sleep, rest, to have godly friendships, to inwardly renew yourself and are you rejoicing in God’s grace.
– Pressure in our lives form us and help us, but these pressures are meant to be short bursts, not a lifestyle. The system shuts down when we try to live this way and could be called discouragement, breakdown or burnout.
– Learn to recognize the signs of burnout sleeplessness, low mood, exhaustion, nervousness, irritability, etc. The same can happen to anyone at times, but if it goes on for long periods of time, it is signs that you’re close to burn out.
– Usually other people notice things about us before we noticed them ourselves. We should give permission to people that we trust to let us know when they see signs of burnout in us.
– There are times that we can change up things and help ourselves (switch up way we are reading the Bible, activity we do, etc.) and there are other times that we might need to get help from a friend or someone else.
– Burnout is not the worst thing that could happen to you, in fact sometimes it is something that God uses to bring us to our knees or changes, but we can still learn to notice signs and avoid burnout as much as possible.