Burn Out Should Never Be An Option
It was one of those situations where what you already know finally hits home. A couple of weeks ago I was given the gift of a Spiritual Retreat. During my 2 days away I watched a number of sessions from the Willow Creek Summit 20th Anniversary DVD. One of the sessions was by Pastor Wayne Cordeiro from Hawaii. His topic was burnout and he told a story about the day he hit the wall. He was out jogging and broke down in tears on the side of the road. The session detailed his road back to balance in ministry and life.
Cordeiro used the example of a tank to bring his point home.
We all understand that life is a balance between intake and outflow. When life is working well our intake and outflow are somewhat even and we can maintain our activity level, quality of life and relationships without much difficultly.
Burnout sneaks up on us when we hit an extended period of little intake and great output. It happens to us all, for students exam time is an example, all new parents face this with the sleepless nights caring for an infant, a family or work crisis can present real challenges. The first warning sign is often anxiety, Pains that start coming out of nowhere and for no reason.
If we ignore the anxiety symptoms we are headed for more trouble. Physical and emotional breakdown come when we turn off the intake valve. With the valve off disaster is guaranteed to be just around the corner. We had a speaker last year whose body and emotions said “no” to his demanding speaking schedule of over 280 times a year. He had to take an extended time off and even now that he is easing himself back into the speaking life again he needs to be seated during his presentation because of anxiety issues.
The simplest solutions are often the most difficult to put into practice, have more intake then outflow. Another way to say this is, “Minister out of your overflow not reservoir.” It’s much easier said than done isn’t it?
As a minister I have a fluid schedule but at the same time there is much I have no control over much of my life, like the fact there is a Sunday in every week that needs a sermon to help make it complete:) Assessment of a problem or challenge should always be the first step. Take a few moments and consider what fills your tank and what drains it.
As I considered what fills my tank the following came to mind.
- Time with my family and friends.
- Nature – walking – hiking, etc.
- Learning whether formal or books, seminars or conferences.
Some of the things that drain my tank?
- Stupid people how should know better.
- Late nights and early mornings.
- Financial worries.
In order to do more than just survive you have to make a concerted effort to regularly fill your tank. To be honest, I feel a bit selfish taking the time to fill my tank when I could be out “ministering” to someone but when you consider this was a practice of Jesus I don’t feel so bad.
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31)
How about you?
How full is your tank?
Is your intake and outflow fairly even or are you headed for anxiety, physical and emotional breakdown?
What fills your tank?
What drains your tank?
What steps can you take this week to increase your intake and decrease your outflow? Rome wasn’t built-in a day and to correct a long existing problem will not happen overnight but what stopping you from taking the first step right now?
“As ministry becomes more complicated the drain will increase and what filled the tank will not keep up with the drain.” Cordeiro