I’ve been doing this ministry thing for over 30 years now. Wow, that means I’m getting old. It also means I started really young. And further it means that I’ve avoided the inevitable burnout that plagues so many in the ministry. (Or that I lived through a few seasons of burnout and lived to tell about it.)
Reflecting back, I want to offer these five thoughts on avoiding burnout and finishing strong.
- Start with the end goal in mind – We always do this when we plan big events. We start with what we want the event to be and then work backwards applying numerous drop dead dates for assignments to be accomplished. It’s a great way to plan for events but it’s also a great way to plan your ministry. How do you want to finish? When do you want to finish? What do you want to be remembered for? Most important what disciplines will you need to apply along the way in order to realize your desired end?
- Enjoy the journey – We have often said that the next stage of church life won’t be better it will just be different. Develop the mindset that each phase of ministry is the best phase. Remind yourself often of what the Bible says about the value of contentment.
- Invest in relationships – In the end you won’t remember nor will you be remembered for the sermons you preached. However, your entire ministry will be shaped by the people you helped, the staff members you mentored, and the relationship you developed.
- Have a hobby – There has to be more to life than your work. In ministry it’s hard to divide our professional and personal lives. Many times people will make us feel guilty when we do. However, don’t let people rob you of your humanity. Have a hobby – it’s better than a heart attack!
- Most of all stay close to God – This is most important. In ministry we can easily confuse work and worship. You must stay fresh. You must meet with your God. Remember that “In His presence is fullness of joy and at His right hand are pleasures forever more.” Psalms 16:11 – That sounds like a great defense against burnout!