Are You Burning Out?
Take the Quiz and Find Out!
Doing God’s work is very important, but you can’t do God’s work effectively if you are burned out. Check yourself to see how you are doing.
Look back over the last six months. Have you been noticing changes in yourself relative to the world around you? Think of the office…family…social situations. Allow about 30 seconds for each answer, and then assign a number from 1 (for no change to little change) to 5 (for significant change) to designate the degree of change you perceive.
- Do you tire more easily? Do you feel fatigued rather than energetic?
- Are you annoyed by people telling you that you don’t look so good lately?
- Are you working harder and harder to accomplish less and less?
- Are you increasingly cynical and disenchanted?
- Are you often invaded by a sadness that you cannot explain?
- Are you increasingly irritable? More short-tempered? More disappointed in the people around you?
- Are you seeing close friends and family members less frequently?
- Are you too busy to do routine things like make phone calls, read reports or send out your Christmas cards?
- Are you suffering from physical complaints (aches, pains, headaches, lingering cold)?
- Do you feel disoriented when the activity of the day comes to a halt?
- Is joy elusive?
- Are you unable to laugh at a joke about yourself?
- Does lovemaking seem like it’s more trouble than it’s worth?
- Do you have very little to say to people?
Very roughly now, place yourself on the burnout scale.
0-25 You’re doing fine
26-35 You need to be careful – there are some red flags
36-50 You are a candidate for burnout
51-60 You are burning out
65 + You should immediately book your next counseling appointment
Keep in mind that this is merely an approximation of where you are, and may be useful as a guide to a more satisfying life. Don’t let a high number alarm you, but pay attention to it. Burnout is reversible, no matter how advanced you are. The higher number indicates that the sooner you start being kind to yourself, the better you will feel. Overcommitment + Fatigue = Bad News.
From Burnout: The High Cost of High Achievement, by Herbert J. Freudenberger, Ph.D., Doubleday.
How to Avoid Burnout
Check for Balance in All Parts of Your Life
The first step in avoiding burnout is to create balance in your life, so what does that look like? One of the challenges of ministry is creating and maintaining balance between your work and home life. Faith, family and friends can help you evaluate the balance YOU create. Make changes where needed – here are some time-tested suggestions.
Webster defines spiritual as not material; unworldly, pertaining to sacred things.
- Have a scriptural foundation for your life. Do some soul searching to determine how God is really using your gifts and talents to make the world a better place. Matthew 22:37-40. Love God with all your heart, soul and mind.
- Involvement in a regular devotional (and not the one that YOU LEAD) and Bible study group. Find a group of friends, total strangers, one at the Bible college in town or online, but get involved in a group where YOU are the participant, learning alongside other people.
- Pray. Sounds like a strange thing to tell ministers and pastors, but pray. Matthew 14:13-23. Jesus feeds the 5000. Ever notice that even when Jesus is performing miracles, he prays. 1Thessalonians 5:12-22. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing and in all things, give thanks to God.
- Find an accountability group for your spiritual journey. Sure it can include your spouse, but be sure it’s one that meets on a regular basis to dive into the Word, discuss life, and challenge you to grow. A group of other adults where you can sharpen WHO you are in a safe place.
- Family time. We can’t neglect our families in order to save someone else’s family. The old youth ministry joke is that you do a great job raising everyone else’s kids while ignoring your own family. Don’t be that person.
- Single? Find a group of other singles and spend time with them regularly. Don’t hang out with your youth. Maintain the adult-youth relationship. If you are hanging out with your youth on Saturday night more than your friends, you are setting yourself up in a dangerous situation.
- Peer fellowship. This means people your own age and not the youth. We need accountability to people our own age. We need to share similar life experiences, joys, struggles, and so forth.
- Get involved with a support group (e.g., Thursday night group, baseball tickets, soccer team, etc.)
- Friends not involved in the church – other ministers, friends outside the church world, etc. It helps you stay sane, maintain perspective and offers support during challenging times.
- Find a hobby totally unrelated to your ministry that you like and do it. Mountain bike, walk the dog, garden, read, swim, work on your hunting and fishing skills – you get the idea.
- Eat right, exercise, yada, yada, yada. I’m not a doctor, but the food that you put in your body fuels the energy that you have. As you age, this only gets amplified, so living off the dollar menu at fast food places near your house is only fun when you are 18.
- Find someone to exercise with on a regular basis. Park farther away and walk. Walk faster to and from places. Take the stairs. Walk the dog. Buy a bad $5 aerobics video because when you stop working out, you won’t feel bad for only spending $5! 🙂
- Don’t let work commitments regularly “steal” your workout time. Put it on the schedule and protect it.
What areas can you change to avoid the burnout bug? What has been a special highlight for you in ministry in the past 3 months? What are you looking forward to seeing God do in the next 3 months? Where do you see your personal and family relationships in 3 months? The sections below provide some suggestions for your consideration.
Read John 2:1-10. Turning water into wine. God expects and accepts our best.
- Your marriage is a team ministry. The way that you and your spouse interact speaks volumes to the people around you.
- Partial involvement. They only hired you, so set some clear expectations with your spouse on what he/she will be involved in and expected to do. If your expectation is that your spouse rescues you as a driver for the overnight lock-in on a Sunday night and he/she teaches 4th graders on Monday morning that could be bad! 😯
- Encourage your spouse to be involved in another ministry like MOPS, PTA, TSTA, Junior League, fraternity or sorority organizations, or similar groups.
- Don’t let the romance die in your relationship. MAKE time to have a date night weekly. Hire someone to watch the kids and go somewhere together. Maybe you leave your phone at home for the evening?
- Business meeting for things like paying bills, schedule for the week, car repairs, insurance stuff and other household things that come up. Um, just a quick note, this is NOT combined with DATE NIGHT.
- Communicate the after 10, before 8 AM rule to everyone in your congregation, your friends, and family. When someone calls our house during the “off-peak” hours, they should have an emergency. Leave your cell phone on the island in the kitchen away from your bedroom.
- NOT IN BED rule. Bed is for sleeping and romantic time with your spouse only. If you must argue with your spouse, get out of bed to do it. Also, no business in your bedroom. Leave the work stuff in the workroom, and keep your bedroom a haven for sleep and relaxation. You are still working on that ROMANCE thing, right?
- Don’t expect too much from your spouse, and never-ever use your spouse as the “last resort” for an event.
- Be careful not to call from events and say that it is the best thing on earth. Your spouse may interpret that to include your wedding or first born child.
- Spend less than you make. A youth minister once said, “Being poor is not about what you make, but about what we have left over at the end of the month.”
- Budgets are good. Rod teaches Financial Peace and for $100 you can take the class as many times as it takes to get out of Debt.
- Savings account, retirement plan, health and life insurance.
- Don’t be afraid to talk with church officials about your finances. They all know what you make anyway, so invite them to help you manage your finances. There are professional people (accountants, lawyers, etc.) in your church that would be willing to help you and many times for FREE. Take advantage of this “ministry perk.”
Hope this helps in your ministry and keeping BALANCE in your life.
Grace, peace and travel blessings,
Featured image by Matthew Wiebe via unsplash.com.
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