HOW TO AVOID MINISTRY BURNOUT

For many of you, summer is winding down and you’re gearing up for back to school time.

Ministry is non-stop, and It’s easy to get caught up in the all craziness allowing burnout and overwhelm to hit you hard.

Here’s how you can avoid getting overwhelmed in the chaos of a busy ministry schedule.

The key is two-fold. Let me explain.

As I type these words, I’m in San Diego with my family (although this blog post is published over a month afterwards).

We lived here from 2009-2012 and had the time of our lives. Because we love the culture, people, and atmosphere so much, we come back and visit each year.

Instead of all the tourist stuff, we find joy in the simple things.

The typical family on a trip seeks out the big over-the-top experiences. Instead, we find joy in the simple things.

For example…

This morning, I woke up before everyone else and took a walk along the Marina by our hotel, and read a book on a comfy couch in the courtyard.

Next, I drove to OB (Ocean Beach) and grabbed some breakfast at People’s, my favorite organic co-op grocery store.

I didn’t do anything particularly exciting, but enjoyed every moment of it. I love being by the water, reading a good book in the shade, and being in OB.

The highlight of the day yesterday was walking on the OB pier with my daughter, Emma (see pic below).

All the fond memories of living here came flooding back for her on the walk. We soaked up the sun, enjoyed the cool breeze, and chatted about life. Moments like that are priceless.

I think one of the keys to happiness in life is to find joy in the simple things, and that’s certainly true in ministry.

That brings up to the first step to avoid ministry burnout and overwhelm.

#1 – ENJOY THE SIMPLE THINGS RATHER THAN SEEKING THE MOUNTAIN TOP EXPERIENCES.

We often seek out the mountain top experiences –  like God showing up in a big way or students lives being transformed at a back to school event or program. 

We elevate those experiences over everything else.

Instead, learn to enjoy the everyday things.

Have lunch with a parent or volunteer. Be present. Enjoy the conversation.

Regardless of how many students surrender their lives to Jesus at an event, just enjoy being a part of what God is doing in the lives of young people. Enjoy the process.

Now, I’m not saying to give up the hope or even expectation of God doing awesome stuff in the lives of students.

What I am saying is that all the other everyday simple things are equally as important. Those moments can bring us great amounts of joy and purpose.

#2 – SURRENDER THE OUTCOME TO GOD. JUST GET OUT OF THE WAY.

I know this sounds like a no brainer, but it’s real easy to take on the weight of making something happen in your own power.

There’s always a lot of pressure for big things to happen in our ministry.

In fact, that pressure can eat you alive. Like my daughter got eaten alive here (ha..ha…ha):

The truth is that all you can do is create an environment for God to show up. Then, get out of the way and let God be God. It’s not up to you. It never was. Get out of the way and let him do his thing.

At your next big event, let go of the need to pressure students to make a decision to follow Jesus. Simply create the opportunity, and let God do the rest.

I find that when you enjoy the simple things and surrender the outcome to God, then you’re less likely to burnout. 

Instead of ministry being a sprint from one event or program to the next, it becomes more like a marathon. You find a sustainable pace for the long haul.

Or put another way…

Your load is light. Not heavy.

So, there you have it.

Hope those two quick thoughts were helpful.

– Nick Diliberto, Preteen Ministry

P.S. If you liked this blog post, then you’ll enjoy this one I wrote on our sister website, Ministry to Youth:

Why and How to Get Out of “Go” Mode

I wrote it when we were visiting Yosemite on the way to San Diego. I was greatly inspired by the beauty that surrounded me.

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