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5 Causes of Ministry Burnout and How to Avoid It

There is a church not far from my house that is called "Burnout Missionary Baptist Church." Think I'm kidding? Here is a picture.

In case you're wondering why in the world would someone name their church "Burn Out," it's because the community the church is in is called "Burnout."

Here's more info. about why the church and community are called Burnout. The legend behind this Franklin County community says it was named during the Civil War after a group of Union soldiers stopped to camp at a church just outside Red Bay. During the night, a soldier knocked over a lantern and started a fire. Local settlers came together to replace the burned church and decided to call it Burnout Church, a name also adopted by the surrounding community. If you are not careful, you may find yourself visiting BURN OUT. And it's not somewhere you want to be. An extended stay in Burnout will take your personal ministry down. Want to avoid visiting burnout? Then don't get on the road to burnout. Let's talk about 5 things the road to burnout is paved with and how you can avoid it. Getting away from your first calling. Your first calling is to spend time with Jesus. Notice what this verse says.

And He appointed twelve THAT THEY MIGHT BE WITH HIM, and that He might send them to preach. Mark 3:14

Notice that being with Jesus comes first and then going out to do ministry comes second. Our ministry for Jesus must be an overflow of our relationship with Jesus. Slowing down to spend time with Jesus is not always easy, is it? An example would be stopping to get gas. If you're like me, I hate sitting there waiting for the tank to fill up. I would much rather be on the road driving. But if I don't stop and take time to fill up spiritually, I will soon find my tank empty and my ministry will come to a halt. Make spending time with Jesus, being filled with Jesus and growing your relationship with Jesus, a top priority. Time spend with Jesus is never wasted and it's how you will avoid burnout. Trying to do too many things will take you to burnout. You can only keep all those plates spinning for so long until they start dropping. If you want to avoid burnout, you may need to put some eraser marks on your calendar. "Less is more" not only helps you focus on making a few things excellent, but it also helps you avoid burnout. Narrow down what you are doing and be laser-focused. Stress will take you to burnout. Stress is a real thing and it can take you down if you don't learn how to manage it and keep it at a minimum. Start identifying what your major sources of stress are. Write down some ways you can lessen your stress. It may mean delegating. It may mean sharing part of your load with someone else. Find ways to manage your stress.

You were meant to share the ministry, not carry the ministry by yourself.

Trying to be Superman or Superwoman with your stress won't work long-term. Sooner or later, stress will cause the S to fall off your shirt and will leave you stranded in burnout. Not establishing boundaries will take you to burnout. If you want to avoid burnout, you must build boundaries. Boundaries around time with your family. Boundaries around your weekly day(s) off. Boundaries around your vacation time. Boundaries around your time with God. If you don't have clear boundaries, people will fill up your time off with their needs, problems and issues. Remember the movie "What About Bob?" A successful psychotherapist about loses his mind after one of his most dependent patients, an obsessive-compulsive neurotic, tracks him down during his family vacation. This isn't just a movie, it can happen in real life and take you to burnout, if you don't have your boundaries in place. Running a 100 yard ministry dash instead of a steady paced marathon will take you to burnout.

Greatness in ministry is not measured in years, but in decades.

If you are going to go the distance in ministry, then you have to find a pace you can sustain for the long haul. Look at your current pace? Is it a walk? A jog? A run? An all out sprint? The runners who win the marathons are not 100 dash sprinters. They conserve their energy by finding a steady pace they can run for the entire race. This is what enables them to cross the finish line rather than being stopped on the side of the track with exhaustion. Everything I am telling you I have learned the hard way. I visited burnout in my 19th year of ministry and almost didn't return. God's grace and healing brought me back. My prayer is that you will spend time with Jesus, narrow your focus, manage your stress, establish your boundaries and pace yourself. Let's meet at the finish line and be able to say with Paul... I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 2 Timothy 4:7

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