Most of us join a ministry with a genuine heart to serve the Lord and make a difference.
We usually never see burnout or fatigue coming, but it comes…it comes for us all.
Whenever you’re in a place of serving others, you will inevitably find yourself giving more than you have, caring more than you thought you could, and going further than you wanted to go.
Now, this isn’t to scare off those who want to serve in ministry leadership. The blessings outweigh the sacrifices. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). And those of us who have lived in the flow of giving can attest this to be true.
However, we must be wise in leadership and recognize the signs that point to us burning out:
You can’t switch off your brain. If you find yourself constantly thinking about ministry, this may be a sign that you’re heading for burnout. You need to rest. Not just your body but your mind, too. Make sure you have time every day, every week and every month when you are not thinking about your ministry. You need to switch off. You need to think about something else. Ministry is all-consuming; therefore, we must press pause to refresh.
You are overly reactive. Things don’t go your way. This is life. When you find yourself overreacting to negative or disappointing things in your ministry, you may be headed for burnout. The truth is that you’re trying to control the outcomes, which is impossible. You can only do the best you can do, and that is where it stops. Anything else is overreach. When things don’t go your way, pause, give thanks to God and work on what you can work on.
You are disconnected from the vine. This is all too common for many ministers. Ministry becomes work, and we neglect the most important ministry of all: connecting with Jesus Christ. We must deepen our relationship with Jesus to succeed in life and ministry. He said, “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). This means we must be always connected to Him. Your relationship with Jesus is a deepening, beautiful thing, and you must nurture that relationship primarily.
You are going it alone. Ministry is a team sport. If you find yourself without close friends you can talk to about the things in your life, you’ll find it hard to make it through. You need people around you who will listen, encourage, call out and pray. Many leaders have acquaintances in ministry; few have close friends. If you find yourself isolated, you may be headed for burnout. Now is the time to reach out and open up. Have a talk and pray with someone. You’ll be glad you did.
Being a leader is a great privilege and requires that we first lead ourselves well. Learn to pay attention to the signs and make the right adjustments at the right times. With God, you can do this.