Burnout Series Part 4: Finding Your Way out of Burnout

I preached on rest, rhythm and burnout this past weekend at church and thought I’d share some more thoughts on it this week for my blog readers. You can listen to my sermon here if you missed it.

Over this past week I’ve shared some things I’ve learned about stress, adrenaline, fatigue and burnout. You can read part 1, part 2 and part 3 if you missed them. All of this can be overwhelming and when you are tired, fatigued, burned out, you feel helpless. The things that used to energize you, excite you, bring you passion no longer do. Your family walks on egg shells around you, those who work with you avoid you. You are angry, resentful, depressed, your mood swings move from one extreme to the next in a matter of seconds.

For many leaders and most Americans, this described your mood yesterday.

Today, I want to move out of the darkness many people feel and live with everyday to a place of wholeness and living the way we are designed to live. Here are some of the things I did starting in February of 2012:

  1. Admit your sin. Most people, if not all, burn out because of sin. They may work themselves too hard, not taking a vacation because of fear of man issues, seeking the approval of those around them. They may live in such a way that they don’t ask for help because they want to prove something. That is simply sin. Many pastors lead their churches as if they grow the church, when Jesus told us He is the one who builds it (Matthew 16:18).
  2. Ask for help. Mike was the first one to challenge me on how I was feeling because I kept it hidden. No one knew how I was feeling, I was too afraid to admit I was tired and had nothing left to give. Mike would ask me each week how I was doing and every week I would tell him how tired I was or how unmotivated I was feeling. Finally, he looked me in the eye and asked, “What is going on?” At that moment, I asked for help. My elders told me to take 2 weeks off from preaching and figure out what happened and get myself on track. I talked with my doctor, Katie, read some books and talked to other leaders. This moment I believed saved me.
  3. Realize the work it will take. You didn’t get to this place of fatigue or burnout over night. You won’t get out of it over night. Pastors know this but don’t believe it. When I counsel a couple and they tell me about 10 years of an unhealthy relationship and I let them know it will take years to change their marriage, they look at me in disbelief. You have been running at this pace, not trusting in the sovereignty of God for possibly years. You will have to unlearn some things.
  4. Repent to those around you. If you are a leader of a church or a business, your burnout will affect your church or business. The problem is that you won’t notice it for months. While I began a journey to health in March of 2012, we felt the affects of my pace well into the summer of 2012. This was seen in a lack of clarity among our church and a lack of excitement. As the leader, you set the tone for your team and your church.
  5. Make a plan. Too many people seek to change their lives without a plan. My coach asked me, “What is your plan for this to not become a lifestyle and to keep it from happening again?”
Here’s my plan that I’ve stuck to:
  1. Do what energizes me and avoid what robs me of energy. Certain people, jobs and places rob you of energy and certain people, jobs and places give you energy. Know what they are and do whatever you can to do the things and be around the people that energize you.
  2. Exercise and retreat days. Exercise at least 3-4 days a week, sleep at least 8 hours a night and take a monthly retreat day are crucial to my health and pace.
  3. You can’t save your life or your church.  Jesus does this and you didn’t die on the cross for anyone so stop trying to be Jesus.
  4. See food as fuel. In the last year, I’ve done more and more research into seeing food as fuel instead of just eating what I like to eat. Certain foods energize you and rebuild your adrenal glands, eat those, eat at the right times of the day, drink lots of water.
  5. Live in rhythm and forget balance. As I said the other day, balance is impossible and not really biblical. We are to live a life of rhythm. Depending on your life stage, your job, you have a certain rhythm. For me, August to October are busy, Christmas is busy, January to May are busy. My down times are November until Christmas and May through July. This means I plan my calendar accordingly. Katie and I talk about the busy seasons, we make changes in our life because of those busy seasons and then we enjoy the slower seasons. This changes as your kids get older and you need to understand this.
If you’ve burned out, what are some things you’ve done to find health?

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