Most of us in ministry are feeling the heavy burden of leading our churches in this pandemic. We hear of the possibility of things getting better with the promise of vaccinations for all of us this year. Our science and medical experts are predicting to a more normal life sometime this year. I certainly hope and pray this is true. However, I sense we are living in a time where burnout is more of an issue than any other time in our life.
Here are some warning signs of burnout:
1) Loss of motivation. I’ve found when motivation is lacking so is our energy. It’s easy to work less and become lazy since we are more limited by all the restrictions in this Covid-19 environment. It seems easier to operate with minimal effort. As we have adjusted our schedules for less meetings and less visits, we can easily loss some of our motivation.
2) Discouragement. We can be discouraged by the drop in attendance. We can be discouraged by the reasons why people have dropped out. We understand why the most vulnerable would be asked to take more protective measures. However, we are discouraged when families send their children back to school, but not to Sunday school. When our members have no problem going to Wal-Mart or Home Depot, but have yet to come back to church. I sense a lot of discouragement among pastors during this pandemic.
3) An angry disposition. When we have a sense of losing control, we can easily become angry. This pandemic along with the recent election can give us a feeling of losing control in this world. One thing I do not miss about living in Southern Arkansas is driving on a crowded freeway. When you are in the middle of traffic jam, there is not much you can do, but wait because you have few options. You are not in control. You have to wait until you get through the heavy traffic. It’s not uncommon to feel angry in those circumstances. Anger can be a warning sign for burnout when you feel you have no control.
4) A loss of joy. The feeling of burnout is an indicator of being drained of joy. Nehemiah 8:10 says, the joy of the Lord is your strength. When we are lacking joy, we lack His strength. When our joy tank is empty, we are vulnerable to burnout. Jesus said in John 15:11, I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. A loss of joy is an indicator of burnout.
5) Self-indulgence. We can seek to escape the pressures and frustrations of our life through self-indulgence in food, pleasure, porn, hobbies, and sports. A person in ministry can easily isolate themselves and turn to self-indulgence. This leads to issues of sin and struggle with the sinful nature.
6) Fatigue. This could involve areas of physical, emotional and spiritual. Bottom line we are tired and want to a break. We are ready for a change.
7) Less hope for the future. When a person has lost their hope for the future, it is very difficult to get it back. This is one of many signs of burnout.
Still Waters Renewal is a ministry for all of us in ministry. We all need a getaway and a break from it all. We provide just that for anyone and everyone who will accept our offer. We want you to have six days and five nights on us. We provide an opportunity for you to come and enjoy a beautiful cabin overlooking a beautiful river.
In our two morning sessions we talk about some of these issues we are facing each day in ministry. We spend some time each day getting to know each other. We provide a professional counselor in the afternoon. We give a lot of free time to get away and rest. Check out our retreat schedule for 2021. Sign up while you can.
Dr. Jim Daniel