“Cabin crew, take your seats for landing.”
I watched the lights of the city as the plane descended. Soon we would be on the ground and taxiing towards the airport building.
At that moment, I felt physically sick. Not because of the turbulence we had encountered, nor because of the unappetizing meal served on the flight. I felt sick because, once we landed, I would turn on my phone, check my messages, and who knows what I might find?
The last few months of ministry had been challenging. I was exhausted, exasperated, fearful. I couldn’t face another problem needing urgent action.
I realized I was burning out.
Burnout is not an uncommon problem in our churches and nonprofits today. You may have had a similar experience. Here are five things that I have learned as I have wrestled with burnout and found a far healthier alternative:
- Our ministry is not our identity. What is far more important is our personal relationship with Jesus. He must be our focus. If we fail to lead out of a healthy soul, then ministry soon becomes idolatry, dreary and stressful.
- Ministry needs will always be greater than our capacity to deliver. There is always more that we could do. Yet obsessive busyness will injure our souls. Psalm 46:10 issues a clear command: “Be still and know that I am God.”
- We must find times when we cancel the noise around us. Finding time away from the crowd, as Jesus did, is crucial. Too much noise and activity can be poisonous to our souls. We must find time to be in His presence, to reflect, pray, listen, and simply “be.” This involves building healthy rhythms in our lives that include times of solitude.
- We must constantly grow in humility. Humility marks the life and teachings of Jesus. We must follow His example, stay focused on Him, and remember that it is His ministry, not ours.
- God may call us to anonymity. We may face the temptation to chase the spotlight or people’s praise. But God’s plans for us may lead us to anonymity. That doesn’t matter. We might be unseen by the world, but we are always seen by Him.
Leadership can be a lonely trek at times. We must all take the time to recharge, seek the Lord and His wisdom, and take the time needed to nurture a healthy soul.