Facing Burnout


A couple of weeks ago, I found myself in need of an attitude adjustment, or maybe a pep-talk, but definitely I needed a rally for the soul. There really wasn’t just ONE thing that was bothering me, but rather, a series of things that were simply frustrating me. This isn’t anything unusual, but something I was certainly struggling with.

I have a friend, who is a Pastor of a very large church (like 4 times the size of ours), but he’s got experience in Pastoring a smaller church. As I was expressing some of my feelings and thoughts, he would say this, “You’re riding the burnout train!” I agreed with him, but didn’t really know how to pinpoint what I was thinking/feeling but I knew I didn’t like the state my mind was in. His encouragement was to “get away” to “pray” to “stop,” etc.

So, I was facing a sort of burnout. This really may be the first time I was looking burnout in the face. As I was feeling this, an article from Thom Rainer popped into my feed. He listed 10 ways pastor move from burnout to vision. What a God-send!

I won’t list them all, as I would recommend you visit his website, but I want to reflect on the first three he gave and how it helped me process what I was experiencing. Again, these are his suggestions:

1. Spent more time in prayer and the Word.

I’ve been participating in a Bible reading plan that is quite taxing. It’s an attempt to read 10 chapters a day, and it’s daunting. It’s a lot to take in, and I have found myself sinking as I’m only a few days behind, but a few days racks up to like 40 chapters!! It was adding pressure to my every day, and now I feel that I’m reading the Bible just to “get through” not to be refreshed.

So, I scratched it, and trying to simply remember why I read the Bible – to hear from God.

2. Dreamed again.

Arriving to First Bellville, three words described my life: dreams, visions, and excitement. But over recent weeks, I have been caught up in some of the set-backs or negativity but mostly trivial things and have gotten me off personal and corporate vision. I’ve allowed the business of the church to replace the mission of the church. Big problem right!? No wonder I was feeling burnout!

So, I’ve read over some of my journal entries upon arriving – remembering the reasons why we’re here, why we love this place, and how God has uniquely gifted us to minister here.

3. Stopped comparing.

I hate this about life, but it seems the trap of comparison is something those of us in ministry face. You get word that a friend or acquaintance is moving – typically to a larger church – or they’ve had more baptisms, or attendance, or budget, etc. The list could go on and on, but it’s a trap – a big one. I see this a lot when I run into friend in ministry and they’ll start sharing how much each of those three categories are growing, and it’s just dangerous. It isn’t helpful. It’s the wrong metrics anyway. Jesus was rarely impressed by large crowds and big budgets… or how many campuses they had. He was impressed with faith.

So, any time I’ve feel the urge to compare, I stop, look around, and thank God for what I have, not for what I don’t have. I think I’ve missed out on blessings because I’m worried about getting my goat. (see Luke 15:29).

I would encourage you to read the entire article, as I found it uplifting and encouraging. Another passage that has been a theme during this time has been this: Col 4:17

I have to fulfill what God has given me and not worry what God has not given me.

How do you battle when facing burnout?