What is burnout? - How to prevent it or break free from it

September 17, 2015

Do you ever have a consistently negative attitude toward work or your ministry? Do you wonder if what you do really matters? At one time, you cared about what you did and how you did it. Now it’s really not that important to you. But why? You still believe in your ministry. You love the Lord and want others to know Him. However, you just aren’t motivated or excited about what you specifically do anymore. You could be experiencing burnout.

Many people in various ministries experience not wanting to “work” today. Or, they go through periods of feeling unappreciated. Unless a true career change is needed (and sometimes this is the case – God might be calling you elsewhere), this usually comes and goes briefly, and you get your energy back. Burnout is different in that it stays with you, and you have a really hard time overcoming it. It’s important to get to the root.

Think of your mind/body as a gas tank. You can’t put out what you don’t put in. When we work in ministry, we are givers. We tend to give to others far more than we put into ourselves. God does call us to die to self and serve others. But He also calls us to take care of ourselves, so we can give out to others. No human can run on empty continuously without burning out.

If you are experiencing this, give yourself permission to fuel your own tank.

Ways to Refuel:

  1. Quiet time to reflect/pray/spiritually refuel
    This may look different for you – Scripture, prayer, music, drama, devotionals, writing, walking in nature. Get creative and use this time to bring you closer to God.

  1. Sleep
    Lack of sleep creates negative thinking and grumpy, unmotivated hearts.

  1. Nutrition
    Yeah, I know, comfort food feels better, but good nutrition can give you the fuel you really need! Treats are fine in moderation, but try not to comfort yourself with food. Use good sense when eating and ask yourself: Will this fuel me or deplete me later?

  1. Time with Life Givers
    These are your besties or anyone who brings life to you – a give and take relationship where, most of the time, you walk away feeling joy. Time with a Life Giver? Now that’s refueling!  

  1. Fun!
    Those of us who constantly give have a hard time remembering to refuel with fun outside our work. Our mission is big, so it feels like there is no time for play. Give yourself permission. You will work harder and be more effective if you fill up your fun tank.

If you are already doing these things and you are still experiencing burnout, you may want to chat with someone – a trusted friend, boss, mentor or even one of us kooky therapists. It may be time for a change.

Next step: List two things you can do this week to refuel. Start today. 

–Natalie Chandler, MA, LMHC, LCAC, is the owner of Imagine Hope Counseling Group.

Want to hear more from Natalie on how to refuel and re-engage? Click below to join us for our September webinar, Worship Where You Work!
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Natalie Chandler