You took a weekend off but came back feeling just as restless, tired and spiritually out of focus as you did when you left. You’ve been serving non-stop for months, even years and simply feel like you don’t have anything left to give. All attempts at “pepping yourself up” or encouraging yourself in the Lord have fallen flat. It’s obvious that you’re in the middle of a major burn out. How do you heal and can you come back?
Reach out to a mentor. Pouring out your heart to another worker or sometimes, even the pastor you serve, may not be enough. Find a mentor who can objectively talk with you about what you are experiencing. Ask for help recognizing the signs of burn out.
Commit to getting spiritual food. It starts innocently enough. We jump up to serve others whenever needed but neglect to get “food” for ourselves. Small habits like forgetting your Bible, skipping personal prayer and participating in worship eventually take a toll. Before long, you’re burned out on working in ministry. You’ve got to make a change! You’ll probably have to lay some things down but it’s one of the steps needed to recover from burn out.
Prepare to take some time off. I’ve never heard of anyone recovering from burn out while continuing to serve, at least in a large capacity. Nobody wants to resign from a ministry that they love, even for a short time but you have to do what’s best for your heart–and soul. Prayerfully scale down your “to do” list; having a counselor or mentor comes in handy here.
Acknowledge how you feel. If every day is a bad day, you’re probably dealing with burn out. It’s a bit of an overused saying but it’s true, “Healing begins with acknowledging you have a problem.” Sometimes the loss of an idealistic dream about ministry leads to burn out; other times it’s missing a series of goals. Human beings have a built-in mechanism that helps the soul cope with loss–it’s called grief. You need time to grieve whatever loss you have experienced.
You can come back from burn out but it does take time and a change in behavior. Don’t short change your healing by coming back too early. Come back on your own terms, not because someone needs you. It’s time for you to put your spiritual, mental and physical health first.
Read more from Mimi by visiting her blog at Tools for Kids Church.