Published: November 20, 2023
Are you on the brink of burnout? Here are four warning signs you can’t afford to ignore.
It can happen to the best of us. Pressure and stress can consume the lives of ministry leaders. The heat builds and builds until exhaustion and burnout set in. How is it that people give their all to serve God just to end up having their lives destroyed by the good things they’re trying to accomplish? They had good motives and great intentions. Where did it get them? Wasn’t their call to ministry legitimate? Is this what God called them to do — burn out and suffer?
Often times Christ-followers have a romantic idea of what life in ministry is like. We see ministry leaders and believe they have it all together based only on seeing them once a week for maybe an hour or two. Let’s be honest…any of us can put up a front for that amount of time.
It can be easy to miss the smoke signals that appear before an emotional inferno. Spot these four warning signs that burnout is near — to save yourself a lot of pain.
Warning Sign 1: You Can’t Say No
Many people feel guilty for saying no to church responsibilities. Are you a “serve-aholic” who can’t say no to any request no matter how full your plate is? We ministry folk tend to let our serving be the thermostat to measure our commitment to Christ. We can struggle with wanting to prove our value to those in leadership. However, saying yes too often can quickly lead to burnout.
Warning Sign 2: You’re Malnourished Spiritually
As a children’s minister or volunteer, when was the last time you participated in communion? Attended a church service with no other responsibility? Didn’t have to “sneak out” during closing prayer to go to your next ministry assignment? Shared with your pastor your personal needs? Ministry leaders need love and care just as much as those we serve.
Warning Sign 3: You’re Afraid to Take a Break
If someone offered you a free vacation, what would you say? “My ministry needs me!” “How can I go away with so much going on?” “What if I miss something?” All these excuses are rooted in pride. If you always worry about what’ll happen when you’re gone, you need a self-evaluation. People who are immature in a position can worry if their subordinates are a potential risk for them to lose their job. They fear that if they leave, someone will outshine them.
Another reason for not taking a break is that you actually believe that everything would fall apart without you. Remember that if you put people in positions who are qualified enough to do the job, you don’t need to come to their rescue. Your absence could actually help your team grow. If you’re feeling stressed, taking a well-earned break is a win-win for everyone. You get to recharge your batteries and your team has the opportunity to serve in a new and exciting way.
Warning Sign 4: You’re Alone
Even though children’s ministry can be very rewarding, it can also be a lonely place to serve. Sometimes children’s ministry leaders struggle with making connections outside of their ministry, and when they have struggles it can feel as if they have nowhere to turn. If something were to happen and you needed a helping hand or someone to talk to, do you have anyone outside of your church you could go to for help?
Without others to talk with, stress and pressure can build up inside us until we can no longer bear the burden. Too many overworked children’s ministers walk away, fail morally, or suffer health problems because of bearing burdens all by themselves. Find help through a counselor, mentor, or trusted friend.
Want more articles for children’s ministry leaders? Check these out.
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