It’s a rare leader who hasn’t been stalked by burnout. By nature we see vast possibilities, our hearts burst with compassion, and we want things done yesterday. At times, we find ourselves dwindling in energy and daydreaming about couch potato life. But God designed us to “shine like stars in the world,” not fade like shooting stars. Finding our source in Him is the key to beating burnout.
Tell-Tale Signs of Burnout
Seventeen years into my own ministry leadership, I was having a hard time staving off exhaustion. Weekends weren’t doing the trick and five-day workweeks felt like ten.
A couple of wise leaders urged me to take time to rest with God during the workday. What seemed like a preposterous idea at the time has proven to be spot on. It has changed our ministry culture and revolutionized us in the process.
Now, when burnout bites at my ankles, a quick assessment usually reveals I’m:
- Short-cutting private time with God.
- Racing through the workday apart from God.
- Forgetting to work at God’s pace.
When you become weary in well-doing, choose these proven practices for honoring God and being replenished by Him.
- Keep the Home Fires Burning. God’s not docking points if you miss your time with Him, but you don’t want it to become a norm. You also don’t want it to become a stale routine. If you’ve never journaled your prayers, give it a try. If you’ve always journaled, give it a rest and speak with God quietly in your mind. If you tend to read a chapter of the Bible a day, try going deeper into one or two verses. If it’s been a while since you’ve memorized Scripture, write out a helpful verse and commit it to heart. Pull up a YouTube and worship. Or stand and sing. Or take a walk and take in the wonders of God’s handiwork. Follow God’s lead and He’ll brighten your heart and mind with His love and wisdom.
- Intentionally Seek God at Work. Look for ways to spend time with God during the workday – on your own and with others. Open meetings with conversational prayer and worship. Stop mid-day to revisit the passage of Scripture you read at home that morning. Listen to a worship song between projects. This may go against the grain of your productivity, but God is your true source of accomplishment. You can do nothing apart from Him and everything through Him. (John 15:5, Philippians 4:13)
- Work at God’s pace. We can actually experience rest when we’re working at God’s pace. Think about it – God didn’t work nonstop through the creation account. He both worked and appreciated His work. Each day He created amazing aspects of the earth, and each day He declared them good. In my mind’s eye, I don’t picture God giving a sober nod to the work He’d done. I picture Him scooping up a handful of lilies, grabbing a cluster of grapes, and twirling a koala bear overhead. He took the time to enjoy His work. By doing so, He was actually giving glory to Himself. The same is true for us. As we work and rest and enjoy the day with God – we are giving Him glory.
We were created to honor God – not just at home and on Sundays, but all throughout our work day. When we honor God, He replenishes us. So instead of burning out, we can shine like stars. (Philippians 2:15)
As leaders, we tend to do a lot of burning – midnight oil, candles at both ends, and sometimes our own energy reserves. These aren’t innately wrong unless they become habitual. The quintessential habit of our leadership life should be fostering a vibrant relationship with God. As we stoke the flames of our relationship with God, He keeps us on fire and supplies the fuel for our work.
How have you learned to ward off burnout as a leader? Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comment Section below.