Battling Burnout

A few years ago I trained a large group of church leaders in Nevada. I took them through several hours of training, and at one of our breaks, a lady named Ruth introduced herself to me. She explained that she had come for the day of training, seeking to find new motivation and encouragement to get back into a teaching role in her church after experiencing burnout. She’d left the role of teacher, and wanted to battle her burnout so she could “get back in the saddle”. With her permission, the group of attendees and I prayed for her and committed her and her ministry to the Lord.

How often is Ruth’s situation repeated in your church? Or is her story your story? Are you on the verge of leaving your important role as a group leader? Recovery from burnout is often slow and can leave people feeling sad, depressed, angry, tired, or unappreciated. Teaching is no longer energizing like it once was.

Battling Burnout

To fight burnout, consider doing one or more of the following:

1. Take a sabbatical from your teaching role. Years ago I served a church that granted sabbaticals after a certain number of years of service. The break from my daily routine, plus time to study, read, and relax, was key to my re-energizing. The break didn’t make me want to leave my role, but restored passion to continue a job I loved. It’s a good practice for Sunday School leaders to take a sabbatical and slip back into an adult group where they can be fed spiritually for a time.

2. If you are experiencing burnout, talk to God about it. He already knows how you’re feeling. He’s your Heavenly Father, so run to Him and ask for His help. Ask Him to restore the joy and passion you first felt when you became a leader in your church.

3. Seek godly counsel from others. Approach your pastor or other staff leader and let them know how you’re feeling. Chances are they’ve been there, too, and will totally understand what you’re going through.

4. Simplify your life. Part of burning out is doing too much, so ask yourself if you’ve said “yes” to too many things, even good things. Perhaps you’ve taken on too many roles at church because others wouldn’t, or maybe you’ve overcommitted in other areas of your life. Give up some of them and keep only one or two on which you can focus your attention.

5. Realize you are not alone…and you are not a failure. Jeremiah the prophet followed God’s plan for his ministry, preached messages God gave him, yet he battled burnout while he was at the center of God’s will. Burnout doesn’t make you a failure…it just affirms that you are human.

I’m continuing to pray for my new friend Ruth from Nevada, and I hope to hear from her one day; I’d love to know that she’s battled burnout and won with the Lord’s help. If you are the one facing burnout, let go and let God help you. Cut back. Talk with your pastor. Seek God. Rest in Him as you await a time of refreshing.

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