Monday, August 4, 2014

All Burned Out

“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 CEB.

Burnout: Long-term exhaustion and diminished interest in work or a particular activity. Thought to be caused by stress.

I've had a few times in my life I've suffered from burnout. Here's a recent example from our church's Family Promise ministry. If you aren't familiar with this program, various churches host homeless families overnight in their buildings for a week at a time. We do this four times a year, providing dinner, social time, beds and bedding, and transportation to and from their Day Center.

I used to always help by sleeping overnight at the church with our Family Promise guests. I didn't sleep very well, and was always tired the next day, but hey, it was just one night.

One Family Promise week there weren't enough women overnighters, so I took a second night... in a row. I was so exhausted by the end of that week that I felt down, depressed, withdrawn. I didn't think I wanted to do that anymore. Ever. A classic case of burnout.

A couple months later the next Family Promise week came, and I didn't sign up at all. To do anything. Not provide food, drive the van, spend a fellowship evening, and especially not sleep over. I felt a little guilty, but I just couldn't do it. So I skipped that entire week.

I prayed for God to help me overcome my burnout, and God came through. I was burdened, and as Jesus promised, he gave me rest. After that one skipped session, I went back to helping out with Family Promise, sometimes sleeping over, sometimes helping in another way. All it took was a short break and, of course, plenty of prayer.

This is a very simple example, but I think many of us have occasional episodes of burnout, especially with church activities where we throw our all into it for the Lord. But if we do suffer from burnout, we don't need to quit our activities altogether. Just a break can be enough to get us back on track. At least it was for me. Or maybe switching our efforts from one activity to a different one. Sometimes a change is all it takes.

Have you ever suffered from burnout? How did you handle it? What scripture helped?


  1. I don't think I've experienced long term full-blown burn out, but part of that is because I recognize the symptoms when they come on--and that happens far too often. Like you I need to make space from activities that are the core source of the burnout. I also need to remember why I do the things I do; and assess whether or not these activities are part of my calling--if so, recharging and remembering purpose is most of what is necessary. If not--I have to find a way out of that activity so that it does not harm my ability to do that to which I am called. I am also learning to look ahead and forecast potential burnout, so I can be prepared to prevent or respond. This is a very good posting and an important thing to be aware of. Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Eric. My thoughts tend to be random, and your more organized approach is always helpful. :)