Avoiding Ministry Burnout
Ministry Is A Marathon Not A Sprint!
Running a marathon is a fitting picture of Church ministry and life. It’s not an easy task, and it requires training, focus, and time for rest. Many within the body of Christ have stepped into a role in one way or another in full-time ministry, but before too long find themselves unsatisfied, experiencing a loss of joy, and burned out. Longevity in church ministry is rare. This is unfortunate for us as individuals and also the church body.
The longer you work in ministry the easier it generally becomes. This is because you develop a rhythm and a pace. Quick departures have a lot to do with inadequate preparation and unrealistic expectations. (trying to do too much too fast and you lose your breath and get discouraged) But, just like running, setting the proper pace ensures long-term results.
Hebrews 12:1 – “Let us run with endurance the race that God has before us.“
Success in church ministry has a lot to do with developing a big-picture perspective.
Exodus 23:29-30 “But I will not do this all in one year because the land would become a wilderness, and the wild animals would become too many to control. I will drive them out a little at a time until your population has increased enough to fill the land. “
- The passage above describes God’s plan for gradual conquest. God put together a journey to help Israel grow in their faith.
- The Biblical principle is: God won’t give you everything all at once. So, don’t try and take it all at once.
- The foundation of your ministry is developed as you grow and develop in your faith, skills, leadership, experience, character, and discipline.
I want the team to take the time to read and reflect on these top 10 ministry commitments that can become foundational practices for longevity.
TOP 10 MINISTRY COMMITMENTS:
1: I will choose to move more slowly.
Speed leads to pain. There may be changes you want to make in your first two years. Great! But these changes don’t need to be made right away. Below are five notes about change:
- Changes that appear to be no-brainers may cause pain to someone.
- Fast changes can be perceived as arrogant, unorganized, or a maverick personality.
- The ministry of the church is like The Titanic; therefore, if you move it to quickly your may hit an iceberg.
- Slow and steady wins the race and gets there in a healthy way.
- God didn’t move Israel into the promised land overnight. He’s not expecting you to transform your area of ministry in two years.
2: I will regularly check my motives and evaluate my heart.
- God honors pure motives. So the more you check yourself, the stronger your leadership and decision-making will be. Remember it’s all about Jesus.
- Most conflict arises from motives that are unclear, mixed, or impure.
- If you don’t check yourself – others will.
- Motives checklist:
A: Why do I want to lead this ministry?
B: Why do I want to teach this material?
C: What’s my motive for saying yes to this request?
D: Why do I really want to make this change?
E: When do I let people know I don’t have a clue about what I’m talking about?
- Motives checklist:
- To keep your motives right, commit yourself to being honest and regular evaluate of your heart.
3: Stay Clear Of The Numbers Game.
- You may feel the pressure that bigger is better. Remember that weeds grow larger and faster than desired grass.
- Attendance is a form of evaluation of ministry effectiveness, but not the only form.
- Learn to communicate in terms of health rather than numbers.
- Tell life-changing stories that encourage health.
- Use words like health instead of growth.
- Train your team to be more concerned about health than numbers.
A healthy ministry is 10% of the total adult congregation.
4: I Will Not Criticize The Past.
- Don’t give into the temptation to make your predecessor look bad by highlighting problems that are exist as a result of prior ministry’s mistake.
- Stay silent in regard to a person, focus on a solution.
- Take notes of what was of value from the past.
- Learn from those who have more wisdom and experience in your area of ministry than you do; be teachable.
- Be a model integrity to other is your ministry department by choosing these actions.“So much of our success in ministry comes from preparation, focus, perseverance, and commitment to the common sense basics of ministry.” Jim Burns
Leaders crash and burn when they build their ministry on hype, events, and personal influence, and failed to build it on the solid foundation Jesus Christ alone and His biblical example of ministry.
God will often use you in the most impactful way, if you will stay faithful to your calling and run it like a marathon, not a sprint.
5: I Will Avoid The Comparison Trap.
- You will always be tempted to compare yourself, your ministry, and your social media platform to others. Don’t!
- Remember, it is God Who has called you, and He has equipped you to be you.
Your gifting and talents are different than others. God loves you for who you are not how you perform.
6: I Will Focus On My Priorities.
- There are many demands to ministry, but your actual job comes first and foremost.
- Jesus had a lot of opportunities, but He knew what He was called to do.
- Stay focused on what’s important to your role. It’s ok to say no. Healthy boundaries keep us focused on our specific marathon run.
The most effective ministry team knows how to focus in on what is expected of them and let go of things that are not.
7: I Will Pace Myself.
- We are all in ministry full time – make sure you create breathing room to do what you enjoy. This will guard against burnout.
- For myself, making breathing room may look like some of the following:
- Lifting weights
- Playing games
- Working on projects
- Reading a book
- Going for a run with someone
- Spending time with my wife
- Doing fun outings with others.
Find what works for you: Adults are often big kids who forgot how to play.
8: I Will Serve.
- This may not make sense to you at first read. But the longer you’re over a ministry department, the more responsibility you will have to lead, which can keep you from serving.
- Jesus gave the unique perfect ministry model of servant leadership.
- Find another department that you can come under someone else’s leadership and serve in that department.
Serving is what strengthens your character. It’s acts of service that are done, often unseen, for the kingdom.
9: I Will Be A Life Long Learner.
- All leaders are learners.
- When a leader stops learning they stop leading.
- Ways to keep learning: Read books, attend conferences, and learn from others around you.
- Learning from others requires humility and a teachable spirit. These are marks of a healthy effective servant leader.
10: I Will Pursue Contentment.
- Today’s culture is all about instant gratification. “I want what I want and I want it now.”
- Ministry isn’t easy. Your first two years are the most difficult, and the enemy would love nothing more than to see you burn out in ineffective living in the land of discouragement.
- One affect of discouragement is leaving or walking away from your ministry.
- When you leave your ministry too soon after arriving you hurt the church body.
- If you want to survive in ministry, pursue being content with where God has placed you and the gifts He has given you.
- Have a heart of gratitude. Thank God for how He is using you.
- The truth is the grass is greener where it is watered.
- Which commitments are going to be the toughest for you?
- Which commitment truly offers you the most encouragement?
- Do I have a sprint mentality or a marathon mindset?
- How often am I changing the model of ministry and my schedule?
- What is my personal plan to evaluate my motives?
- What can I do to improve the commitment that I struggle with the most?