The 5 Scariest Things About Burnout

June 7, 2018 • By

I vividly remember sitting in the psychologist’s office as he told me I was experiencing burnout in a bad way. I had been suffering for a while but I didn’t know that there was a clinical term for what I was going through. I just thought I was broken somehow and hoped he could help me.

“You’ve got to take your foot off the gas,” he told me. “If you don’t, your family and church are going to suffer.” I wrote about the experience here.

Burnout is a strange phenomenon. It’s tricky. It’s not like an illness that you can see coming and try to take extra vitamin C to get ahead of it. It’s a lot more devious than that. To this day, I still feel the effects of that chapter in my life. Hopefully, the following five things will help you put practices into your life that will protect you from burning out.

1. The warning signs are incredibly difficult to see. Like I said, it’s not like the flu. You don’t get a scratchy throat indicating that you’re coming down with something. In my case, my wife noticed before I did. It’s like you’re charging ahead and then one day, you realize you’re not yourself. Don’t think you’re immune, don’t believe that you’re better than, and don’t ignore the subtle absence of grace and patience.

2. Burnout numbs you to the things you love. This one is nasty. I remember feeling like the things I loved were just more work. Instead of enjoying the holidays, I endured them. Activities that I typically enjoyed, like writing and music, had no appeal. Even sex was a chore. I lost my passion for the ministry that God called me to and pastoring felt laborious.

3. Life becomes flavorless. This point is really just an extension of the previous one. Instead of life having ups and downs, it just had downs. Vitality was rare, fatigue was constant, and I couldn’t recall the last time I had a good laugh.

4. Burnout is extremely difficult to recover from. You can’t just go up north fishing for the weekend and bounce back from burnout. In my case, I had to take a month off work, and that was just the beginning. In the film, The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo is stabbed by a Ring Wraith. When Gandalf discusses the matter with Elrond, he explains, “I’m afraid that wound will never fully heal.” It’s a bit like that. Your passion will return, life will regain its color, and your energy will return. However, burnout seems to be lurking in the shadows, and passion has to be intentionally protected or it disappears when you’re not looking.

5. It’s all about taking preventative measures. I have gotten in the habit of scheduling times of restorative activities all throughout the year now. I take two personal retreats, a three-week vacation, and guard my day off. It may sound like overkill but it’s necessary if I want to love and serve others in a way that’s genuine and meaningful. The best way to beat burnout is by guarding yourself against it in the first place. If you’re taking work calls, texts, and emails on your day off, you’re not only putting yourself at risk for burnout but you’re eroding the grace that allows you to serve others best in the first place.

I hope this helps. If you’ve suffered burnout, how did you recover? Also, what sort of preventative measures do you take? Feel free to share in the comments section below.



For a Better Life, Stop Doing This with Your Mouth Now

May 25, 2018 • By

“I hate my job.” Do you know who says that? People who hate their jobs.

“I’ll never succeed.” You know who says that? People who never succeed.

“My best years are behind me.” You know who says that? People who have only memories of the good ol’ days and nothing to look forward to.

Are these people speaking the truth or are they creating truth with their words?

“Life is a gift!” You know who says that? People who appreciate and find joy in all that God has provided for them.

“This is going to make a difference.” Do you know who says that? People who don’t give up but keep on trying until the vision is fulfilled.

“The best is yet to come!” You know who says that? People who live life with an abundance mindset, filled with hope, experiencing amazing things.

Are these people speaking the truth or are they creating truth with their words?

In the Bible, James 3:3-5a says, “We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong.”

In this passage, the author is making a comparison between a rudder (and a bit) and our tongues. It’s all about the power of the words we speak. The words we speak move our lives in either a positive, prosperous direction or a declining, joyless direction.

That’s why, if you want a better life, you need to stop letting your feelings determine your vocabulary.

Neuroscientists have just started studying the power of words and have discovered that they can affect our health, our mood, and our relationships. Of course, God knew this all along. And they can affect a whole lot more than that!

The problem is that we tend to let our current negative emotional state dictate what we say about our future circumstances. This is deadly! When we start doing that, we need to stop talking, take a deep breath, and start speaking life into our lives.

I’m not talking about pie in the sky fantasy talk either. If you didn’t work hard enough, admit it. If you experienced a setback, it’s okay to say it. But a missed expectation today does not have to equal a miserable tomorrow.

It’s a healthy response to say that you’re going to achieve your health goals (even if you’ve missed the mark). It’s a good thing to say that your ideas are going to succeed (even when they’ve fallen flat in the past). Go ahead and confess that some amazing days are ahead of you (even if you can’t remember the last time you had one).

Our words are powerful and can steer the course of our lives so let’s start speaking our lives into a successful, happy direction.

When God created the world, He spoke it into existence. Maybe it’s time we take a cue from Him and start creating the world we desire with our words.