What to do if you are Experiencing Burnout in Ministry [EP:080]

What do you do if you are burned out in ministry? If ministry has wounded you, if you’re running on empty, if you are flat-out spent...what happens now? Do you quit? Do you just suck it up buttercup? What’s next? What are your options?

We rarely talk about this.

We seldom have honest and open conversations about what can happen to you in ministry if you aren’t careful, let alone, what to do if you are falling off the edge of the cliff. I’m not sure why burnout and fatigue are taboo subjects and virtually ignored.

The fact is, we’re human. We have our limits. God made us that way. We don’t have to be afraid of our limitations.  We don’t have to fear our need to stop, and yet we keep going. We don’t want to show anything that could be seen as weakness. We keep pushing, we keep producing, we keep doing, we keep responding.


How do you find time to rest and heal while still showing up at getting things done?

A woman in full time ministry recently asked this question and it is such a good one! How do you find the time to do the things you need to do, to back away from the edge of the cliff, while still leading and fulfilling your role?

The answer really is dependent on whether you are getting close to the edge of the cliff or you’ve already fallen off. 

Falling off the cliff

When you are in free-fall drastic measures need to be taken. It is a very serious situation. Some people need to take an extended leave of absence. You may also need counseling, help from a spiritual director or pastoral care.

Try to take 2-3 weeks off. No emails, no texts, no phone calls, no social media. You are completely stopping any and all responsibilities.  I know it’s scary. But remember, you’re human. And you are being WISE and using good judgement by taking action!


On the Edge

  • Establish regular days off...weekly, and vacation. Stop the same day each week, or take a look at what’s ahead each quarter and make sure days are set aside. There is no right or wrong formula to follow. But, you have to stop. It's how you will be able to continue to do what you love for the long haul. It’s hard. It cuts to the core of whether or not we trust God to care for people and situations in our absence. But it is necessary to have days when you know you are not responsible and it helps reinforce the truth that God is really the one in control.
  • Let go of a few things.
  • Find a mentor.


You’re walking toward the edge

  • Pause before responding and count the cost.
  • Say no to more things.
  • Don't let someone else’s urgency become your emergency. You can get pulled by the demands of other people and if we are not careful, it will take up all of our energy. Need help? I have a guide with 5 things you can do in order to figure out how to respond when you are approached about issues/problems. It helps create a rhythm of response. You can download it HERE.

These are just a few suggestions. I don’t know specifically what you need to do in your situation, but I do know this...you’ve got to do something. If you want something to change, you have to make changes. You can’t keep going and hope that somehow, maybe you just won’t fall off the cliff. It’s not worth it. That approach will hurt your and your ministry. 


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