While I’ve had depression, cancer and serious betrayal in my 30 plus years of ministry I’ve never actually suffered burnout.
I’ve seen my lovely wife Dianne journey through burnout to a better place of health so I’ve seen first hand the terrible consequences of this very real condition.
So what’s kept me from burnout?
Well to be honest I’m not totally sure! But here’s a few of my life practices that I think have helped:
I’ve religiously practiced a weekly switched off day off during which I refused to work & gladly wasted time doing nothing! I still get shocked by pastors working 7 days a week & thinking they can get away with it. It’s not a sustainable practice.
Annual holidays have been a constant with a longer break of 10-12 weeks every dozen years. Pastoring today is complex. It places significant demands on our energy, time & health so I think a regular, lengthy break is mandatory. I’m convinced one or two week holidays are a complete waste of time for pastors unless you use it as a mid year break to complement your annual 4 week break.
I haven’t stopped praying. I think the habit of regular prayer has enabled me to offload worries & anxiety. Prayer certainly changes my perspective on problems & life.
Laughter. I am by nature generally quite jovial. I’m not a mournful, troubled soul. I can normally find a laugh … somewhere … eventually! The Bible is completely right: joy does bring strength! Not that I have anything against deep & meaningful but shallow & meaningless are often underrated!
Close friends. I’ve laboured long & hard to cultivate & maintain close friendships. I think friendships do wax & wane so you have to keep investing in them with time & energy. The pay off is enormous.
Purpose filled living. Living a life with distinct & eternal purpose keeps my motivation high.
Have you experienced burnout? What healed you?
If you’ve never experienced burnout what do you think has kept you from it?