20 Lessons from a Ministry Burnout

Counsel on doing ministry without burning out.

We are Christians first and ministers second, therefore growth in grace is more important than ministry.
Burnout may be the consequence of resting in our own efforts rather than in Christ’s blessing on our efforts.
Ministers have an influential role in modeling healthy life-work patterns.

 

I’ve got to know Dave Jenkins over recent years through his various online ministries and podcasts (Servants of GraceEquipping you in Grace, etc). He recently published articles about his own experience of ministry burnout:

Part 1: My Story of Ministry Burnout: Idolatry, Unbelief, and the Gospel

Part 2: Resting in and Being Renewed by Christ

Part 3: Accountability, Friendship, and the Gospel

Part 4: Care for One Another in a Manner Worthy of the Gospel

  1. Burnout can come from doing too many good things.
  2. Burnout often results from an inability to say “No.”
  3. Some of the most common signs of burnout are anxiety and depression.
  4. Overworking is counter-productive because in the long run it leads to less work being done.
  5. A godly wife is the best source of accountability.
  6. Draw up your schedule with your wife.
  7. If overworking is your default, you will always be vulnerable to burnout and therefore have to take active life-long measures to combat it.
  8. We are Christians first and ministers second, therefore growth in grace is more important than ministry.
  9. Burnout may be the consequence of resting in our own efforts rather than in Christ’s blessing on our efforts.
  10. Ministers have an influential role in modeling healthy life-work patterns.
  11. Anxiety and stress produce serious physical problems like ulcers, high blood pressure, heart attacks, etc.
  12. Conversely, inner peace is curative for the whole person—body, mind, and soul.
  13. Prioritize spending quiet time thinking about the Gospel, meditating on Scripture, and praying.
  14. Worship gives a new perspective and helps us to prioritize the most important things.
  15. Be fully present with your wife (translation – get rid of the phone!)
  16. Do a few things well and the big things first.
  17. Turn of the laptop at 5pm each day to force yourself to have finished your work by then.
  18. Gospel-centered friendships are vital for both encouragement and accountability.
  19. You are not alone. There are lots of people in your situation.
  20. You need the community of the local church – be open and honest with your elders and fellow-members.

David Murray is Professor of Old Testament & Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary. This article appeared on his blog, Head Heart Hand, and is used with permission.