Well here we are early March and I am really feeling the pressure of all we are going to be doing. I finally admitted I bit off more than I can chew and I have a hero complex.
So what do you do when you experience burnout creeping in? I've read enough and been in ministry long enough to know and feel that word creeping in my mind. This isn't the first time down this road for me, and if left unchecked for long enough, burnout and feeling overwhelmed makes people leave ministry. At some point, the pay isn't good enough for the stress level.
If you feel burnout coming on as I do, here are a few things you can do to help get through a busy season and get some replenishment.First, don't retreat to laziness.
Some of us when we get burned out from working too hard, we want to hide under a rock. We shut out the world and do nothing. In the long run, this only makes us more stressed. In a couple days, when we come out from underneath the blankets in our bedrooms, the work still will be there. Proverbs 12:24
says: "Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave." When I get burned out, I have a tendency to lose desire to do anything and just become lazy. Definitely take a few days off to recoup whenever you can, but be wary of settling in a place of doing nothing while you are at work.Second, talk with someone about this; do not hide your stress.
You are not God; you cannot do it all; don't pretend you can do it all. Show people that you are human. They will appreciate and relate to you more. During the past few weeks, as I have begun to feel the burnout, I sat down with my pastor, then an elder and then my wife. I admitted that I bit off more than I could chew. With each person, they helped walk me through some things I could do to improve my situation—my wife especially. We sat down, opened our calendar and put some things in for work, as well as for replenishment. Just getting these things written helped me think, "OK, I can do this," which has helped immensely.Third, disappoint some people.
Take a look at some of the things on your schedule, particularly the ones that are most draining for you. Think about what you can step away from even temporarily so you can catch up. Is there something on your calendar that you are only doing to impress your supervisors? Cancel a meeting for a month. If you have volunteers they will appreciate the break. The ministry will not fall apart if you miss one meeting. Andy Stanley says, "When you say yes to something, you are always saying no to something else." If you are saying yes to a lot of activities that are good but not great, perhaps you are saying no to your own balance or your family. Go to the person you are going to let down, and own your needs by saying, "I'm sorry to disappoint you but I am really feeling as if I'm getting burned out, and I don't want to be in that place. As a person in ministry, you need to become mature enough that you can disappoint a few people. This is a part of the process of learning that it's not all about yourself, but about God. Everyone is going to have his or her own opinions of what you need to be doing. Saying no to good things is critical for maintaining balance.